You Will Learn More at the Toledo Library

by john amato

Last week I did something I haven’t done in a while: I visited the library. Weird, right? Why visit the library when you can find everything you need to know on the internet? Well I learned something that’s probably pretty obvious: the library is an amazing source of information.

Usually when I want a book, I’ll go to one branch of the library or another. Very rarely do I go to the main library in downtown Toledo. This time I wasn’t just looking to checkout a book, I wanted to look up some information about the history of football in Toledo. Once again, although I probably shouldn’t have been, I was surprised to find that the downtown library has an entire floor dedicated to Toledo history and genealogy.

This section is amazing. They have binders and binders filled with almost any Toledo topic you can think of. They brought me binders packed with information on Toledo sports, slogans, department stores, or whatever I could think of. You should definitely visit and see what you can learn.

One of the coolest things I learned was the actual documented history of the “You Will Do Better In Toledo” sign. If you search the internets for the answer, this mention in Time is what you’ll find. However, I think I’ll side with the Toledo Blade on this one. In an article dated December 5, 1977, a woman asks about the location of a sign which used to be posted in downtown Toledo that featured a big locomotive, a lake freighter, and the slogan. Here is the response:

It was the Valentine Building, erected there by the old Toledo Commerce Club after a slogan contest in June, 1913. The winning slogan, “You’ll Do Better In Toledo,” was submitted by four persons. It was determined that C.W. Lammers had his entry in first, and he got the gold medal. There were more than 7,000 entries.

The sign, above, was lighted first on the night of Dec. 17, 1913, while 8,000 spectators cheered and Mayor Brand Whitlock made a speech. The sign, built and donated by the Henry L. Doherty Co., new owners of the Toledo Railway & Light Co., was 100 feet long and 50 feet high. It was in three sections: the big locomotive, the slogan, and a lighted lake freighter. A second slogan read: “Where Rail and Water Meet.” The sign came down in 1926 when the city offices that occupied the Valentine Building moved out.

It’s amazing the things you can learn at the library.


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