Explore the graphic series below and read a little bit more about each topic by clicking each letter.
A is for...airport! Established in 1955, the Toledo Express Airport once provided 34 daily flights with 19 non-stop destinations and continues to transport passengers daily on Allegiant Air and American Airlines. Did you know that the runway has the capability to land a Boeing 747-8, the longest passenger aircraft in the world?
B is for...bicycles! Toledo has a special history with bikes, as well as a bikeshare program downtown called ToleGO!
C is for...street cars! In the late 1800s, Toledo had a state-of-the-art electric trolley system (sometimes referred to here as cable cars); however in the 1950s, public transport shifted to a bus system, which we still have today!
D is for...docks! (Or, "The Docks," that is.) Since its start in 1996, The Docks has quickly become a well-known and beloved spot for Toledoans and visitors to enjoy the scenery and delicious food. Have you ever been to The Docks?
E is for...elephant parade! In 1900, the pachyderms marched down Dorr Street on their way to the fairgrounds to be in a circus that was in town.
F is for...Frogtown! Because of Toledo’s history as part of the Great Black Swamp and thus the large population of frogs that inhabited the city, Toledo has the nickname “Frogtown.” As a tribute to the name, in 2001, The Arts Commission coordinated a public art installation called “It’s Reigning Frogs” in the form of over 100 fiberglass frog statues painted by many different artists scattered across the city. Unfortunately, there are only a few left; have you seen any of the remaining ones around the city?
G is for...glass! Along with “Frogtown,” Toledo has another nickname: “The Glass City.” Beginning with The Libbey Glass Company’s move to Toledo in 1888, Toledo has been the home to companies like Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois, continuing the city’s legacy as the “Glass Capital of the World.” The Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza downtown even has a vitrolite mural that reads: “TOLEDO - GLASS CENTER OF THE WORLD."
H is for…hockey! Did you know that Toledo's hockey team has actually had 5 official hockey team names before the Walleye? The Toledo Mercurys, Toledo Blades, Toledo Hornets, Toledo Goaldiggers, and Toledo Storm! As a beloved T-Town Hockey tradition, spectators will occasionally throw real walleye fish onto the ice after the Walleye score.
I is for...industry! Many of the silhouettes of Toledo’s skyline and cityscape are remnants of the industrial era, mainly in the form of smokestacks and brick buildings (some of which are now local businesses and coffee shops!). While Toledo is most well-known for the glass and automotive industries, agriculture, medical technology, alternative energy, and other industries have also contributed to Toledo’s legacy. The city even led the bicycle industry before the era of automobiles!
J is for...Jeep! We all know “Jeep” as an iconic Toledo industrial legacy, but did you know that the word was rumored to have originally come about as a slang term for government vehicles? During World War II, the name “jeep” was attached to the light military 4x4, one of the oldest mass-produced four-wheel drive vehicles. Since Willys-Overland (which later became Jeep) first started making Jeep CJ models in 1945, Jeep has been headquartered in Toledo, making it one of the foremost industries in the city’s history.
K is for...kayak! Spanning 107 miles, the new Maumee River Water Trail is one of the trails that has encouraged people to enjoy kayaking and canoeing along the river. In the era of the Great Black Swamp, kayaks and other types of boats were the major mode of transportation, allowing people to traverse the morasses with ease. Since that time, kayaking has transformed from a necessity into a leisure sport. With the proliferation of water trails all around Ohio, the number of registered kayaks and canoes in Ohio went from 67,880 in 2006 to 162,590 in 2016.
L is for...library! Founded in 1838, the Toledo Library began with sixty-six members that paid an annual fee of two dollars. Now it has become a vital part of the community, providing not only millions of physical materials, but also community programs for all ages, the latest technology (for free!), a local history department with incredible archives, and many other educational resources.
M is for...Mud Hens! Toledo has a long history with baseball, and has had many teams over the years. The Mud Hens, Toledo’s current Minor League team, actually started as the “Swamp Angels” in 1896, and was nicknamed the “Mud Hens” because of the mud hen-filled marsh next to the field. In 1955, however, the team moved to Wichita, Kansas to become the Wichita Braves. Ten years later, a team from Virginia moved to Toledo and adopted the name “Mud Hens” in honor of the previous team.
N is for...the National Museum of the Great Lakes! Located on the Toledo Riverfront and operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society, the museum moved from Vermillion, Ohio to Toledo in 2014. This move allowed them to display the SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker, a historic freighter from 1911 that was considered “Queen of the Lakes." The museum aims to celebrate the natural and man-made history of the Great Lakes and their national significance through interactive exhibits.
