Historic Fort Wayne, Detroit
Fort Wayne Detroit is a great place to visit. Fort Wayne (not to be confused with Fort Wayne Indiana) was built beginning in 1841and was decommissioned beginning in 1948. The Fort belongs to the City of Detroit now which has had some trouble dealing with the financial strain of maintaining the property. The oldest section of the fort, which is a star shaped brick wall and earthen fortification, is in fairly good shape. A barracks in the center of the fortification, also built in the 1840s, is also being maintained. Outside of the original fort, there are a number of more recently constructed buildings that are succumbing to ruin. It's a nice place to walk around. The city charges a small parking fee and you will be warned to not approach the buildings, but once inside the fort's grounds one is free to wander around a pretty large area and when I was there I had it mostly to myself. Mostly, except for the hundreds of people who had come for the dozens of soccer matches being played in the fields behind the fort.
Fort Wayne is in a desolate section of the city. The area along West Jefferson from Downtown to River Rouge is mostly post-industrial and mostly depopulated. It has become tranquil and dilapidated with sections of reforestation. So it seems odd to run into hundreds of yuppie soccer enthusiasts in that part of town. But other parts of Fort Wayne fit in quite well. And the soccer players steered clear of the historic sections of the fort. A number of buildings were constructed outside of the original star fort. Most of these were built in the late 1880s to serve housing or administrative functions. Many of these buildings have reached an advanced state of decay. These are the buildings you are warned to stay away from.
The houses below were originally built of wood in the 1880s. They were then re-clad with brick as a part of a WPA project in 1937. Other badly deteriorated houses and buildings on the fort grounds were built at various times from the 1890s to the 1920s. Fort Wayne is out of the way and not on many tourist's destination lists. I'd visited Detroit dozens of times and never thought to go. But I'm so glad I finally did. It is safe, interesting, hassle free, and it's in a really interesting part of town. The blast furnaces of Zug Island are visible from the fortification and the River Rouge complex is just down the street.
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