Fort Wayne is a city in the U.S. state of Indiana and the county seat of Allen County. The population was 255,824 as of the July 1, 2011 Census estimate making it the 74th largest city in the United States and the second largest in Indiana after Indianapolis. The municipality is located in northeastern Indiana, approximately west of the Ohio border and south of the Michigan border. Fort Wayne is the principal city of the Fort Wayne metropolitan area, consisting of Allen, Wells, and Whitley counties, for an estimated population of 419,453. In addition to those three core counties, the combined statistical area includes Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, and Noble counties, for a population of about 615,077.
Under the direction of American Revolutionary War statesman General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, the United States Army built Fort Wayne last in a series of forts near the Miami Indian village of Kekionga in 1794. Named in Wayne's honor, Fort Wayne established itself at the confluence of the St. Joseph River, St. Marys River, and Maumee River as a trading post for European settlers. The village was platted in 1823 and experienced tremendous growth after completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal and advent of the railroad. Once a booming industrial town located in the Rust Belt, Fort Wayne's economy has diversified in recent times, now relying on distribution, transportation, and logistics, health care, manufacturing, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and financial services. The city is also a center for the defense contractor industry which employs thousands in the city.
As Northeast Indiana's cultural hub, Fort Wayne is home to 15 museums and art galleries, two daily newspapers, philharmonic orchestra, children's zoo, four minor league sports franchises and an NCAA Division I team, and 86 parks and playgrounds. The city is home to the fifth largest public university in Indiana, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and the private universities of Concordia Theological Seminary, Indiana Institute of Technology, and University of Saint Francis. The city is also widely recognized as the final resting place of American folklore legend Johnny Appleseed.
The city has been an All-America City Award recipient in 1982, 1998, and 2009.
The Miami nation first established a settlement at the Maumee, St. Joseph, and St. Marys Rivers in the mid-17th century called Kekionga. The village was the traditional capital of the Miami nation and related Algonquian tribes. Historians believe that around 1676, French priests and missionaries visited the Miami on their way back from a mission at Lake Michigan. In 1680, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, sent a letter to the Governor of New France, Louis de Buade de Frontenac stating he had also stopped there. In the 1680s, French traders established a post at the location because it was the crucial portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The Maumee River is approximately ten miles (16 kilometers) away from the Little River branch of the Wabash River, which flows, in turn, into the Ohio River.
In 1696, Comte de Frontenac appointed Jean Baptiste Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes, as commander of the French outpost in Miami country. The French built the first fort on the site, Fort Miamis, in 1697 as part of a group of forts built between Quebec, Canada, and St. Louis. In 1721, a few years after Bissot's death, Fort Miamis was replaced by Fort St. Philippe des Miamis. The first census, performed in 1744 on the order by the governor of Louisiana, revealed a population of approximately forty Frenchmen and one thousand Miami. Increasing tension between France and the United Kingdom developed over the territory. In 1760, after defeat by British forces in the French and Indian War, the area was ceded to the British Empire. The fort was again renamed, this time to Fort Miami. In 1763, various Native American nations rebelled against British rule and retook the fort as part of Pontiac's Rebellion. The Miami regained control of Kekionga, a rule that lasted for more than 30 years.
In 1790, President George Washington ordered the United States Army to secure Indiana. Three battles were fought in Kekionga against Little Turtle and the Miami Confederacy. Miami warriors annihilated the United States Army in the first two battles. Anthony Wayne led a third expedition, destroying the village while its warriors were away. When the tribe returned to their destroyed village, Little Turtle decided to negotiate peace. After General Wayne refused it, the tribe was advanced to Fallen Timbers where they were defeated on August 20, 1794. On October 22, 1794, the United States army captured the Wabash-Erie portage from the Miami Confederacy and built a new fort at the three rivers, Fort Wayne, in honor of General Wayne.
In 1819, three years after Indiana's statehood, the military garrison was discontinued and a federal land office opened to sell land ceded by local Native Americans by the Treaty of St. Mary's. Platted in 1823, the village quickly became a frontier outpost, and was incorporated as the Town of Fort Wayne in 1829 with a population of 300. The arrival of the Wabash and Erie Canal eased passages to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, opening Fort Wayne to unprecedented economic opportunities. The population topped 2,000 when the town was incorporated as the City of Fort Wayne on February 22, 1840. Fort Wayne's nickname, The Summit City, came from the its position at the highest point, or summit, along the canal's route. As influential as the Wabash and Erie Canal was to the city's earliest development, it quickly became obsolete after briefly competing with the city's first railroad, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway, completed in 1854.
