The Answers

What, Why, How and Who in Fort Wayne?

Downtown traffic. Photography by Ray Steup

Downtown traffic. Photography by Ray Steup

There are serious questions. There are silly questions. There are questions you ask to help a conversation along. There are questions you ask just to make trouble. There are questions you didn’t even realize you had until you hear the answer.

Here are some serious, silly, conversation-helping, glad-to-know-answers-to questions designed to expand our understanding of what makes Fort Wayne the city it is. Armed with these answers, anyone can speak knowledgeably and possibly even dazzle members of his or her social circle. Or maybe you’ll just have fun learning a thing or two. Either way, it’s good!

How do I start a business in Fort Wayne?

Short answer: With welcoming arms and plenty of support. For your step-by-step guide, go online to cityoffortwayne.org and click on the Business tab, where you will find useful resources to help you start a business here. The local Indiana Small Business Development Center has a particularly good record of helping small businesses get off to a good start, so be sure to include them in your planning and prep.

What’s that hill in Reservoir Park?

It’s a leftover, and it used to be even higher before the wooden water tank on top of it was dismantled in 1959. The hill supported the 4.8-million-gallon tank built in 1880 that provided the pressure that pushed the water into the homes of City Utilities customers until newer, higher water towers were built elsewhere.

How much do we donate to good causes?

Lots, it turns out. Fort Wayne is a pretty generous place in terms of both time and treasure donated. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Allen County’s charitable giving in 2012 (the most recent data available) puts us in the second tier from the top of generosity with total contributions of $185,468,000 in donations reported on our income tax returns, for a median giving level of $3,877. As Hoosiers, we are reasonably generous with our time, too, ranking 23rd among the states with 1.37 million of us volunteering 131.1 million hours of service worth $2.9 billion, according to volunteeringinamerica.gov. That’s 30.8 hours per capita.

Which is the biggest Meet Up group in Fort Wayne?

It’s the Over 21 and OFF (Out For Fun) in Fort Wayne, with 892 members as of March, plus an interesting schedule of events ranging from a book club and a walk in the park (after a fun Valentine’s Day outing in February) and more than 600 events overall. Founded in 2009, this group is active outdoors when weather permits and often meets at Wunderkammer Gallery. Learn more at www.meetup.com.

What is the most dangerous intersection in Fort Wayne?

Define danger how you must, but according to Indiana State Police traffic accident data analyzed by the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council’s Jerry Foust, senior transportation planner, the downtown intersection of Clay and Wayne Streets has the highest rate of crashes at 4.3 per 1 million vehicles entering it over the years 2011 through 2013. The far busier intersection of Coliseum Boulevard and Coldwater Road has the most crashes in a year with 58 in 2013, which is nevertheless a rate of only 2.6 per million vehicles. Pay attention wherever you drive. Don’t become a statistic.

What’s the average commute?

According to what we all reported to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a Fort Wayne resident’s average travel time to work is 19.7 minutes.

How many languages are spoken in Fort Wayne Community Schools?

Among the district’s 30,980 students, 75 different languages are spoken.

What’s haunted around here?

You will get some push-back, but it is pretty well accepted that the late Emboyd Theatre (now known as the Embassy) stage manager Bud Berger lovingly haunts the place. Alert readers debunked the story of the Lady in White who does not haunt the Main Street Bridge after Fort Wayne Magazine published it in 2008. Quoting an 1883 story in the Fort Wayne Daily News, the Lady in White was pinned on the son of city founder Sam Hanna, who used a very powerful magic lantern to project an image into the fog and terrify passersby. Henry’s Restaurant is said to be haunted by its founder, and there’s always Devil’s Hollow – either one of them. For more information, consult the local chapter of Indiana Ghost Trackers or attend an ARCH spooky tour next Halloween.

How long would it take to walk from one end of our trail system to the furthest point at the other end?

Longer than you might think, if you take it easy and walk at the human-preferred 3.1 miles an hour. Powerwalkers wouldn’t miss lunch, of course, and cyclists could carry lunch and have a picnic at any one of a number of great stopping points along the way. It would take about eight and a half hours to walk the 26 and a half miles from the westernmost point of the trail system on Amber Road to the easternmost point in New Haven’s Moser Park. In descending order of time to walk them, the other trail stretches are west-to-north, east-to-south, west-to-south and east-to-north, in case you were wondering.

Why is it called the Summit City?

This nickname dates from the Canal Era, when Fort Wayne was identified as the highest point on the Wabash-Erie Canal. We’re a mini-continental divide between a watershed going to Lake Erie and the Atlantic and a watershed going to the Wabash River and the Gulf of Mexico.

