Jeep Administration Building Implosion

April 14, 1979

Jeep officials said the building was too expensive to keep, that they needed the parking spaces.  It was 64 years old, built in 1914, and had been vacant for five years. The demolition was announced less than 60 days before the implosion date.

We were all so disappointed. To think what a beautiful, distinctive, classic and uniquely famous building was being torn down for a parking lot. Dare I say, it would have made a fabulous local art and industry museum, or maybe a community art center, at the very least!

As the Jeep Administration Building in Toledo, Ohio was being made ready to blow up, the classic, 63 year old Waldorf Hotel on Summit Street and Madison Avenue was being torn down, to make way for a bank.

Tommy was a punk rock drummer in a Detroit band. And quite the great drummer, at that. He seemed like the perfect metaphor of the pending doom – he was like the dynamite that was going to blow up the building. Out with the old, in with the new, rock and roll style. I thought punk was the perfect answer to disco.

I asked him to make some pictures with me inside the building in February and March, culminating somehow by getting onto the roof of the building, where Tommy stood on a ladder over West Toledo, and then posed on the building’s edge in an oxygen tent, like a punk angel overseeing the Jeep factory buildings, with the Toledo skyline on the horizon.

One day nearly two years after this shoot, Tom said to me, I’m moving to New York, do you want to come? Of course I said yes. We’ve been together ever since. Tommy (his drummer name, his real name is Tom), the proverbial dynamite of the Jeep Administration Building implosion, turned out to be the spark that changed my life.

We actually moved to New York on April 13, staying at a New Jersey hotel that night before we drove over the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan and down Broadway on the morning of April 14, 1981, exactly two years after the implosion Jeep Administration Building. It didn’t even cross our minds at the time. We were, after all, two nonchalant punk brats. In fact, not until right now have I ever realized what a fortuitous day that was for us.

Hotel Waldorf’s replacement — the Toledo Trust Bank building, oh-so-modern, but now is a building owned by Promedica whose headquarters is in the old steam plant building behind it on the river. The building now features a steak restaurant on the ground floor, where the tellers used to be.
Hotel Waldorf opened in 1916. It was famous for its marble lobby and for being fireproof.
Wrecking ball meets Hotel Waldorf, March 1979
View from the roof of the Jeep Administration Building, March 1979. The little clump of buildings in the center of the horizon is downtown Toledo. All those factory buildings shown here and more to the right were demolished in 2002 and 2006. All that remains is a single smokestack to mark the spot.

Is life the car or the road?

There’s a car involved (a Jeep) there’s a road involved (40 years so far), and there’s some dynamite, in the form of a couple of beating hearts (or is it music?) …. today is much more than just the 40th anniversary of the Jeep Administration Building implosion.

But we are still sorry to see it go.