Stimulated by the economic boom in nearby Findlay, in 1885 Lima businessman Benjamin C. Economic development brought money for arts and entertainment. Gramm and his close friend Max Bernstein formed the Gramm-Bernstein Company, which became a pioneer in the motor truck industry.
Benjamin Faurot's Opera House opened in 1882, a nationally renowned structure so impressive that New Yorkers used it as a model for their own theaters. During World War I, Gramm created the "Liberty truck", which was welcomed upon its arrival in Washington, D. Thousands were sent to Europe to help the Allied war effort.
In 1831 the Shawnee were forced to surrender all their land in the area to the United States and relocated to Kansas, opening all of Allen County to settlement.
The Ohio legislature mandated that a county seat be established and "Lima" was the result. In 1854, the first train appeared in Lima, a harbinger of later economic success.
The darker side of the progressive era revealed itself in the prominence of the Ku Klux Klan in the city.
It was a center for the Black Legion, a notoriously violent subset of the Klan.
In 1921, Lima voters approved a change in the structure of Lima city government.