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Thread: No Need To GTC: It's Toledo

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    No Need To GTC: It's Toledo

    This old Bear is not an official planner, but I can tell you things about Ohio's 4th largest city (6th largest metro).....

    In the early part of the 20th Century Toledo was in the Top 20 in population. It was growing fast. Automobile manufacturing and automobile parts manufacturing were natural follow-ups to Toledo's 19th Century position of "Wagon Capitol Of The World".

    But, something happened. A lot of the jobs.....and the people.....flocked to Detroit or Chicago. Toledo stopped growing.

    In the 1960's T-Town took on an aggressive annexation policy. Township after township was grabbed and Toledo's population started to shoot toward the 400,000 mark. The 1970's started a long demise in manufacturing jobs, which continues today.

    Toledo was the smallest city with the most Fortune 500 Headquarters. It had about seven (7).....but most of those are gone. Champion Spark Plug, gobbled by Cooper Industries. Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company grabbed by England's Pilkington. Owens-Illinois grabbed by KKR, then sold back. Questor Corp. bought by who-the-heck remembers.

    Owens-Corning is still here, bankrupt filings and all. Toledo Scale is now in Columbus. Toledo still makes Jeeps.....for the Germans.

    Many Toledo residents moved on, mostly to those places that a lot of "rust belt America" moved to.....south and southwest.

    Those that stayed enjoyed the best and put-up-with the worst that a small metro can provide:

    Toledo residents have very little sprawl to deal with. Central Avenue in west Toledo (and Sylvania Township), the south suburb of Perrysburg, Monroe Street at the area's only super regional mall. Thus, getting around is pretty quick and easy.
    (Toledo has it's share of expressways that allow the residents relatively easy movement. Of course, they were designed with 1960's traffic projections and even a non-growing town has increasing vehicle traffic.)

    There actually are some interesting things to do in T-Town, including one (1) of the Top 10 at museums in the U.S., the most-complete zoo in America, visiting Tony Packo's restaurant (you had to watch multiple episodes of Mash to understand).

    Crime is consistent with a city of this size. A high percentage of folks own their own homes. Many areas of the actual city are very nice residential areas.

    Probably the toughest issue that Toledo folks deal with is the image of the city: Nowhere-Ville. And people like me perpetuate that line with long, rambling internet posts.

    More later about the (heh heh) "Glass Capitol Of The World".

    Bear

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Let me add a few things.....

    Walleye Capitol Of The World, in Lake Erie, just east of town.
    First-ever "Labor-Industry-Citizens" Committee, formed in late 1940's.
    One (1) of the best metro park systems in the states.
    Extensive rails-to-trails in town, suburbs, and throughout NW Ohio.
    (If this counts.....) Ohio's 2nd or 3rd richest suburb....Ottawa Hills.
    Danny Thomas (if you remember him)
    Theresa Brewer (ditto)
    Klinger
    Leader in solar-glass technology.....even still.....
    Tom Sholz (architect of great rock group Boston) (from Ottawa Hills)
    Huge coal-shipping facility
    Large port (for general cargo)
    Katie Holmes (suburb of Sylvania, drinks still at bar I go to, Frogtown's)

    Bear

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    More later about the (heh heh) "Glass Capitol Of The World".
    Bear
    Toledo may be the "Glass Capitol of the World", but there is a rusted sign at the city limits of my hometown that claims the same.

    Owens-Illinois largest plant (based on what I know) was located in my hometown.. at it's peak employing over 3,500 workers. Presently, 350 workers. My Dad still working there 36 years later.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4

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    Don't worry, Toledoans can all work as software engineers. No wait, THOSE jobs are being off-shored, too. Maybe you can all be "artists." No, wait, art is controversial and "shouldn't" be supported by government grants, so...

    My hometown is Fort Wayne, Indiana. In some ways, it has fared a little better than Toledo, but it shares many of the same problems. For example, Lincoln Life Insurance Company was for years a major corporate citizen: prominent office campus downtown, civic charities, involved local executives, hundreds (over a thousand, actually) good, varied jobs. It was bought by a Philadelphia company and consolidated operations-and those consolidated operations are not in Fort Wayne. Similarly, Dana Spicer Axle (1500 employees at one point-most gone to Mexico).

