Midwest Diary: The places we ignore.

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Little Caesar’s Pizza 

One morning in late November, I took a drive along Reynolds road. The road runs north-south between the cities of Maumee and Toledo in Ohio and is home to residential communities, local businesses, and organizations from all walks of life, both in profile and interest.

The contrasts hit me hard every time: the strange and varied assortments of buildings in decay, motels charging by the hour, cheap pizza places, check-cashing joints, and strip clubs abutting family-owned restaurants, college-preparatory private schools, and upscale suburbs of white collar professionals.

There are many reasons for the differences, from the closing of a local mall that eliminated hundreds of working class jobs, to nationwide economic downturns hitting small businesses particularly hard in the Toledo area.

This morning I wanted to see what the decay looked like up close. The photographs below capture images of the those places.

The flatness and emptiness of the spaces felt like Ohio, but they gave off an eerie stoicism and loneliness that ran counter to the otherwise friendly and hospitable culture of the midwest.

The images remind that there are places in the United States that need our attention. They are the places we ignore. They are ubiquitous, not just in Ohio but all over the country in areas where need and poverty live alongside prosperity.

(all photographs by author; all rights reserved)

An empty storefront in a strip mall next to Little Caesar’s Pizza and “Cashland,” a place to cash checks.
“I actually grew up in this neighborhood for a while, and it was a great hustle and bustle neighborhood and it has significantly gone downhill, and we need to do something about that and get it back into shape.”
Zia’s Burger Bar
Zia’s “interior is shabby, the table was sticky, the silverware was dirty.”
The former storefront for the Hair Cuttery Salon is for rent.
“When Southwyck Mall was here, it used to be packed with people and the area used to be doing well but now when Southwyck closed its been going downhill, and even if you look around it is kind of rundown now, many businesses are closing.”
U.S. 20 south toward Maumee
Phoenix Relax Massage at Phoenix Dragon Plaza
Hush Showgirls
“Most had really good bodies and Nirvana gives a really good private dances.”
A torn-up billboard for locally-owned music store Allied Record Exchange sits across the street from Maumee Valley Country Day School, a college preparatory private school.
Owned by the city of Toledo, this 60-acre site of the former Southwyck Mall falls short of being “site ready” for new developers “because the foundations of the old shopping center still have to come out.”
An abandoned gas station on Reynolds Road


A second abandoned gas station
“To start pump call cashier on microphone…”
“Self serve. Stop Engine. No Smoking.”
Clearance 13′ – 0″

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