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Fort Wayne, the Summit City, is the second largest city in Indiana and the largest in Northeast Indiana. The city also serves as the county seat for Allen County and hub for a multi-county metropolitan area that includes Noble, DeKalb, Whitley, Huntington, Wells and Adams Counties. The city is served by one major interstate route, one interstate beltway, and several U.S. and state highways that crisscross the city (or did at least).
A view of the Fort Wayne skyline from Parkview Field. Photo by Thomas Decker on September 19, 2009.
As the name would imply, the community was founded in 1794 as a fort on the frontier to serve the expanding United States into the Miami Indian nation. The fort was named for General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who was instrumental in helping with that westward expansion by winning victories against the local Indian tribes. The fort was founded at the confluence of the Maumee, St. Mary’s and St. Joseph Rivers (the Three Rivers) and ever since the community has been at the confluence of transportation. The city was eventually a part of the Wabash and Erie Canal, built to connect the Ohio River with Lake Erie. Fort Wayne itself was at the high point on the canal, at the divide separating the Ohio River and Maumee River basins, giving Fort Wayne the nickname of the Summit City.
Fort Wayne was incorporated as a city in 1840 and has seen steady growth ever since. As with many cities, the railroads converged in Fort Wayne, bringing a growing stream of immigrants into the city. In the 20th Century, highways began to converge on the city as well and the growth of the manufacturing sector added more people in jobs to the city. Eventually, many of those jobs would decline, but the fact that Fort Wayne was the hub city for business, finance, healthcare and services for the region kept it from declining too much and today the Downtown has seen redevelopment while the suburbs of the city have continued to expand. With a series of annexations in the 2000s, the city grew from around 220,000 to a 2010 population of 253,691. By 2020, the population swelled by over 10,000 to 263,886.