The city was founded in 1833 on the west bank of the Maumee River and originally incorporated as part of Monroe County, Michigan Territory. Unfortunately the cartographers doing the early surveys of the Midwest had screwed up the southernmost point of Lake Michigan, which was used to determine the southern border of Michigan. Once the discrepancy was discovered, it was found that Toledo actually belonged to the state of Ohio, not the Michigan territory.
Tempers flared, and over 1835-1836 Michigan and Ohio gathered their militias ready to fight it out. In the end Congress and President Jackson awarded Toledo to Ohio, and Michigan got its upper peninsula as a consolation prize. (The incident is now referred to as "The Toledo War".) Thus, the "loser" of the Toledo War ended up being Wisconsin, which didn't even exist yet.
Toledo was then re-founded in 1837 at which time it was properly incorporated in Ohio. Toledo grew quickly as a result of the Miami and Erie Canal and its position on the railway line between New York and Chicago.
While having taken a sizable hit in the collapse of the auto industry along with the nearby cities of Detroit and Cleveland, it has still become a city well known for its industry, particularly in glass (giving it its nickname of "The Glass City") and auto assembly, as well as for its art community, education, and local sports teams. It also prides itself on the Toledo Zoo, which is touted as being one of the top ten in the nation.
In fiction, the city is a favorite to mean a not-really-significant-place. Even its residents aren't immune to this. Once a tourism campaign for the city ("Toledo" as in things to do), was turned into a Simpsons reference of "D'oh!" instead of "Do". While Cleveland holds claim to the name "The Mistake on the Lake", sometimes Toledo is called "The Other Mistake of the Lake".
Works set in or citing Toledo, OhioComedy
- George Carlin's sixth album was titled Toledo Window Box. It refers to a strain of marijuana he claimed was once offered to him.
- In Michael Moore's breakthrough film, Roger & Me, Moore and his film crew impersonate a film crew from Toledo. They film the last chassis to roll off the assembly line in one of Flint's most historic factories.
- In Apocalypse Now, we learn that Willard is from Toledo during his first confrontation with Kurtz.
- In Brewster's Millions (1985), it is mentioned that Brewster's highest-paying job was a year playing for the Toledo Mud Hens.
- In Fahrenheit 451 (2018), the head firefighter from Toledo is shown in a videocall.
- Half Magic is set in Toledo, which was author Edward Eager's childhood home.
- In the web-based alternate history timeline of 1983: Doomsday, Toledo becomes the largest metropolis in North America because it didn't get nuked.
Live Action TV
- M*A*S*H. Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger is from Toledo, as is Jamie Farr, the actor who played him (Farr is actually from the Toledo suburb of Sylvania, which, interestingly, didn't suffer an electrical outage during the Great Blackout of 2003, which did cause a blackout in Toledo proper).
- Melissa & Joey is set in Toledo, and Melissa is a councillor.
- In an episode of Grey's Anatomy,"The Girl With No Name", Dr. Alex Karev goes to interview at a city in the middle of nowhere, and goes on to state that the city is Toledo.
- The Drew Carey Show, set in Drew Carey's real hometown of Cleveland, makes several references to Toledo. A few notable examples include Mr. Wick being sent there by the Winfred Louder board for retraining, Mimi being rewarded for a good idea with a gift certificate that can only be used at their Toledo store (and only under some very specific conditions), and Drew's brother Steve attending a porcelain doll convention hosted by the city.
- In the season 2 finale for The Last Ship Rachel says she's been chosen to take the cure to several cities, including Toledo.
- Home Improvement, set in Tim Allen's hometown of Detroit, has two episodes that see a member of the Taylor family visit Toledo. Tim Taylor's high-school shop class teacher, Art Leonard, is from Toledo, and Tim visits his house just to complain about an incorrectly-welded tool box from his shop class days. In another episode, Tim's wife Jill ends up in Toledo in search of her old piano on the night of her early birthday party, and finds out that the piano's new owner, her cousin Henry, had converted it into a combination aquarium/model railroad.