    Back on topic: I still remember my childhood trips to the Toledo Zoo. Fantastic. And, since I like art glass a lot, the Art Museum's collection is pretty neat! And, Toledo has some beautiful suburbs (I really like Perrysburgh and the estates along the Maumee River).

    Still, overall, I'm glad I live in evil California now.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    What, then, is the solution?

    The plight of small and mid-sized midwestern cities like Toledo, Fort Wayne, Flint, Erie, etc., is much lamented. These places seem to be at a natural disadvantage economically.

    What solutions might work to stem population loss, decrepit building stock, dead dowtowns and dying neighborhoods? Any thoughts?

    Personally I think exploiting the resources of colleges and universities would help. In Kalamazoo, MI (where I grew up), they've only recently begun to view Western Michigan University as an economic engine for the area, rather than just a bastion of rowdy students. However, this was done out of necessity - The Upjohn Company (Rogaine!) was a great company to have in a company town. They're gone, and what is left is a fragment in the huge Pfizer drug empire.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ChevyChaseDC
    The plight of small and mid-sized midwestern cities like Toledo, Fort Wayne, Flint, Erie, etc., is much lamented. These places seem to be at a natural disadvantage economically.

    What solutions might work to stem population loss, decrepit building stock, dead dowtowns and dying neighborhoods? Any thoughts?
    The solution may be, as inspired by my chats with Mendelman, to build from within. Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit from within the community. Make the citizens of the communities the catalyst for development and job growth rather than waiting for the relocating corporate headquarters or factory.

    What made the cities grand in the past was the innovation and drive the ancestral citizens had. What helps keep them in their rapid or gradual decline is waiting and depending on outside businesses to come to aid.

    Only recently are these industrial cities realizing what they do have. Just like Kalamazoo, Peoria has finally realized the benefits of a respected private university, and three large hospitals, a federal research lab, and an innovative medical college. Plans are implemented and progress is being made to encourage growth from within.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  7. #7

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    midwestern doom and gloom?

    I didn't mean to sound too gloomy about Fort Wayne. It has many advantages. It's a little farther (than Toledo) from a "big city," so it really is a regional center for retail, professional services, and the like. It still has a strong manufacturing base of smaller companies-how long they'll last in today's world of 1.50/day industrial labor, I don't know. It has a strong arts community, some neat neighborhoods with extremely cheap prices, far better public schools than California (the forty languages in one grade issue is not QUITE as bad in the midwest).

    My concern remains that the opportunities for entrepenurship are being steadily reduced. Sure, there are always niches for people more clever, visionary, and hard working than I. But, it seems that almost every segment of the economy is being consolidated, franchised, "rationalized." And, the entry capital seems to get higher and higher. I have no answers-and it isn't just the midwest and the United States. I read yesterday in the New York Times about how Japanese companies are rapidly outsourcing almost of their electronics manufacturing-and now the engineering and marketing-to China. Just like the rest of the world.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    I like Toledo, in spite of the fact that it's the only city where I have been victim of a crime. I was there for a music festival in 1994 and was parked downtown, in a fairly well travelled area under a street lamp. In spite of this, my car was broken into (they smashed the driver's side window) and stole my tapes and few other small items (including a leatherette case that resembled a day planner which I bet they thought would contain cash or credit cards. What a surprise those thieves got when they opened it and found my copy of the Bible! Oh well, they probably needed it more).

    Still, I loved the ethnic feel of the city, some nice architecture downtown, a gorgeous cathedral, etc. They had (as I remember) a Rouse-style "festival marketplace" that I believe never caught on. Was it developed into something else?
    SOME say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Robert Frost (1874–1963) (From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    The Portside Festival Marketplace was a huge flop. After a year or two it closed and was empty for a few years. Finally, a science museum was placed in the building. The museum has been very popular, all year long, especially with busloads of school kids.

    For years the downtown side of the Maumee River was a popular weekend (in the summer) attraction. Beer festivals, art and music festivals, etc., all helped fill the transient boat docks lining the shore.

    However, a few years ago a group of local restaurant folks started building big restaurants and bars on the other side, calling the area "The Docks". It is very popular in the summer and actually stays quite busy during colder times.

