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On a chilly spring afternoon, workers scrubbed floors, put final touches on murals, and hung historic pictures of Toledo at the Civic Center Promenade in the Erie Street Market.
"A market should be a community space where people can talk and learn about themselves - or their city, in this case," said Pat Nowak, manager of the Erie Street Market.
The promenade, which opened last night, is a 114,000-square-foot bay in the market turned art and recreation center. It features wall-size paintings of Peter Navarre's cabin, the Toledo Museum of Art, the zoo, and many pictures of downtown Toledo as the city evolved through the decades.
"Sometimes we're very critical of what we have and don't have, but we need to publicly celebrate our city to instill more pride in our community," Ms. Nowak said.
She noted that visitors will be able to spend an afternoon at the market and also get a glimpse of the city's past when they take a quick tour of the center, which will be used to host a variety of events.
The promenade, which is available for rent to outside organizations and individuals, is owned by the city. It cost $150,000 to renovate with funds from the city's capital improvement program and private donations.
Ms. Nowak said the promenade will serve the city as the Civic Auditorium once did.
She explained that in the 1920s, city officials turned to the Civic Auditorium when the public demanded a gathering place to hold conventions and attract people to downtown Toledo. But the auditorium eventually closed down because of poor attendance.
In addition to the paintings, the promenade features a semi-circular, wooden stage; a water fountain; and a cobblestone walkway along the mural wall, which will be called Artisans Way.
"Many people will want to bring their children and grandchildren here to show them some of the things they saw when they were growing up," Ms. Nowak said. "We expect this to be a busy and fun-filled summer."