At the turn of the 20th century, the city's population had reached nearly 50,000, attributed mostly to the massive flow of German and Irish immigrants arriving into the city. Fort Wayne's "urban working class" boomed in industrial and railroad-related jobs. Fort Wayne's economy was based substantially on manufacturing which ushered in an era of innovation with several notable inventions coming out of the city over the years. Baking powder, gasoline pumps, the country's first municipal lighting system, first high fidelity phonograph, refrigerator, garbage disposal, transistor radio, jukebox, calculator, and in 1972, the first home video game console, were developed in Fort Wayne.
With the growing prevalence of the automobile, Fort Wayne became a fixture on the Lincoln Highway, the country's first coast-to-coast highway. Aviation arrived in 1919 with the opening of the city's first airport, Smith Field. The airport served as Fort Wayne's primary commercial airfield until Fort Wayne International Airport was handed over to the city in 1947 after use as a military base during World War II. Fort Wayne was hit by the Great Depression beginning in 1929, with most factories cutting their workforce. The stock market crash however did not discourage plans to build the city's first skyscraper and Indiana's tallest building at the time, the Art Deco Lincoln Bank Tower. By 1935, the New Deal's WPA put over 7,000 residents back to work through various local infrastructure improvements, including the construction of nine new parks, bridges and viaducts, and a $5.2 million sewage treatment facility. In 1940 the city provided 25 parks totaling .
The helped the city prosper once again, but began a slow trend shifting business from downtown to the suburbs. Between 1950 and 1955, more than 5,000 homes were built, many in large subdivisions in rural Allen County. Suburban strip malls followed, with the city's first, Anthony Wayne Village, opening in 1947. In 1950, Fort Wayne's first bypass, Coliseum Boulevard, opened on the north side of the city, bringing new opportunities for suburban expansion. The city's first arena, War Memorial Coliseum, further lured business from downtown when it opened on September 28, 1952, on the bypass, becoming home to the NBA's Fort Wayne Pistons. The opening of Fort Wayne's first enclosed shopping malls, Glenbrook Square (1965) and Southtown Mall (1969), along with the completion of I-69 in rural areas north and west of the city proper, further drove the exodus of retail from downtown through the 1960s. According to 1970s Fort Wayne Home Builders Association estimates, more than 80 percent of new home construction occurred outside the city proper.
The 1990s marked a turnaround for the area, as officials focused on crime reduction, economic diversification, and downtown redevelopment efforts. The addition of 30 police officers, an anti-gang unit, expanded take-home police car program, and neighborhood watch program combated Fort Wayne's crime rate; by 1999, the city's crime rate decreased to levels not seen since 1974. Fort Wayne's economy recovered, with the unemployment rate hovering at 2.4 percent in 1998. Clearing blighted buildings while greening downtown became a priority, with the opening of One Summit Square (1991), the Courthouse Green (1999), and Headwaters Park, built at a cost of $16.9 million between 1995 and 1999, becoming the premier community gathering space and centerpiece in the city's $50 million flood control project. Fort Wayne celebrated its bicentennial in 1994.
Fort Wayne continued its focus on redeveloping downtown in the 2000s. The decade saw the beginnings of a transformation, with the renovations and expansions of the Main Library Branch, Grand Wayne Convention Center, and Fort Wayne Museum of Art. In 2006, the $130 million Harrison Square development was announced, containing a new baseball stadium, parking garage, apartments, retail, and hotel. The baseball stadium, Parkview Field, opened in April 2009 and the hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, opened in September 2010. In 2011, private developers announced plans to convert the long-underused Anthony Wayne Building into about 50 high-end condominiums with street-level shops at a cost of $15 million. Growth in the city's suburban areas continued, with the opening of Fort Wayne's first lifestyle center, Jefferson Pointe, in 2001 and the $536 million Parkview Regional Medical Center in 2012.