    Now, local officials are arguing about whether or not to tear-down the aging Sports Arena (a minor league hockey facility) and build a new arena, new riverfront housing, some retail, etc.

    Toledoans argue a lot.

    Bear

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    In the early part of the 20th Century Toledo was in the Top 20 in population.
    Actually, for a census year, the highest ranking was 26th in 1920. Perhaps it may have acheived 25th during the middle part of a decade, but it was never in the Top 20.

  11. #11
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    What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

    I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

    always,
    mangler

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally posted by mangler
    What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

    I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

    always,
    mangler
    My brother is a Valporaiso University alum.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mangler
    What is the most frustrating thing about the Toledo area?

    I've lived here in the area nearly all of my life, except for the three years I spent in Valporaiso, IN, and I've been both charmed and frustrated by Toledo's lack of real vision about it's own growth, both economically and culturally.

    always,
    mangler
    This Bear has lived in NW Ohio all his life (except for a short stint in downtown Chicago). I can't put my finger on any single "thing" that is frustrating about T-Town.

    Being close to and somewhat dominated by Detroit probably didn't help its' image. People "in the know" from other places are aware of Toledo's highlights, such as one (1) of the most complete zoos in the world or one (1) of the best ten art museums in the country. But after they look at the polar bears or the El Greco they speed back to home base.

    Toledo does not have much night life.....probably a big deterent to younger folks. Toledo doesn't have "pizzaz".....but what midwestern rust belt smaller city does?

    Toledo usually makes the news when something bad happens.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Took a drive through Toledo last weekend and here are some of my thoughts from the drive. I in no way saw all of the City so these should be considered casual observations.

    The area around the Erie Street Farmer's Market and the ball park are really picking up steam with new businesses and housing. Many of the older warehouse buildings in the area are perfect for adaptation as lofts and it looks like quite a few conversions are going on. The loft conversions will help stablize downtown's base for retail and may add some variety.

    I echo Toledo having a great museum and zoo. These treasures are things cities three times its size would be proud to have.

    I did notice some construction in the park across Monroe from the Art Muesum, Bear or Cat, can ya fill me in? That looks like a project thats been going on for a while but not getting anywhere.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I did notice some construction in the park across Monroe from the Art Muesum, Bear or Cat, can ya fill me in? That looks like a project thats been going on for a while but not getting anywhere.
    It's supposed to be a big glass museum, but has met much neighborhood opposition from residents of the adjoining the Old West End. I haven't heard anything about the project being delayed but will look into it.

  16. #16
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    Is that Polish neighborhood on Lagrange Avenue still there?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Trinity Moses
    Is that Polish neighborhood on Lagrange Avenue still there?
    Yes, the neighborhood is still there. Still quite a few folks of Polish heritage in the hood.

    The Catholic Diocese of Toledo recently announced the closing of a number of churches and schools. St. Hedwigs, which many people consider the "center" of the neighborhood, will see its' elementary school closed.

    Every summer there is a huge festival held on Lagrange Street. Lots of beer consumed.

    Bearski
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Just Call It O-I

    Today, 4-13-05, one (1) of Toledo's Fortune 500 headquartered companies announced a name change. Owens-Illinois will now be known as O-I.

    Duhhh......we have been calling it that for years.

    O-I is the largest manufacturer of glasss containers in the world. They recently peddled their plastic bottle business. The company that bought the biz actually came in and bought quite a few homes of Toledo area residents who they wanted to stay with the new company. Those folks were transferred to the new company's locale.....somewhere back east, me thinks.

    Owens-Illinois, Owens-Corning-Fiberglass, Libbey-Owens-Ford.....all at one (1) time were Toledo-based Fortune 500 HQ's. The Owens name is from a dude named Michael Owens who, many years ago, developed some sort of glass manufacturing equipment.

    O-I is in Toledo's newest and tallest skyscraper, located on the river, at a nice 30-or-so stories. Owens-Corning is also downtown, in a low-slung building that looks like a strange boat. It is a newer building.....having replaced the Owens-Corning skyscraper that is in the center of downtown.....now mostly empty.

