May 16, 2007

Downward Mobility in Toledo

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The empty shell of the former Haughton Elevator Company on Spencer Street in Toledo Left: The empty shell of the former Haughton Elevator Company on Spencer Street in Toledo

(Toledo, OH) It was with a tinge of sadness that I stopped by the old Haughton Elevator Company headquarters on Spencer Avenue today. The building has been empty since 1989, when Swiss elevator maker Schindler Group AG - which bought Haughton in 1979 - moved the remaining operations out to the suburbs.

The final demolition of Haughton Elevator will bring to an end another chapter in the industrial history of Toledo, a city that once boasted a thriving tax base but which now has trouble attracting businesses even with generous tax abatements.

They do not call the Upper Midwest the "Rust Belt" without good reason, and the demolition of Haughton Elevator merely adds an exclamation mark to Toledo's experience as a center of industrial devolution.

Spencer Street entrance to the former Haughton Elevator facilityLeft: Spencer Street entrance to the former Haughton Elevator facility

Founded in 1865 by Civil War officer Nathaniel Haughton, the Haughton & Kniesser company was a foundry and machine business. The firm changed its name to the Haughton Elevator & Machine Company, and in 1888 began producing elevators.

The current site had been home to Haughton Elevator since 1901, and the company was once the third-largest elevator manufacturer in the country.

For neighbors of the shuttered manufacturing facility, I suppose the demolition of Haughton Elevator represents the elimination of a prominent hunk of urban blight, but to watch a former industrial anchor fall to the wrecking ball is indeed a depressing sight in Toledo.

Perhaps the city will get lucky and entice a check-cashing firm and a big-box drugstore to the site, as those seem to be the most successful enterprises these days in the middle of the American industrial wasteland.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here Mike - have a Prozac.

--JD

historymike said...

I'd need something stronger than Prozac to dull the despair of watching Toledo crumble.

microdot said...

Whoa, that Prozac remark made an impression on me. Is everybody in America on Prozac? Is that part of the syndrome?
Get up, stand up, get mad, do something!
Being originally a Detroit Native,I spend some time once and a while on the website...the fabulous ruins
http://detroityes.com/home.htm
Incredibly bleak tours of industrial waste and an era that will never happen again.
Toledo needs a site documenting these things.
Jeffrey Smiths' http://justacomment.blogspot.com is a great collection of the history of Toledo. He's taken a hiatus for a few weeks, but his work is worth looking at. As a whole it is unequaled.

Hooda Thunkit said...

"Perhaps the city will get lucky and entice a check-cashing firm and a big-box drugstore to the site, as those seem to be the most successful enterprises these days in the middle of the American industrial wasteland."

No way!

Spencer does not have the "drive-past" ability to draw such lucrative enterprises; no matter how unneeded/unnecessary.

KraZyKaT said...

So now we have a Junk Yard wanting to take this place.

Auto parts yard proposed

What a waste

Anonymous said...

I worked at Haughton as an 18 year old timekeeper, working the night shift with just the security guard in the building. Big machinery,dark shadows...ittook some courage to work through the gloomf the building at night.
But I was treated well, right up to my joining the AIR Force at 18 -during the Viet Nam time of 1968.
Sorry to see that building go...I was proud to work there.

Nocturnal said...

I really enjoy this piece. I would like to see more discussion about the post industrial waste that Toledo, and the rest of the Rust belt, is becoming.

It reminds me of a documentary that I recently saw "Manufactured Landscapes" which explores decaying infrastructure among other things.

Thanks again,

SSD.