• LOCATION 28 | Unholy Toledo Tour: Gambling and Gangsters in the Glass City

    Toledo's Biggest Event That Never Happened

    Toledo's Biggest Event That Never Happened on Toledo, Ohio audio tour Unholy Toledo Tour: Gambling and Gangsters in the Glass City

    Up ahead is Jamie Farr Park, follow Summit Steet as is it zig-zags here from left to right and keep heading north toward Point Place.

    When you consider the major events that have been hosted in Toledo, a few come to mind. For example, in chronological order:

    - The Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game held at Armory Park in 1902
    - The King Wamba Carnival in 1909
    - The Dempsey-Willard prizefight at Bay View Park in July 1919, we'll talk about that in a few minutes.
    - The U.S. Open held at Inverness in 1920, 1931, 1957, and 1979
    - The PGA Championship held at Inverness in 1986 and 1983, and
    - The PBA National Championships held at Imperial Lanes and Southwyck Lanes from 1981 through 2002.

    That's a very impressive list of major happenings for a mid-sized city located in the heart of America's Midwest. Toledo can be proud of these events.

    But what about the biggest event to never happen in Toledo? What major affair, scheduled to be hosted in the Glass City, never happened? How about the 1902 Ohio Centennial and Northwest Territory Exposition. What's that? Only the biggest bash ever...to never happen in Toledo! This four-month long extravaganza would have been on par with any major World's Fair. In fact, Fresno State's Henry Madden Library lists the Ohio Centennial as a World's Fair that never happened right alongside other fairs planned but never held in cities like Los Angeles, Tokyo, Rome, and Boston.

    So, where was this World Fair event supposed to happen? Right here along the banks of the Maumee River with the Fair's main midway up ahead in Bay View Park. Sadly, here's what happened. Just when it began to look like the Ohio Centennial and Northwest Territory Exposition was a sure thing for Toledo, the planning began to snowball, the promoters got a bit too greedy, and politics got in the way.

    After Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin all voted to take part in the Exposition and Congress pledged its support with a significant pledge of federal funding, the local leaders asked the state of Ohio for $1,000,000. When the state balked and only promised half of that, the overconfident Toledo planners stunned everyone by turning down the state's offer by saying, it's either $1 million or nothing. Welp, the State of Ohio, called their bluff and walked away from the whole deal. After years of planning, the dream of Toledo hosting a World's Fair vanished in thin air.

    In the end, the State of Ohio allocated a measly $10,000 for a low-key Ohio Centennial celebration in Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital.

    And that's the story of the biggest event to never happen in Toledo.

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Unholy Toledo Tour: Gambling and Gangsters in the Glass City