    O-I will be announcing very soon whether or not they will renew their lease on the big downtown building. Most of their area employees work at a tech center in suburban Perrysburg. Toledo and Perrysburg are fighting for these jobs.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    On Tuesday, 4-19-05, Toledo's power brokers approved a plan that will place over one-hundred rental and purchase housing units in downtown Toledo, right on the Maumee River. There is an old electric-generating "steam" plant that has been part of the downtown Toledo skyline forever and a day. The insides of that plant will be converted to rental lofts. An addition on the building will have units that can be purchased.

    There are some other pockets of warehouse loft living that has been popping-up in the downtown area. Kind of impressive for a city of this size.

    The steam plant project has two (2) prime investors. One (1) is NBA basketball player Jim Jackson, a Toledo native. He has been a continual investor in the Toledo area, including investments in the central city. (He went to junior high school with my son.....although they didn't know each other. Hey RJ , I could take him.)

    A son of a friend of our's recently bought a loft in downtown Toledo. He loves the location, the size of his loft, the freight elevator he has to use to get to it.

    Bear Actually Reporting Positive Toledo News
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Today, 4-13-05, one (1) of Toledo's Fortune 500 headquartered companies announced a name change. Owens-Illinois will now be known as O-I.

    O-I will be announcing very soon whether or not they will renew their lease on the big downtown building. Most of their area employees work at a tech center in suburban Perrysburg. Toledo and Perrysburg are fighting for these jobs.

    Bear
    Today, 5-5-05, OI announced that they are leaving their downtown Toledo skyscraper and moving to their Tech Center land, located in suburban Perrysburg, OH.

    The good news for the metropolitan area is that the large corporation stays. The bad news for downtown Toledo is the loss to the suburbs of this world HQ and all of its' jobs.

    Even though there are some positive things happening in downtown Toledo, this will leave Toledo's two (2) tallest buildings virtually empty. A few years ago, Owens-Corning moved its' world HQ to a low-level building near the main core of downtown, on the river.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    An Obvious Example

    The recent news here in Toledo.....OI Corporation leaving their 32-story glass skyscraper for the suburbs.....serves as an obvious example to Cyburbia residents. An obvious example of "what"? Many of the things that are discussed on these pages are part of the OI story.

    Many posters talk about the demise of the central business district, especially in mid-sized metropolitan areas and especially in rust-belt cities. The OI building, known as One Seagate Center, was built in the mid-1980's, with a vision that it would just be the first of a number of new tall buildings that would rejuvinate the downtown Toledo area. Tacked-on next to Seagate was a beautiful Rouse-designed festival marketplace, Portside. A new hotel popped-up in the same block.

    Portside Festival Marketplace, an idiotic excursion with the wrong products at the wrong price in the wrong place, died a few years after opening. (Many Cyburbians won't agree, but, IMHO, pop-in a gambling casino in place of a festival marketplace and you'll have people in the central business district.....seven (7) days a week.)

    The business world changed, too. Owens-Illinois was bought by New York investors and the company went through a number of "re-focuses". Those investors bailed (at least partially bailed) and the company has been shedding some of its' businesses (such as plastic bottles) to focus on the glass that it was famous for.

    Corporate campuses are the new world for many Fortune 500 corporations. In downtown Toledo, Owens-Corning Fiberglass (can you say "Pink Panther"?) moved a few years ago to a campus-style low-level building on the river, in downtown. They left vacant their original home, a 30-story building that was built in the late 1960's and is a really ugly view of the style of skyscraper from that period of time.

    Downtown Toledo will have an empty skyscraper (Owens-Corning) at one (1) end of downtown and an empty skyscraper (Owens-Illinois) at the other end. Both corporations stay in the metro, both go to campus-style headquarters, and one (1) goes to the suburbs.

    Perrysburg, one (1) of the more-upscale Toledo suburbs gets OI. The corporation already has offices and employees in a business park there. Now they will have a world headquarters, a suburban location, free parking, etc. In an ironic twist, the same business park also is home to the area's newest (and only) "lifestyle center". So it will still "feel" like a downtown......at the lifestyle center.

    BTW.....Dana Corporation, the other of Toledo's three (3) remaining Fortune 500 world headquarters, has been in a campus-style environment in west Toledo for about twenty (20) years.

    Note: Other remaining "area" Fortune 500 firms include Cooper Tire & Rubber (Findlay, 35 miles south) and Tecumseh Products (Tecumseh, MI, 30 miles north).

