Old Images of Toledo, Ohio

Old postcard of Madison Avenue in Toledo, Ohio, published in 1905

Glimpse history through fascinating old images of Toledo in Ohio.

David Dows

We start with a lithograph published in 1882, advertising the Union Railroad Elevator Company. It highlights Toledo’s importance as a grain port, railway hub and ship building center.

The large ship is called the David Dows. It was the first and only five-masted schooner built on the Great Lakes, and when it was completed in 1881 it was the largest schooner in the world.

Manual Training School

Toledo’s first university, established by the editor of the Toledo Blade, Jesup Wakeman Scott, was only open between 1872 and 1878.

His sons Frank, William, and Maurice gifted the university’s land and assets to the city of Toledo, under a trust to establish Toledo University.

The first department to be opened, the Manual Training School, was set up on the top floor of the Central High School, and was a great success.

Even after it became the Toledo University Polytechnic School in 1900, many people continued to call it the Manual Training School.

There were various long battles between the Board of Directors and the Board of Education, the Scott farm family, one of the 1872 trustees, one of the university presidents, and a professor of ecomonics.

We know that in 1908 the city paid $2,400 to purchase an elephant for the zoo, because of a dispute about the city’s refusal to fund the university, leading to a settlement of $2,400 on the educational establishment.

Given the great financial problems the institution had in the early years of the twentieth century, leading to directors funding some of it out of their own pockets, and then a fire at the Toledo Medical College in 1911, it was a shame that in 1900 the Board of Directors had turned down an anonymous gift from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. He went on to establish the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.

Summit Street

On the day this old photo of Summit Street was taken, people were out in great numbers going about their daily lives.

There’s a car driving down the street, making its way across the rails of the streetcar system. Meanwhile, all the deliveries are being made by horse and cart.

The street lamps and clocks are beautiful and ornate.

This picture is so interesting, I’ve added two closeups too.

Madison Avenue

I’ve created a couple of closeup images from this lovely old photo of Madison Avenue, so you can see more of the little details.

You’ll notice there’s a car parked on the street, but all the other vehicles seem to be horse driven. There’s even a horse coming up to the junction.

All the men are wearing hats and jackets, but there don’t seem to be any women or children around at the time.

Spitzer Building

The 10-storey Spitzer Building in downtown Toledo is one of Ohio’s oldest buildings, having been constrcuted between 1893 and 1896.

In 2022, the state granted a $1 million fund to cleanup the building, including the removal of asbestos and led-based paint, and help restore it to its former glory.

This old photo of the Spitzer Building shows the activity taking place on the street, so I’ve created a closeup of the vehicles and the activity round the kiosk, which advertises the Toledo Bee.


I couldn’t work out what building this is. It has many similarities to the Spitzer Building and the Nicholas Building, so perhaps like them it was built in the 1890s.

Next to the old photo I’ve added closeups of the two fronts of the building at street level, when the traffic was dominated by horse driven vehicles.

View of Toledo

This early photo of Toledo was taken when ladies still wore full length skirts, as you’ll see in one of the three closeups I’ve added of this image.

The streets seem deserted, apart from the people who seem to be walking towards the church. Perhaps this was a Sunday morning?

Secor Hotel

The Secor Hotel, based at 413-423 Jefferson Avenue, was built in 1908.

This old image of the Secor Hotel shows a streetcar going by, and just a few early cars on the street.

Chandalier Building

In 1892, the Central Chandalier Company moved into its new premises on Michigan Street. It’s the building on the right hand side of this old photo.

The building was renamed in 1906, becoming the Meredith Building, and then again in 1947 when it was known as the Franklin Building. Just nine years later it changed name again, this time to the Port Lawrence Building.

Although it was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places back in 1970, the building was subsequently demolished.

Old Photos of Toledo

Each old photo of Toledo in this video has been labelled with the location and date, so you always know when and where you are.

Each of the old photos was taken between 1890 and 1910.

It’s an age of long skirts, big bonnets, caps, horses and carts, streetcars, and elegant buildings.

Old photos of Toledo(Ohio)1890-1910 – oldstuff4all on YouTube

Toledo State Hospital

This video showcases old photos of the Toledo Asylum for the Insane, which opened in 1888, and was later known as the Toledo State Hospital.

Within the 1, 167 acres of grounds were the separate hospital buildings for men and women, an administration building, a nurses’ home, an auditorium, a chapel, a farm, a greenhouse, the Grotto, the Lily Pond, and the Upper Lake.

People were often sent to these institutons for neurodivergence and mental health issues which today can be effectively treated and supported in the community, but mental health treatment was still largely experimental at the time.

Added to their mental health issues, the long term residents would have become institutionalised, unable to live independently. So there were also two cemetaries, where almost 2,000 of the hospital’s patients were laid to rest.

By 1931, the hospital was overcrowded, with an average of 2,2,85 patients, 377 beyond its capacity. That year 250 people worked at the hospital.

The hospital was entirely closed by the 1990s.

Toledo Ohio Insane Asylum – ReelNostalgia on YouTube

Toledo Drive 1995

This is a home movie recorded while driving around Toledo’s highways and streets in 1995.

It includes the old Jeep Plant, the Federal Building, the Sports Arena, and the old I-280, and the Front Street interchange.

Driving Around Toledo in 1995 – Kevin Kneisel on YouTube

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