It was 7 a.m. on my first Saturday as a Fort Wayne resident when my phone rang. It was my mother calling from Illinois, asking what I had planned for that day. Since sleep was obviously out of the question, I mumbled something about unpacking and finding my way around town. I was a single girl, living in a town where I knew no one, and can honestly say I hadn’t planned much for my first weekend in the city.
My mother, in typical mom fashion, had already looked up Visit Fort Wayne’s calendar and had a list of things I could be doing that day. It was obvious the conversation was going to continue until I committed to something on her list and agreed to report back later in the day. I chose the Downtown Fort Wayne Walking Tour.
I love history and architecture so it seemed like the least painful thing to agree to at 7 a.m. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my time here in Fort Wayne. It was a great experience and one I’m happy to admit my mother was right about. With walking shoes, sunglasses, a bottle of water, the $10 fee, and sunscreen I set out to meet the tour group at the Barr Street Market where we would depart on our 90-minute tour. I learned quickly that volunteers like the one leading our tour are passionate about this city and love giving you the “inside story” of the history of things. It was easy to get swept up in the passion of our guide.
As we departed Barr Street Market, I began to see Downtown Fort Wayne in a way I hadn’t during the interview process. Downtown Fort Wayne is filled with history and interesting history at that. For example, the train elevation running through downtown used to be a canal. Who knew? I certainly would have never guessed that. Or that the beautiful tower bank has an old fashioned soda fountain just off the lobby or that the beautiful concrete art structures on the lawn of historic Allen County Courthouse were actually left overs from the ones at the top of the building found in a basement and used when the city created the park that now sits in front of the courthouse. I use that fact every time I need a little fact that makes me sound clever.
My guide was funny and warm and looked just like the retired history buff you imagine he would. He welcomed me with open arms to this great city and made me want to stay. Whether you’re a visitor or a life long resident, I encourage you to check out the walking tour. You’ll want to stay too!
Additional walking and bus tours are available for a variety of areas in Fort Wayne. Check out Arch’s website at www.archfw.org for more info.
And, if you ever want to try it on your own, check out this self-guided walking tour!
Michelle Merritt moved to Fort Wayne in 2008 and has found it to be one of the most warm and welcoming cities she's ever lived or worked in. She and her husband Jason live and work in downtown Fort Wayne. Together they are blending their big city urban experiences into life in America's biggest small town. Michelle writes and manages The Momish Blog and the Merrfeld Manor Blog. She is also a contributor to Moms Fort Wayne and The Paperblog where she writes about the joys and challenges of step parenting. Michelle also works as a professional career coach and recruiter.