Fort Wayne, Indiana
These pictures were taken on walks around town in the late 80s. Some of what I photographed including the old brewery building and the Fruehauf plant were demolished a long time ago.
Fort Wayne is an interesting city. It has survived several waves of the comings and goings of trends in transportation and industry. Through all of its reinventions it has only had one decade of declining population; from 1970 to 1980 and that was only 3.4%. Other similar cities like Toledo, South Bend and Dayton have done much worse. Fort Wayne started growing in the 1840s and 1850s as an industrial center on the Wabash and Erie Canal. When transportation shifted from canals to railroads, Fort Wayne became a railroad center. Throughout the late 1800s and 1900s Fort Wayne hosted a wide variety of manufacturing plants. The manufacture of farm machinery, trucks and electrical appliances became very important to the city's economy in the second half of the 20th century. Plant closures in these industries hit Fort Wayne especially hard in the late 70s and early 80s. Fort Wayne has always been ruthlessly quick to tear down empty buildings. As a result of this, very few historic buildings are left in downtown. During the late 80s and early 90s large sections of the central area were little more than empty parking lots and scattered modernist public buildings. Lately downtown has been coming back to life and new structures are filling in some of the empty spaces. Fort Wayne avoided most of the worst excesses of urban renewal in the mid 1900s which may have helped it survive the 1980s. It has also always had and still has a very diverse economy.