Toledo, Ohio, the seat of Lucas County. It lies on the Maumee River at the western end of Lake Erie, 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Detroit and 95 miles (153 km) west of Cleveland.
Toledo is a leading manufacturing and shipping city, as well as the chief commercial center for northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. One of its largest industries is the manufacture of motor vehicles and automotive parts. Toledo also has large plants that make virtually all kinds of glass and fiberglass products. There are also large petroleum refineries. Other industries employing large numbers of workers produce scales, machinery, tools, flour, chemicals, paints, and ships.
With an excellent harbor and a central location in the nation's manufacturing belt, Toledo is one of the nation's leading inland ports. Near the mouth of the Maumee River are docks for loading coal and unloading iron ore. These two products account for most of the tonnage handled in Toledo; grain and general cargo are also important. Other port facilities line both sides of the river for a distance of about seven miles (11 km) from its mouth. Toledo is a rail hub and has a modern airport. It is served by the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 75.
The University of Toledo was founded in 1872. The Toledo Museum of Art houses one of the world's finest collections of glass and also has a concert hall, which serves as the home of the Toledo Orchestra. The Zoological Gardens have a varied collection of more than 2,000 animals. Also at the Zoological Gardens are the Museum of Natural Sciences, a garden center, and an aquarium. Recreation facilities are offered by the city's many parks and at the Lucas County Recreation Center. Nearby historic memorials include Fallen Timbers, the site of a decisive victory over a confederation of Indians in 1794, and Fort Meigs, replica of a fort built during the War of 1812.
In 1794, while fighting Indians of the Lake Erie region, General Anthony Wayne established Fort Industry. Two small villages, Port Lawrence and Vistula, grew up adjacent to Fort Industry, and in 1833 were consolidated as Toledo. In 1835–36, Michigan tried to claim a disputed area on the border with Ohio that included Toledo. In the “Toledo War,” the residents of Ohio and Michigan prepared to fight over the area, but the issue was settled peacefully by the United States government. Ohio retained the disputed area, and Michigan was compensated with what is now the state's upper peninsula.
Toledo was incorporated in 1837. It became an important port after two major canals connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio and Wabash rivers were opened in 1843. The discovery of gas and petroleum in the area led to great industrial growth. In the late 19th century Toledo suffered from corrupt political machines and monopolies that favored a few wealthy people at the expense of the public interest. During the administrations of two reform mayors, Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones (1897–1904) and Brand Whitlock (1905–13), much progress was made in reforming city government.
The city's industrial development continued during the 20th century. In 1959, with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean, Toledo's importance as a port was greatly increased. In the late 20th century, Toledo, like many other major northern cities, lost population, its total dropping some 13 per cent during 1970–90.