1. Fort Wayne played host to the first professional baseball game ever played on May 4, 1871. The game was a fierce battle between the Cleveland Forest Citys and Fort Wayne’s own Kekiongas. It was rained out in the top of the ninth inning, but by then, the home team was up 2-0.
2. Today, Fort Wayne hosts the farm team of the San Diego Padres, the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League. Recognize the name? It’s an allusion to American legend Johnny Appleseed.
3. Speaking of Johnny Appleseed, his real name was John Chapman and his final resting place is in Fort Wayne.
4. Mustachioed lotharios beware: It’s illegal in Fort Wayne to sport a mustache—but only if the man has a tendency to kiss other humans.
5. You can thank Fred W. Wolf for your cold drinks and leftovers. The Fort Wayne native invented the first domestic refrigerator in 1913 by mounting a unit on top of an ice box.
6. Grab a seat, guys In Fort Wayne, men are prohibited from standing in a bar.
7. The Fort Wayne bar rules get even weirder: It’s illegal to carry a cocktail from the bar to a table, to offer drinks on the house, and to drink from your own beer bottle without first pouring it into a separate glass.
8. These Fort Wayne locals certainly have the smarts. Native Dr. Alice Hamilton made history by being the first woman on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.
9. But Fort Wayne women are also known to be tough, along with their smarts. The city is home to the Fort Wayne Derby Girls, the first flat-track roller derby league in the state. It was founded by Daniella “Little D Evil” Abbott and Tonya “Minx” Vojtkofsky in 2005.
10. Basketball is in the blood of Fort Wayne, as it’s the birthplace of the NBA. According to the story, Carl Bennet mediated the merger of the existing basketball leagues, the BAA and the NBL, to create the NBA right in the comfort of his own Fort Wayne home.
11. Inventor and Fort Wayne native Syvanus Freelove Bower doesn’t just have the best middle name ever, he’s also credited as designing the world’s first… wait for it… practical gasoline pump. Not what you thought I was going to say there, was it?
12. The Fort Wayne Park and Boulevard System covers 1,883 acres and is composed of 11 public parks—that’s a lot of public play space. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
13. Beware to all Fort Wayne natives who love dressing up like cars and taking to the highway: Pedestrians crossing a highway at night wearing tail lights will be arrested.
14. Love cookies, cake, and other baked goods? Thank Royal Baking Powder, which originated with Joseph and Cornelius Hoagland in Fort Wayne, and eventually became the largest manufacturer of baking powder in the United States.
15. Sitcom queens Shelley Long (Diane from “Cheers”) and Jenna Fischer (Pam from “The Office”) both hail from Fort Wayne.
16. No wonder the locals are so nice; “spiteful gossip” and “talking behind a person’s back” are both illegal in Fort Wayne.
17. Fried chicken fans already know they can thank Colonel Harland Sanders, but don’t forget about Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. Sanders came to Fort Wayne looking for KFC franchises, and Thomas worked with him there to introduce the chain’s signature chicken bucket in order to keep the meat crispy.
18. Local radio stations must hold a grudge against Johnny Standly. It’s illegal to broadcast his record “It’s in the Book.” And if you want to buy the record within city limits? You’re out of luck, too.
19. Fort Wayne is a center for the U.S. defense industry, employing thousands of residents. The 122nd Fighter Wing, a unit of the Indiana Air National Guard, maintains a base in the city.
20. Unofficially, Fort Wayne has been dubbed the City of Churches, since the late 19th century when it was a hub for Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches. Today, there are approximately 360 churches within city limits.
21. More than 400,000 people flock to Fort Wayne for nine days in mid-July for the amazing Three Rivers Festival to celebrate the town by participating in hot dog eating contests, a raft race, and arts fair, a parade, and to watch the stunning fireworks.
22. When you think of Fort Wayne, you may not think Takaoka, Toyama Japan; Plock, Masovian, Poland; Gera, Thuringia, Germany; or Taizhou, Zhejiang, China, but these four cities are officially Fort Wayne’s Sister Cities, as dubbed by Sister Cities International.
23. Officially in Fort Wayne, it’s illegal for waitresses to carry drinks into a restaurant or bar.
24. Fort Wayne was founded as a trading post, where European pioneers could trade with locals from the three rivers that fed into the fort.
25. The city’s nickname “The Summit City” came from its position at the highest elevation along the Wabash and Eire Canal.
26. Fort Wayne is named after its founder and American Army officer General Anthony Wayne, who had the unfortunate nickname, “Mad Anthony.”
27. Western acting legend John Wayne was originally given the stage name of “Anthony Wayne” after the general, but Fox Studios changed it to “John.”
28. Police owe a lot to Fort Wayne native Robert Frank Borkenstein, who invented the first Breathalyzer.
29. You can thank Fort Wayne-founded company Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation for your “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones” binge watching. The company was a crucial pioneer of modern televisions.
30. Thank goodness for showers. In Fort Wayne, it’s illegal to take a bath between the months of October and March.
31. Art deco high rise building the Lincoln Bank Tower was originally called the the German American National Bank, but in 1918, anti-Germanism was running rampant and the name was changed.
32. Stop and smell the roses at the Lakeside Rose Garden, one of the largest in the whole country with more than 2,000 roses on display
33. With estimates nearing 6,000, Fort Wayne is cited as having the highest Burmese-American population in all of the United States.
34. Home to many world-renowned conductors, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, or the Phil, has been going strong—with an attendance of nearly 220,000 music lovers—and winning awards since its founding in 1944.
35. The local Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory encompasses more than 100,000 square feet of pure gorgeousness, and it’s changed up seasonally.
36. The nationally famous Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is constantly on lists of best zoos in the country. It’s famous for having the last remaining Tasmanian devil to live outside of Australia, named Coolah, who sadly passed away in 2004 from cancer.
37. The first Indiana state fair after its hiatus for the Civil War was held in Fort Wayne in 1865.
38. Iconic horror writer Stephen King spent much of his childhood in Fort Wayne.
39. There are 86 public parks spanning across Fort Wayne.
40. It’s not just pro hoops that finds its home in Fort Wayne. The city also hosts the Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, and they’re good. The Mad Ants took home the league championship this year.
41. Before he was replaced, Dick York played Darrin Stephens in the classic TV show “Bewitched” and he also called Fort Wayne home.
42. Fort Wayne hosts a whopping 15 museums and art galleries, meaning that natives are some seriously cultured folk.
43. Young people welcome! Fort Wayne is a young city, with a median age of 34.6 years old, less than both the state and national average.
44. Fort Wayne has a rich German heritage and plays host to the annual June Germanfest, complete with German music, food, and beer.
45. Even Detroit Pistons superfans may not know that the team began its life in Fort Wayne as the Zollner Pistons in the 1940s and 1950s before moving to Michigan.
46. In what is now known as Headwaters Park, the nation’s first nighttime baseball game was played in 1883 under the lights.
47. Fort Wayne is home to not one but two National Historic Landmarks: the Akima Pinšiwa Awiiki, or Chief Jean-Baptiste de Richardville House, and the Allen County Courthouse.
48. Have you ever considered puppet shows immoral? Well old Fort Wayne law says that any person who has a puppet, wire dancing, or tumbling show and receives cash will be fined three whole dollars by the Act to Prevent Certain Immoral Practices.
49. Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre is a national icon, listed on the National Register of Historic places for hosting to a laundry list of American legends, such as Perry Como, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, and Duke Ellington. As if that wasn’t enough, here Bob Hope had his very first emcee job.
What’s your favorite Fort Wayne fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!