- John Denver popularized the song "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio". It was written in 1967 when Randy Sparks and his group arrived in Toledo at 10 PM on a Saturday night, and found everything closed. Following a performance of the song on The Tonight Show, there was a large public outcry from Toledo residents. In response, the City Fathers recorded a song entitled "We're Strong For Toledo". Ultimately the controversy was such that John Denver canceled a concert shortly thereafter, but when Denver returned for a 1980 concert, he set a one-show attendance record at the venue, Centennial Hall, and sang the song as well to the approval of the crowd.
You ask how I know of Toledo, Ohio/Well, I spent a week there one day…
- In Kenny Rogers' "Lucille", the singer mentions being "[i]n a bar in Toledo, across from the depot."
- "Our Song", on Yes' 90125 album, mentions the city several times.
- The Ray Stevens song "Erik the Awful", about a Viking who will chase you to the ends of the Earth and chases people through Toledo at one point in the song.
- In Crankshaft, the main character is a former pro baseball player who spent the majority of his playing days with the Toledo Mud Hens.
- Artwork on a wandering monster card in the basic Munchkin set has a monster hitchhiking and holding a sign that says "Toledo".
- The old man in The Time of Your Life identified in the Dramatis Personae as "Kit Carson" (which may or may not be his name). Among his many stories is one about herding cattle on a bicycle in Toledo, Ohio in 1918, when a hurricane struck the town and left him floating northwest sitting on the roof of a house.
- In his "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue in Crash Team Racing, it is said that N. Gin opened a custom auto parts store in Toledo.
- Iggy Pop, as the DJ of the classic rock station in Grand Theft Auto IV, mentions that Joe Walsh is the greatest guitar player to come out of Toledo in his intro the song "Rocky Mountain Way". Note: Joe Walsh, while spending part of his youth in Columbus and attending Kent State University, is not from Toledo.
- The original VeggieTales short "Where's God When I'm S-s-scared?" reveals that the actor playing FrankenCelery in a horror movie that scared Junior Asparagus is actually a pretty nice guy. His name is Phil Winklestein, and he`s from Toledo, Ohio.
- The Penguins of Madagascar: Marlene points out that a zoo inmate Skipper believes "disappeared under suspicious circumstances" was actually just transferred to Toledo.note
We've all heard the phrase "Holy Toledo!" in fiction. It's an exclamation of surprise, but its origins are unknown. No one's even sure if it refers to Toledo, Ohio or Toledo, Spain. Locally it pops up often, and is unavoidable in local religion stories.
Oh, and on that note...
Yes, there's also a city named Toledo in Spain, but it's pronounced differently. The American pronunciation is "tuh-LEE-doe"; in Spanish, it's "toe-LAY-doe".
Famous people from Toledo
- Anita Baker: R&B legend. Was born here though she was raised in Detroit.
- Daws Butler: Voice actor who voiced Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and many other famed characters.
- Vanessa Bell Calloway: Actress and dancer, best known for playing Princess Imani Izzi in Coming to America.
- Jason Dohring: Actor, best known for Veronica Mars.
- Jamie Farr: Actor in M*A*S*H, as already mentioned above
- Katie Holmes: Actress, best known for her playing Joey Potter in Dawson's Creek. She's also the ex-wife of Tom Cruise—yes, the one he acted crazy about on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
- Eugene F. "Gene" Kranz: retired NASA flight director who served during the Gemini & Apollo space programs, known for his role in the rescue of Apollo 13
- P. J. O'Rourke: Political satirist, journalist, writer
- Allen Saunders: Cartoonist, creator of Mary Worth and Steve Roper comic strips. (Many of his characters are named after Toledo Streets)
- Alyson Stoner: Actress known for the Step Up film series, Camp Rock, Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
- Bonnie Turner: Co-creator of That '70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
- Adrianne Palicki: Actress, best known for Friday Night Lights, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Orville.
- Scott Wozniak: YouTube personality.