Birmingham Days: Life and Times in Toledo's Hungarian Neighborhood

From the beginning, Birmingham's strategic location near the mouth of the Maumee River was attractive to settlers in northwest Ohio. The locale's easy access to Lake Erie, its abundant fresh fish, and its situation under a major migratory bird route made it appealing to Native American tribal groups even before the first Europeans arrived. What was to become the Birmingham neighborhood was inhabited early on by French, German, and Irish farmers who were impressed with the setting's rich, loamy soil. Streets and park names such as Collins, Valentine, and Paine commemorate these early farming settlers.[Read the complete article]

Related resource:

Hungarian American Toledo: life and times in Toledo's Birmingham neighborhood, ed. by Thomas E. Barden & John Ahern (catalog record)

Joseph Bistayi Hungarian Sound Recordings Collection, n.d., MSS-086 (Canaday Center finding aid)

Hungarian Sound Records Collection, ca. 1982, MSS-111 (Canaday Center finding aid)



Hines Farm Blues Club

The whole thing started in Frank and Sarah Hines' basement. By the time they built the club itself in 1957, Hines' Farm was already in full swing as a blues center. They had received a state liquor license in the late '40s when they were still operating out of the basement; in fact, they were the first African Americans in Northwest Ohio to have one. Blind Bobby Smith, a Toledo blues guitarist who did session work in the '60s for Stax Records, used to play in their basement in those days. He remembers how the party would start outside, but "after they'd close down outdoors we'd all pile in the basement. In the wintertime he [Frank Hines] just ran it out of the house. It was, you know, everybody talkin' at the same time...passing the bottle around, and Hines wishin' everybody'd get out of there so he could go to bed." [Read the complete article]

Related resources:

Hines Farm Blues Club (slide show)

I'll take you there: An oral and photographic history of the Hines Farm blues club, by Matthew A. Donahue (catalog record)


Toledo Topics: Life at the Top in Jazz Age Toledo

For Toledo industrialists, times could not have been better. For Toledo, as for the nation as a whole, the 1920s were a time of great industrial expansion. In that decade, still driven by coal and steam, Toledo was a major hub in the nation's transportation system. Its fifteen miles of riverfront loaded and unloaded over 4,000 freighters each year. Ti was an automobile center second only to Detroit. Its largest employer, Willys Overland, produced more cars in the 1920s than any other U. S. manufacturer but Ford. Glass was Toledo's other high tech industry. Its glass companies enjoyed a monopoly based on ownership of key patents on numerous production innovations. Toledo firms produced a mountain of glass of their own, but, through control of patent licensing agreements,virtually every piece of glass made in America by any manufacturer returned profits to Toledo companies. [Read the complete article]

Related resources:

Toledo Topics (slide show)

Toledo Topics Gallery

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