UpTown Girls And Guys Celebrate (419) Day

Toledo Local Features  |  04/13/2012 8:00 am

What makes Toledo such a great place to live? Find out first hand at the inaugural (419) Day, scheduled for Thursday, April 19th in Toledo's vibrant UpTown District. The event is presented by the Uptown Association, and is a reminder of all the terrific features that make this city worth celebrating.

For some folks, it's the community. The people who choose to live and work in Toledo are a special breed, and some of the most interesting and dedicated individuals you'll ever come across.

"The people of Toledo have resigned to love this city and make it beautiful. Or rather, to accentuate the beauty and uniqueness that exists here," explained Old West End resident and UpTown Association Board Member Ryan A. Bunch. "Anyone you ask has their own reason for being here and doing what they do. And that's what's really great: tough, strong, smart people stay here and realize that in this city, you can do whatever you want."

Others insist that Toledo is a city that provides. I've heard life-long resident and local activist Rachel Richardson say it more than once. "If you love Toledo, it will love you back." Of course, she also speaks of the community members taking action to improve the quality of life for themselves and their neighbors.

"An understanding of the "greater good" sets the scene for huge impact," Richardson said.

Take a closer look at the UpTown District and the progress it's made, just in the past five years or so, largely in part of all the community members, business owners, artists and activists who have invested their time, energy and money into the area. When Bunch first moved to the OWE, he recalls UpTown being a district in name only, and not a real neighborhood. Now, there is affordable housing, a lively bar scene, numerous shopping and dining opportunities, and a push to beautify the area with public art and green spaces.

"I don't think people stop to realize how much has happened in the past five or six years, it's really a lot when you add it up," Bunch said. "Watching the Toledo GROWs gardens come in, watching the public art and murals go up, seeing the plans for the bike racks the Arts Commission will install in May, or the plans for the Signature Park project the UpTown Association is working on, watching the Ottawa Tavern grow out of nothing into a destination, seeing the Truth Gallery spring up, the Glass City Cafe open, TSA doing more with their students, watching businesses like Shakin' Street Records and B-Bop Records begin to fill up vacant store fronts, the Toledo Bikes Co-Op open a new space, Glass City Pedicabs, Pam's Corner, the Main Library continue to thrive--it's really a very rich cultural district now, there is a genuine sense of it becoming more of a neighborhood."

To the list, I'd like to add the nightlife scene provided by Wesley's, The Attic, Manhattan's and Bretz, the multiple antique stores that have recently popped up, and the art galleries and institutions that make the Gallery Loop and 2nd Thursday Artwalks a real pleasure to experience during the summer.

As with any revitalization effort, there's always room for improvement. UpTown still lacks some of the essentials a family or individual might be looking for--a central grocery store, for example. But there's no denying the rapid growth we've already seen on Adams Street and the surrounding area.

The first ever (419) Day (again, that's Thursday, April 19th) begins with a Bicycle Meet-Up at the Attic on Adams (1701 Adams St.) from 4:30-5:30 p.m. A bicycle tour of the neighborhood will begin promptly at 5:30, with stops at the two Toledo GROWs community gardens in UpTown, the location for the planned $1.5 million dollar Signature Park project, and the new location of the Toledo Bikes Co-op. The tour concludes back on Adams St. at 6:15 p.m., where guests can enjoy a number of Happy Hour food and drink options at Manhattan's, Wesley's, The Attic and the Ottawa Tavern. Stay later into the night to enjoy live music, dancing, conversation and munchies at the OT, Bretz Bar and Glass City Cafe.

In addition to food and drink, a variety of pro-Toledo apparel merchandisers and other local crafters will be on-hand to sell their hand-made goodies. For a complete list of (419) Day events, check out the (419) Day event page on Facebook.

Attention UpTown fans! Be a part of the UpTown Strategic Planning Meetings on April 17 and 18. Focus groups for just about every stakeholder (from residents and business owners to educators and non-profit workers) are scheduled, and planners are eager for your input. For more information on these sessions and to learn more about the UpTown Association, visit www.uptowntoledo.org/focus-groups.php.