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50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Fort Wayne

Checkout 50 Best things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana when you visit Wayne. Love television, cookies, fried chicken, and baseball are probably things which you don’t know.

Cait White

Contributor

16 articles, 0 comments

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.
Play Professional baseball Things To Do In Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user Joel Dinda

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.
Watch TinCaps of the Midwest League Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Visit Fort Wayne via Facebook

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.
Mustachioed Lotharios Beware - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user DieselDemon

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.
Checkout Bar Rules Things to do inFort  Wayne Indiana

Source: Deer Park Irish Pub via Facebook

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.
Watch Derby Girls in Derby League - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Fort Wayne Derby Girls via Facebook

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.
Park And Boulevard System - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user guilherme jofili

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.
Try Cookies, Cake and Other Baked Good Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user David Wiley

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.
Talking Behind a Person's Back is Illegal in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user Tyrone Adams

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.
Know KFC Stories - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user Volker Neumann

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.
Fort Wayne Indiana is a center for the U.S. defense industry

Source: Flickr user Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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.
Three Rivers Festival - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Visit Fort Wayne via Facebook

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.”
History Behing Name Fort Wayne - Things to Know

Source: Flickr user dbking

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.
Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation Founder of Games Of Thornes is located in Fort Wayne

Source: Flickr user Brett Hammond

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.

Lakeside Rose Garden Largest Rose Garden in Country in Fort Wayne Indiana

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

Source: Flickr user Tracie Hall

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.
Hear Philharmonic Orchestra things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Fort Wayne Philharmonic via Facebook

35. The local Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory encompasses more than 100,000 square feet of pure gorgeousness, and it’s changed up seasonally.
Checkout Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory via Facebook

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.
50 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Fort Wayne

Source: Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo via Facebook

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.
Watch NBA Development League Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Fort Wayne Mad Ants via Facebook

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.
Headwaters Park - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user Jeff M for Short

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.
Puppet Show - Things to do in Fort Wayne Indiana

Source: Flickr user Dan Terzian

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.
50 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Fort Wayne

Source: Flickr user cliff1066

What’s your favorite Fort Wayne fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!

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posted on: July 23, 2014
61,125 views, 16 comments

16 Comments

  1. Brad H

    I’m guessing that #32 was just not written well and means that 14.5% of the population of the U.S. is within 250 miles of Fort Wayne?

  2. andy

    You forgot about Harry S. Baals, the longest serving mayor in Fort Wayne’s history. Citizens square downtown was supposed to be named Harry Baals Square when the naming was put up to the citizens to suggest and vote on the new name and it won the citizen’s vote, but in the end the council did not want it to be named Harry Baals square. I think it would have been great, it would of attracted so many tourists and photo ops.

  3. Matt

    “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.”

    Actually, no. The bank was originally named the German American National Bank, and located across Berry Street, but the Tower was built considerably after the name change. The groundbreaking was in 1929 and the building was finished in 1930 as the Lincoln Tower.

  4. Suzanna Ohlwine

    How about Wowo radio. The big 50,000 megawatt radio station that helped put Fort Wayne on the map. A signal that often went round the world. Went every direction with its powerful signal. The world famous fire escape and penny pitch. I remember my first grade teacher in Sweetser, Indiana taking up money to send to Penny pitch. How about Bob Seivers? How about Nancy Lee and the Hill Toppers. Sam Devincent, Chris Roberts? This great station should have been on the list. People other places always knew where Fort Wayne was because of Wowo. We went on a cruise once and wore Wowo shirts. So many people commented they had heard Wowo. Let’s not forget this great station!

  5. Terrie

    I enjoyed reading these. I think outdated laws are so funny. Fort Wayne is the home of several great colleges. We probably hold no records in that area, but I think it’s worth mentioning! Concordia Theological Seminary is one of two Lutheran Seminaries in the U.S. The other is in St. Louis.

  6. Cindy

    I knew more of these than expected thanks to my trivia sharing husband. Also, my grandma was a Borkenstein, so I have ties to the breathalizer. O, the irony!

  7. Angry Guy

    I paid for 50 items… not 49…. I’m outraged…

  8. Shan Bohan

    It’s really difficult to choose a starting point for critique of this error-filled and generally sloppy article. Between inaccurate claims, important omissions, droll and pointless inclusions, spelling and grammatical errors.

    Research, reporting and publishing has become pathetically careless, sloppy and unprofessional.

    I’ll choose one error to highlight. The inventor of the gasoline pump was not “Syvanus Freelove Bower.” The gasoline pump was known as the “Bowser” — and the inventor’s name is “SyLvanus Freelove BowSer.”

  9. Shan Bohan

    It’s really difficult to choose a starting point for critique of this error-filled and generally sloppy article. Between inaccurate claims, important omissions, droll and pointless inclusions, spelling and grammatical errors … the article is a waste of its cyberspace.

    Research, reporting and publishing has become pathetically careless, sloppy and unprofessional.

    I’ll choose one error to highlight. The inventor of the gasoline pump was not “Syvanus Freelove Bower.” The gasoline pump was known as the “Bowser” — and the inventor’s name is “SyLvanus Freelove BowSer.”

  10. sarah

    No one mentioned the hands held calculator, the in sick garbage disposal, Ken Ketchikan (from Dallas), Frank Burns from MASH was from here and we had a doctor in town named Frank Burn.

  11. nancy

    the name is Bowser not Bower

  12. Everbloom

    I love Fort Wayne. You’ve made great strides…BUT I see nothing listed for Senior Centers around town that offer all sorts of crafts, classes, fine arts, dancing, exercise, computer classes, etc. My friend in Spokan has several to choose from. Tulsa area has at least five or six. What do folks over 60 DO there?

  13. Carole Chamberlin-Meredith

    #17 on your list. Col. Sanders came to Phil Clauss, the Pres. of the Hobby House Rest., carrying bags of his “special herb-mix” flour in the back of his car & asked him if he’d be interested in having a Franchise. Dave Thomas came to work for the Hobby House later on, at the age of 16. The “mug” of the Colonel was created & drawn by James J. Chamberlin of Chamberlin-Junk Advertising on Coldwater Rd. at that time. Dave Thomas opened a KFC franchise with the Hobby House in his early 20’s in Ohio, in the early 60’s. Eventually, he decided to go on his own, left the Hobby House & KFC & opened the first Wendy’s in Ohio!

  14. Roberto

    The article is titled “50 things …” I only saw 49.

  15. Stuart Spriggs

    Hi
    Can anyone tell me if the Royal Lace corporation is still there in Fort Wayne please?
    My Dad worked there from the UK in the 1960’s and im tryng to find out a little more?
    Many thanks
    Stuart

  16. Jeff Sittloh

    The character “Faun Liebowitz” (sp?) in “Animal House” was from Fort Wayne. The Allen County Public Library has one of the largest genealogical collections in the US. Bill Blass is a graduate of Fort Wayne’s South Side HS, along with Mr. Borkenstein, Julia Barr(All My Children) and Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

 

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