Ohio & Michigan's Oldest and Largest Latino Newspaper

Since 1989




    media kit    ad rates    classified ad rates    about us    contact us


La Prensa Home

Upcoming Events

La Prensa Photos

La Prensa Links

LatinoMix Radio

La Prensa Scholarships

Directory of Latino Businesses and Services

La Prensa Obituaries

La Prensa Classifieds

Past La Prensa Stories

Submit a Letter to the Editor

La Liga de Las Americas

East Side Story: Latino community roots run deep in Toledo’s East Side


By Rico de La Prensa 


The Mexican Diaspora of the 1920s fanned out to all parts of the United States, including its Great Lakes Region, to cities such as Lansing, Detroit, Monroe, Toledo, Lorain, and Cleveland. These cities offered hope to a suffering people, with vast opportunities in industry and other jobs.  


Mexicanos were reacting to México’s violent decade-plus of revolution, where over 2 million of its citizens were killed. Most migrated via Texas or California. 

The 1942 celebration of the Rudy Valdez Wedding, held at Navarre Park


As part of this migration, at least 11 Mexican or Tejano families moved to Toledo, and settled on its East Side—familias with surnames such as Alvarado, Contreras, and Flores. They adapted and learned English quickly, as is usually done with immigrant families.


Most of the men worked for the railroads, which ran primarily through the East Side. Mexicanos lived literally on the other side of the tracks.


For this reason, the East Side became the historical section of a thriving Mexican community, with annual gatherings at its Navarre Park, bounded by Navarre, White, Varland, and Woodville Streets.


John García, the first Latino elected to the General Assembly in Ohio, while not an original East Sider, was active as an East Sider. He is memorialized today by John G. García Way—located on the East Side (portion of Vinal Street).  


The pioneer East Side Latino settlers included la familias Alvarado, Cervantes, Vásquez, Villa, Placencio, Tello, Chávez, Ceniceros, Arzate, Collazo, Rodríguez, Delgado, and Salazar.  Civic leaders such as Danny Contreras and the beloved Judge Joseph A. Flores proudly trace their roots to the East Side.


The photograph on the front page of La Prensa is from the 1942 celebration of the Rudy Valdez Wedding, held at Navarre Park.


In a nutshell, the East Side is steeped in Latino history and tradition. To ignore its significance is to deny the pioneers of Toledo’s Latino community their place in history.  Today, it hosts Good Shepherd Church, the East Side Family Center (Vinal and East Broadway Streets), and the East Toledo Wrestling Club, all of which service significant Latino populations.


It’s public high school, Waite, has a significant Latino population and an active Latino club. 


There were some migrations to the North End. La familia Contreras originally lived on the East Side before relocating to the North Side.  Danny Contreras vividly recalls moving to the North End from the East Side when he was in grade school, where he subsequently attended St. Joseph Catholic Church on Locust Street, which was founded in 1854.


Today, the North End is home to the Friendly Center on North Superior Street—it too serves a significant number of Latinos.  


La familia González, of which Ruth García is a member, also lived on the North End. Some of this history can be read in writings by Sally (née González) Cortez, on file at the Toledo-Lucas County Library.

Judge Joseph A. Flores circa 1943


Latinos also migrated to the South End, where Father Gorman established a Latino flock at the Guadalupe Center.


Although public misconception that Toledo’s South Side is synonymous with Latino population, a recent survey shows that more than two/thirds of area Latinos do not live in the South End.


The survey was conducted by NBC Universal in 2005 and made available to La Prensa through the courtesy of Florence Buchanan of Buckeye Cable.  The highlight is a table showing the Zip Codes with the highest Latino population density.


The East Side Zip Code of 43605 lists a total population of 30,174 of which 4,144 are Latino, for a total of 13.7 percentage of the population.


Those population stats for Latinos are the highest in the Greater Toledo area.


The South Side Zip Code of 43609 shows a total population of 26,060 and a Latino population of 3,501, or 13.4 percent.


And when the stats for the East Side are added together with the following, the total number far surpasses that given for the South Side.


For instance, Zip Code 43604 which covers downtown with a total population of 5,182 shows 639 Latinos for a 12.4 percentage.


Toledo Zip Code 43608, covering the North End, has a total population of 18,188 of which 1, 923 are Latino, for a 10.6 percentage.


And there’s more.


The following six Toledo Zip Codes also reported Latino populations exceeding 1,000:


43611: 1,102 Latinos.

43612: 1,618 Latinos

43614: 1,116 Latinos

43615: 1, 353 Latinos

43613: 1,082 Latinos


And Perrysburg Zip Code 43551 reports a Latino population of 1,134.


In short, all portions of Toledo have significant populations of Latinos, but it was the East Side that was the historical barrio, and it still hosts the largest number of Latinos.


Editor’s Note: La Prensa is interested in archiving histories of Latino families throughout Michigan and Ohio; anyone with photographs and histories should contact Rico at: [email protected] or at 313-729-4435.  La Prensa Senior Correspondent Alan Abrams contributed to this report.







Web laprensa


«Tinta con sabor»     Ink with flavor!



Spanglish Weekly/Semanal

Your reliable source for current Latino news and events providing English and Spanish articles


Culturas Publication, Inc. d.b.a. La Prensa Newspaper

© Copyrighted by  Culturas Publication, Inc. 2005