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Auditoriums, Arenas, Etc.

    On Thursday, 6-2-05, consultants hired by the city of Toledo, recommended that if Toledo builds a new arena it should be built in downtown. The two (2) sites competing are in downtown, adjacent to The Convention Center and Fifth Third Field (considered one of the best minor league ball parks) AND in the proposed Marina District development, which is on the east side of the Maumee River.

    Toledo's ancient Sports Arena holds about 7200 people, for minor league hockey, some concerts. Most communities with a metro of Toledo's size have at least one (1) newer arena-type venue of at least 10,000 seats, with the money-making skyboxes.

    Funding, hopefully without public funds, is still a big question mark. The local groups that want the east side location tend to be the hockey crowd. Most Toledo business leaders seem to favor the downtown location.

    The new facility would be a better place for concerts, hockey, some other events that now by-pass Toledo because of the small and old Sports Arena. There are other venues, such as Stranahan Center ( a theater for Broadway shows, etc.), Centennial Hall (a 1976 building on the campus of the University of Toledo, which seats about 8000 and has a poor design and no lucrative skyboxes), and The Convention Centre, which is a smaller building suitable for small trade shows.

    If it was in Bear's hands, I would push for State of Ohio involvement in building a facility, downtown, that would be part of the University of Toledo, serving as a replacement for Centennial Hall. Then, convert Centennial into an indoor practice facility for UT.....bringing that school into the 21st Century.

    Side-note: Toledo built what was called The Civic Auditorium, many years ago. It was located in the near-downtown area and was the original site for conventions, events, etc. Poorly-designed, it never really was a success. Then, the expressways were built close-by, funneling traffic around the area where the Civic Auditorium is.

    The building was re-invented a few years ago as The Erie Street Market, with some nice resturants, shops, etc. But it continues to struggle because of the afore-mentioned traffic routing, horrible "press", and a retail clients in downtown Toledo that just don't exist.

    Finally, most people agree that Toledo will always suffer when it comes to venues for sports and entertainment. Detroit is just an hour north. Chicago is just a few hours west. Cleveland is just an hour and a half east.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Side-note: Toledo built what was called The Civic Auditorium, many years ago. It was located in the near-downtown area and was the original site for conventions, events, etc. Poorly-designed, it never really was a success. Then, the expressways were built close-by, funneling traffic around the area where the Civic Auditorium is.

    The building was re-invented a few years ago as The Erie Street Market, with some nice resturants, shops, etc. But it continues to struggle because of the afore-mentioned traffic routing, horrible "press", and a retail clients in downtown Toledo that just don't exist.

    Finally, most people agree that Toledo will always suffer when it comes to venues for sports and entertainment. Detroit is just an hour north. Chicago is just a few hours west. Cleveland is just an hour and a half east.

    Bear
    You just need to market the glass outlet in your market to us Detroiter's! It would help if you could fill the place with red-wing and big yellow block M outlined in blue beer glasses.

    I never knew that that was the function of that building. I knew it served a function, but thought it was some sort of bus transfer place/garage. You're right that is an odd layout and location for a convention facility. Seagate is much better.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Old West End Festival

    My bad.....I should have mentioned this a few weeks ago, so those interested could have planned for it.....

    Toledo's Annual Old West End Festival kicks off tomorrow morning, 6-4-05, and continues through Sunday. This wonderful event is usually attended by about 50,000 people who love older homes, a unique neighborhood, and arts and crafts.

    Toledo's Old West End is America's largest turn-of-the-century neighborhood. It has the largest collection of Victorian homes east of the Mississippi River. In addition to the Victorian collection, the neighborhood is filled with homes that fit into the description of craftsman style and arts and craft style.

    Many neighborhood residents have been working on their beautiful homes for years. I had some friends who lived in the Old West End. Their homes were incredible, with beautiful woodwork, stained glass, etc. Wow!

    If you are close enough to make the trip, you should check this neighborhhod out.

    Sorry for the short notice.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ICT/316's avatar
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    Bear, A few questions about T-Town. Does the city limits cross the Maumee River to the east? If so, is the CBD on both sides of the river or mainly on the west side? Also, do you have link that shows a map of the city limits (not Mapquest, it does seperate other cities!).

    Bill

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