By the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections
By choosing the name “Toledo,” the founders of the city in 1837 seemed interested in promoting it as a place with an international focus. It is uncertain why “Toledo” was selected as the name for the new entity. At the time, all things Spanish were in vogue, and the name may have been a way to not only honor Toledo, Spain, but also as a way to portray the new Toledo as fashionable, trendy, and perhaps exotic.
It was not only its name that seemed to predict the city’s global focus. In 1868 one of its early land investors, Jesup W. Scott, published a pamphlet promoting Toledo titled “A Presentation of Causes Tending to Fix the Position of the Future Great City of the World in the Central Plain of North America.” In the pamphlet, Scott laid out his theory that since ancient times, the world’s economic center had been moving westward, and it would only be a matter of time before the next great commercial center would be located in the interior of the United States. It is perhaps not surprising that someone who owned a great deal of real estate in Toledo would promote the city as that Future Great City of the World.
The dream of Toledo as the world’s future great city would influence generations. Every new industry, every new development, all were evidence of the greatness of Toledo and its future as a center of world commerce. It even influenced Jesup Scott to endow a university to provide educational opportunities to the young people of Toledo, who would help to establish the Future Great City. And while Toledo would never become the world’s greatest city, it did, through its largest industry, establish itself as the Glass Capital of the World.
This exhibit looks at both the influence of Toledo on the world and the influence of the world on Toledo. It examines individuals from Toledo who traveled to far-flung places and brought back ideas that shaped their future and that of the city. It also looks at how people from Toledo changed the world, the ways in which soldiers from the city were affected by their international military service, how immigration of people from foreign lands impacted the city’s ethnic diversity, and finally, how Toledo businesses and industries expanded to become global corporations.
This exhibit is an historical one, but it is important to remember that globalization is an ongoing movement that has been hastened in recent decades by technology. Globalization has had both a positive and negative impact on Toledo. While the world seems ever closer, its closeness brings uncertainty. It is hoped that this exhibit will remind us that Toledo’s interactions with the world have been mutually beneficial and that embracing globalization will continue to provide opportunities for exchange that will improve the city and the world.