Lesson #32: Lima, Ohio

I stumbled over a strange bit of information today while reading a nearly seven year old article posted by the ALA about some shady run-ins with the DHS over some HazMat documents. Lima, Ohio is a real place.

That’s random, I know. Why would I think it wasn’t?

One of my favourite new TV shows (Glee) is set in a town called Lima, Ohio, which I just assumed was fictional in the way that Sunnydale (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is a fictional town.* And, from the way the characters talk about it, it seems like it would be something like the small town where I went to high school. Come to find out that not only is it a real place, it’s not at all like the small town where I went to high school.

First off, there are three university campuses in Lima, including a satellite campus of The Ohio State University, which is not at all the impression one gets from watching Glee. Additionally, Lima is the county seat, the retail centre of the state of Ohio and, more importantly, home to a regional medical centre, an oil refinery, a Ford plant and the only operating tank factory in the US. And, more importantly than that, the town has no shortage of notable alums including a handful of congressmen, a bunch of professional athletes, some lesser known actors and performers and one Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist.

Are you kidding me, Glee? You have been lying to me for 13 glorious episodes.

It’s not all fun and games, to be fair. Like a lot of towns along the rust belt,** the city suffered a massive decline with the decline of the steel industry in the 1970s and 80s. While its population in the 50s was upwards of 53,000, its current population is just over 38,000.***

Long story short, Quinn and Finn’s angst over Lima can stop any time now. Lima is not anywhere near as bad as they make it seem.****

As a side note: This is my favourite line from the wiki article on Lima, “Duane W. Roller, who endured Lima for over 20 years, has written ten books on ancient Greece and Rome, and is a three-time Fulbright scholar.”

*Then again, no one in Glee is dealing with vampires/werewolves/demons/hellmouths/general end of the world badness.

**Somewhere I have a paper about the steady decline of mining and steel towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania from my senior year of college in which our Senior Project show was a very strange agit-prop musical called The Cradle Will Rock, which is about the unionization of the steel industry in 1930s America.

***That’s still more than three times the people in the town where I went to high school, a town, I should mention that my friends and I left as quickly as we could once we graduated, most of us going to college hundreds of miles away, a town that has been dying since before my family even moved there in the early 90s and now with the closing of two of the three major industrial sites in the last ten years, is headed for an even bleaker future.

****Information from the Lima Chamber of Commerce can be found here, from the US Census Bureau here.

One thought on “Lesson #32: Lima, Ohio

  1. Rachel says:

    “The Ohio State University,” really? Sigh.

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