O is for...The Old West End! Consisting of twenty-five city blocks of late Victorian-era homes, the Historic Old West End is known not only for its impressive and beautiful architecture, but also for the tight-knit community that resides there. The first home there, made of logs, was built in 1818 and parts of the neighborhood were even placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The lavish house pictured above was owned by the founder of both Libbey Glass and the Toledo Museum of Art, Edward D. Libbey and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey.
P is for...Promenade Park! Betty Mauk, a Toledoan in love with France, was the reason behind downtown’s Promenade Park. Inspired by Paris and the parks there, she wanted to create the look and feel of a Parisian riverside park on the banks of the Maumee. She opened and ran a crepe stand, called La Creperie, in the park to bring the flavor of France to Toledo, and had a twelve foot tall kiosk shipped from France so members of the community could advertise events the Parisian way.
Q is for... Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral! The mother church of the 122 Roman Catholic parishes in Toledo was designed in 1912 in the Spanish Plateresque style, with Toledo’s sister city in Spain in mind. The cathedral houses a 28-foot rose window and other stained glass panels, as well as an Ernest M. Skinner pipe organ, personally finished by Skinner, that remains virtually unaltered from its original state.
R is for... the Repertoire Theatre! The Toledo Repertoire Theatre was founded in 1933, and has continued to provide theatre productions, programs, and education since. The theater produces 11 shows a year, and their annual production of “A Christmas Carol” is one of the many Toledo holiday traditions.
S is for... the Toledo Symphony! Starting out as a few small chamber music groups in the city, The Toledo Orchestra has certainly grown, from the “Friends of Music,” to the “Toledo Orchestra Association,” and finally to its current orchestra of about sixty five professional members. While the Peristyle at the Toledo Museum of Art is the orchestra’s main venue, they perform at many different venues and events in the city. The Symphony is heavily involved in the community, performing at events such as Music Under the Stars, where they play at the Toledo Zoo’s Amphitheatre.
T is for...Tony Packo's! In the midst of the Great Depression, Toledoan Tony Packo and his wife Rose opened a sandwich and ice cream shop using a loan of $100 from their relatives, where Packo created the “Hungarian hot dog”, a Hungarian sausage called Kolbasz cut in half with chilli on top. The hot dog grew in popularity, and the success of the shop grew with it, allowing the Packo’s to buy the building that the restaurant is still in today. Along with Packo’s popularity in the community, the restaurant gained national fame from the television show M*A*S*H, where actor and Toledoan Jamie Farr mentioned the hot dogs in multiple episodes. There is also a tradition of “bun signing,” where famous people stop by the restaurant and sign a hot dog bun to be hung on the wall.
U is for...the University of Toledo! A large part of the Toledo community, the University of Toledo was established in 1872 by Jesup Wakeman Scott, a former Toledo Blade Editor. The university was originally called the “Toledo University of Arts and Trades,” with a mission to “furnish artists and artisans with the best facilities for a high culture in their professions.” Known today simply as “the University of Toledo,” it now has over 250 academic programs, over 300 student organizations and about 20,000 enrolled students.
V is for...Veterans' Glass City Skyway! The Veterans’ Glass City Skyway Bridge has been a defining feature of the Toledo skyline since its opening in 2007. At 8,800 feet long and with a $237 million price tag, the bridge is the Ohio Department of Transportation’s biggest and most expensive single construction project. The community voted on the name and appearance of the bridge, resulting in “glass” as the theme: the tall pylon of the bridge contains glass panels on all four sides, behind which 384 LED fixtures shine. The bridge is a monument to the history of the city, the community and the bright future which lies ahead.
W is for...Water! The Toledo War was fought in 1865 to decide whether the area around Toledo would belong to Michigan or Ohio. One of the main reasons the area was so desirable was its proximity to Lake Erie and the Maumee River. Water is a commodity that is becoming increasingly scarce in some areas of the world. Lake Erie has been a topic of conversation in recent years since the infamous algal bloom crisis of 2014 put our water source in danger.
X is for...(cross)ing! Toledo was a public transit pioneer, once hosting the only circular railroad route in the nation, a novel idea completed in the early 1900s to connect industries into the complex web of rail lines in and around Toledo. In its heyday, it made a double-tracked loop around the city, and carried 1,800 people around its 29-mile route on the opening day of Toledo’s Union Station in 1950.
Y is for...YWCA! Started as a residency for women coming to Toledo to work, the organization helped them find employment and learn life skills. In 1874, the YWCA founded the City Hospital, which later became what we know as Toledo Hospital. They also created an International Institute to provide services for immigrants and international community members, which still exists today.
Z is for...zoo! In 1900, a woodchuck was donated to Walbridge Park. As collection of donated animals grew, the zoo constructed its first brick building, the Lion House; later on, many more buildings were constructed during the Great Depression through the WPA. The Zoo has also done work with local and international conservation, even helping save a toad species from extinction.