Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Barriers hide glimpses of Toledo's past

Among the many pleasures of living in your childhood hometown is uninterrupted access to what might be called the comparative landscape.

There are still certain intersections in this city where I can remember precisely what it feels like to be a little kid.


Because I so vividly remember being driven through those intersections at a time when I could barely see above the dashboard.

Things change, of course.

And that's only as it should be. A city is organic, after all.

I wouldn't expect - or even want - to look out a car window and see just exactly what I saw decades past.

Well, maybe with the exception of Tiedtke's.

I guess I really would like the chance to just once more enter that legendary Toledo department store - if for no other reason than to see if our collective memory is accurate enough to merit the frenzied nostaglia which mere mention of that store always seems to provoke among longstanding Toledoans.

But aside from that?


Change happens. I accept it. Welcome it.

And yet, the noise barriers they're putting up along Toledo-area expressways are driving me to despair.

Question: Did we protect the sense of hearing with an assault on the sense of sight?

Driving along I-475 every day, as workers have continued to put up panel after panel of these tall, putty-colored barriers, I'm beginning to realize how less and less remains now of the passing cityscape.

And I miss it.

I miss pushing past the sweet neighborhoods of West Toledo, looking over for just a moment at porches and sidewalks and trees and the blooming flowers of spring and a crimson autumn and the rooflines and shrubs where Christmas lights are strung and - life.

I miss this vista of life in city neighborhoods.

No, this is not to say that folks who live alongside the rush of 60-mile-per-hour expressway traffic should have no choice but to listen to the whoosh of an ebb and flow so constant it's more like the tide than traffic.

Nor is this to grouse about the choice of noise-reducing panels, although, yeah, come to think of it, they probably could have selected something a little easier on the eye, but never mind - this isn't highway-department criticism.

It's a small slice of mourning for a view now obliterated.

Gone is the chance to see our own city from a distance, however fleeting the speed limit made our glance.

And I miss it.

It just seems there are fewer opportunities now for serendipity for the eye, fewer places where the eye can choose its place to rest.

Isn't our vision so often directed for us?

Billboards, video games, traffic lights. You can't even wait in a doctor's office any more without a TV flickering in the corner, trying to lure and hold the gaze.

And now, hurtling along the e-way, it's just one multilaned stretch of gray road, blinkered on both sides by the flat dullness of tall panels.

Somewhere behind it all is our city, glimpses of which are increasingly concealed.

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at or call 1-419-724-6086.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…