Franklin Park Mall: The History of Toledo’s Shopping Destination

Locals’ memories of Franklin Park Mall might include a favorite store or a memorable first date at the movie theater, the aroma of freshly baked pretzels or recall riding up and down the escalators at Dick’s Sporting Goods when they were a kid, when those moments were a brand new adventure. 

A trip down memory lane to a lost era of American shopping malls may recall Hobby Center Toys and the Rainbow Shop, York SteakHouse and Hickory Farms and the Red Baron arcade and National Record Mart; harkening to a time when the Mall was a destination for  a family outing.

Author Chris Bores explores Franklin Park Mall’s  history and community impact with The Franklin Park Mall: A History.

Where it all began

“I wrote Haunted Toledo (which led me to)  spend a lot of time peeling back the layers of the City, and I also did a book on the history of the Sandusky Mall, from where I grew up,” Bores said. “Since that book was so well received, I decided to focus on Franklin Park Mall. There is so much rich history there, and we are at a point where people are nostalgic for the retail history they grew up with, the Mall especially.”

Bores explained how the Mall began with a rocky start,  taking about 20 years before it was built. The idea for the shopping area was first proposed in 1952 as a huge shopping plaza, but the Westgate Village Shopping Center developers beat them to the punch. “The idea gestated for years until malls became popular,” Bores explained. “JC Penney’s development team eventually got involved and pushed the project forward.”

Shopping history

After consulting countless library books, digging through the city’s business registry and reviewing years of archived newspaper articles, Bores compiled a comprehensive history of the Franklin Park Mall. The book is divided into three sections: how the Mall came to be; a breakdown of each individual retail space; and, a look at the Mall’s expansions over the years.

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Toledo history-aficionados will enjoy Bores’ historic perspective on Franklin Park Mall (along with the 400+ photographs). “If you visited Franklin Park Mall in the 70s and 80s, this book will bring back many memories,” one reader commented. “This is a great history of Franklin Park Mall. Loved walking down Memory Lane with all the wonderful photos and stories of all the great stores I grew up shopping at,” added another reader.

The Franklin Park Mall: A History is available for purchase on Published November 2023.

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