How old is the Sunbeam Bread sign and how many slices fall out of that wrapper every day?

The Sunbeam Bread sign atop Aunt Millie’s Bakeries on Pearl Street downtown was 50 years old in 2007, by which time the company calculated it had stacked 685,565,217 slices of bread. It does so at a rate of 1 slice every 2.3 seconds, or 10 slices every 23 seconds or about 104.35 slices every 4 minutes.

Where in Fort Wayne can you see 1 million people?

(Warning: Sort of a trick question) Standing outside the entrance to Allen County Memorial Coliseum – for a year. Coliseum management has announced 2014 was the 24th consecutive year with at least 1 million visitors, despite the truly awful weather in the first quarter of that year. No wonder it is able to support itself 100 percent with earned revenues from its operations.

How much farming goes on around here?

Indiana’s second-largest city is surrounded by its largest county, where a lot of farming goes on. As of the 2012 federal Census of Agriculture (the most recent available), Allen County is in the state’s Top 10 for 14 crop and livestock categories ranging from wheat and soybeans to horses and ponies.

Do we like our public television or public radio better?

Impossible to say, but it is obvious that we love both of them a lot. According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s website, universities operate most of the more than 1,041 local public radio stations and most of the nation’s more than 365 local public television stations are operated by either state government agencies or non-profit community organizations. In Fort Wayne, nonprofit community organizations operate both of our public broadcast media outlets, and both are, as the saying goes, alive and well. We keep them that way.

Do young people like living in Fort Wayne or not?

Looking back, the answer was, sadly, not so much. Looking forward, the answer looks like it is, increasingly, yes! We can even cite the authority of an online ranking by MindBodyGreen, done by the intern, who was the youngest staffer and therefore most qualified to set the criteria for the 35 Best Places to Live in the U.S. If You’re Under 35. Fort Wayne ranked 34th, out of the nation’s 100 most populous cities. Criteria included salary and unemployment rates, cost of rent and utilities, availability of public transportation, weather, crime, price of dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and cost of an ounce of high-quality weed (the intern, remember?). We can also cite Fort Wayne’s ongoing efforts to welcome younger people into the power structure with Leadership Fort Wayne and Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana and the recognition that the factors identified by the Knight Foundation Soul of the Community research are what determines a city’s desirability: Social offerings, being open and welcoming and having great aesthetics. We’ve made progress, and it’s paying off.

Is it true that being in the bend of the river protects us from tornadoes here?

That might not be the right question. On the one hand, Fort Wayne has never been annihilated by a tornado. On the other hand, tornadoes have struck here, and 2013 research from the American Meteorological Society offers some cautionary information. Researchers Olivia Kellner and Dev Niyogi reviewed weather data from 1959 through 2012 and found that tornado touchdowns are associated with changes in the land surface, like from open farmland to built-up city. Be alert during storm season. The research continues.

Why was Gen. Anthony Wayne so mad?

First a clarification: Gen. Wayne was not angry-mad. He was fierce-in-battle mad, which made his soldiers admire him and his British and Native American foes take him very seriously. Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi, who writes Fort Wayne Magazine’s Along the Heritage Trail column, reports that Wayne earned the nickname for his reckless daring in a spectacular attack on the British at Stoney Point, N.Y., during the Revolutionary War.

Where is the best place to catch a foul ball at Parkview Field?

Marketing manager Mike Limmer says it depends. If you want the best chance of catching any ball that is hit into your area, go where the density of people is lower. Seek seats in the far right field Picnic Pavilion or the far left field Toyota Field Boxes. The Picnic Pavilion is for group outings, though, and the field boxes are all sold to season ticket holders. Plan B, then, is to go where most of the foul balls go anyway and compete with the density of fans in Sections 101, 102 and part of Section 103 along the right field line or Sections 112, 113 and part of 114 along the left field line. Limmer explains you’ll want to avoid the protective net behind home plate. Who has the best chance of going home with a game ball? “A cute kid sitting in front of one of those sections – who is polite,” Limmer said. Even if said kid is unable to catch a foul ball, a polite “please, may I have a game ball?” request to a player or coach will probably be rewarded, and everyone will go home happy if the gift is returned with a “Thank you!”

Why do so many streets change names?

Sigh. Not to drive us nuts, no matter how effectively that works. Fort Wayne is an old town, and modern streets weave together old roads that once were separate but keep their old names for whatever reasons were thought wise when the names were left that way back when the roads were connected by modernizing road engineers. Sorry about that. We’ve all gone through the confusion, and sooner or later we each get to feel superior to the newbies who are just learning.


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