What is The City Worth While?

In 1913 the Slogan Committee of the St. Joseph Commerce Club decided to hold a contest via the St. Joseph Gazette. Whoever came up with the best slogan to represent the city would win $50 in gold or receive a medal worth $50. The plan from the beginning was to emblazon the slogan in modern electric lights, high above the city. As such, many submissions came to the Gazette as illustrations of lighted signs. From the myriad of slogans put up for consideration, two were presented to the Commerce Club. The choices were between “St. Joseph – Money, Markets, Men” and “St. Joseph, the City Worth While.” When put to a vote the latter slogan passed, receiving 287 ballots, the former receiving just 44, and 22 members disliking both options.

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Once the slogan was decided on, the city set to work publicizing it. In January of 1914, a contract was awarded to the St. Joseph Railway, Light, Heat, and Power Company to construct a sign. It would be the jewel of the city, to sit atop its tallest building, the 12-story Corby-Forsee Building. On April 17, 1914, the “Mammoth” sign containing 3,800 shining electric lights, illuminated for the first time for the entire city to see.

Age took its toll on the sign, yet throughout the generations, the slogan endured. While it would not be the only slogan chosen to represent the defining character of St. Joseph throughout the years, it is one that has stuck with the city throughout time; a fond reminiscence of our past as it looked to the future. This is what you will find in our project “The City Worth While.” We have created a space where the pieces of St. Joseph’s past can come together to form the picture of the city’s history.