November 2007 Issue
Ohio's Best Hometowns 2008 - Bowling Green
Residents of this university town enjoy a full complement of recreational, cultural and educated opportunities.
Student legend has it that if you stand on the Bowling Green State University seal on campus at midnight and kiss your sweetheart, you will soon be married.
Superstition? Maybe so, but the town of Bowling Green has more than a few couples who met at the university, married after graduating and settled in this northwestern Ohio town to raise their families.
The decision was simple for Wendy Stram. “One of the reasons my husband and I settled in Bowling Green after having gone to the university here, is the fact that there’s so much for kids to do,” says Stram, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “There’s so much to do between the university, the parks, the [recreation centers] and our school systems that it’s almost overwhelming.”
Downtown Bowling Green bustles with activity, attracting people of all ages. Enhancing the street scene are cafes, restaurants and shops, such as Pisanello’s pizza emporium, Grounds for Thought coffee shop and the Cookie Jar bakery, where the aroma of fresh-baked confections lures those with a sweet tooth. Residents can also enjoy a full range of activities at the Wood County Library located in the heart of downtown. Whether it’s a meet-and-greet with an author, a book discussion group or live piano music in the library’s atrium, there’s something new to experience every day.
In Bowling Green, “Houses don’t turn over a lot because people don’t move — they like it here,” says Stram. Residents have recreation opportunities at nearby parks such as the Wintergarden/St. Johns Nature Preserve and the 24-mile Slippery Elm Bicycle Trail, and at the newly constructed community center, a 79,000-square-foot facility that offers a fitness center, indoor track, basketball courts and after-school programs. Spectator sports are plentiful in this university town that provides students and residents alike a full complement of intercollegiate athletic events. There are also community celebrations such as the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival, a weekend focusing on culture, music and food, and the National Tractor Pull, where the city’s agricultural roots are honored each year at the Wood County Fairgrounds.
While Bowling Green preserves and promotes its heritage at the Wood County Historical Society Center, it also looks to the future, particularly in its adoption of environmental initiatives. Known to some as “Blowing Green,” the city obtains 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources, including Ohio’s first utility-sized wind farm, The Green Wind Farm Project, consisting of four wind turbines that generate enough energy to supply the electricity for 3,000 residents.
Education is a major theme and focus in Bowling Green. It was the university that brought Mayor John Quinn to town 42 years ago. He earned both his bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in history from BGSU and served as a classroom teacher at Bowling Green High School for 30 years.
“We’ve said it ever since the founding of the university: Education is what the community is about. And that’s reflected in all of our schools, from the primary schools all the way up through the university,” Quinn says.
Founded: 1833, became a city in 1901
Location: In Wood County, 25 miles south of Toledo
Size: 10 square miles
Type of Government: Mayor/seven-member city council