On road trips and long journeys, roadside signs are often a welcome sight, marking your progress from location to location and hinting at lives different from your own. But as pleasant as they seem might seem to the traveler, they often symbolize something just as powerful to the towns and cities they belong to. The city of Toledo, OH, for example, recently erected new roadside signs bearing the city slogan that has been used for over a century.
Toledo’s slogan “You Will Do Better in Toledo” was first unveiled in 1913 on a sign topping the city’s Valentine Theatre. Illuminated by 7,000 light bulbs, the message had been chosen out of thousands of submissions in a contest held by the Toledo Commerce Club. In recent years, the catchphrase has appeared on T-shirts, pint glasses, baby clothes and more as people in the area have reclaimed the optimistic motto.
Recently, the city decided to continue the trend by adding the slogan to their roadside signs. On Wednesday, December 17, the 101st anniversary of the slogan’s release, the city installed the first of 55 road signs, all reading “You Will Do Better in Toledo”. To honor the original sign at Valentine Theatre, the black and white board uses vintage type surrounded by dots, recalling the lightbulbs that illuminated the message a century ago.
The new roadside signs will replace older, blue and yellow signs that read “Welcome to Tole-do!” and featured the University of Toledo’s rocket logo. While city officials have commented that the university is a key part of the community, they say that the new signs better represent the city as a whole. The city has not yet decided what they will do with the old signs, but say that many people in the area are interested in buying them.
Although the signs are a fairly recent change, the Toledo community already seems extremely supportive. Many people, already familiar with the “You Will Do Better in Toledo” slogan, say that it represents and encourages the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. Moreover, because the Valentine Theatre sign was taken down in 1926 and eventually lost to history, the renewal of a piece of the city’s legacy has been welcomed.
“Signs are be a great way to communicate the message and express the culture of a community over and over so that it becomes a part of the way that community operates and is perceived by others,” says Mike Butler of Landmark Sign Company. “Using signs to communicate that message throughout any community creates the highest number and best quality of impressions versus most any other medium.”
The new road signs were made by the city’s transportation division sign shop at the cost of roughly $65 each, including labor and installation. In total, the city manufactured about 85 signs, costing the city $5,530. In the next several weeks, 55 signs will be installed along the city limits, while the remainder will be saved to replace any that are damaged.