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History of the Market
If walls could talk, the Erie Street Market would tell a dramatic tale, complete with the names of such legendary performers as Elvis Presley and boxer Joe Louis. Since being built in 1913, this site has led many “lives”, all sharing one common quality: the focus of public attention. The Erie Street Market is, quite simply, a star.
In 1913, the Erie Street Market was constructed as an open-air warehouse for wholesale fruit and vegetable farmers. To sell their fresh products efficiently, the farmers would drive their trucks inside the building, and let the day’s bargaining begin.
In the 1920’s, city officials turned to the Market when the public demanded a gathering place to hold conventions and attract people downtown. They renovated the facility and, in 1927, the Civic Auditorium opened its doors for the first time as a public exhibition and entertainment hall.
The Auditorium’s stage, where customers now relax at café tables, was host to many famous entertainers and celebrities. Elvis Presley performed on that very stage in the early 1960’s! People from Toledo and beyond came to the Civic Auditorium for trade expos, bridal shows, automobile exhibitions, flower shows and even boxing matches – including a match featuring Joe Louis!
Despite its long-time popularity, the Civic Auditorium began losing its crowds in the late 1960s to the Toledo Sports Arena and the Lucas County Recreation Center. Due to poor attendance, the Civic Auditorium was forced to close its doors. Even the once-thriving Market did not survive.
Nearly 70 years later, downtown Toledo experienced a renaissance, and with it a revival of this celebrated facility. The Erie Street Market was renovated and opened its doors in 1997 as the first indoor public market in Northwest Ohio. If only these walls could talk, the Erie Street Market would surely tell us: “I’m still a star.”