From the original platting of Fort Wayne to modern services, local government is an integral part of city life. In the early to mid-1800s as Fort Wayne's population skyrocketed, so too did the citizenry's needs for local government change. These early services laid the groundwork to meet the ever-changing needs of residents throughout the 19th and 20th century.
Allen County was created on April 1, 1824 by an act of the Indiana legislature and Fort Wayne was selected to be the seat of Allen County government. On May 22, the first election of county officers was held and on May 26, the newly-elected board of county commissioners met at the house of Alexander Ewing for a six-day organizational session.
Volunteer firefighting services sprung up in the 1830s in recognition of the need for protection only a community working together can provide against fire. During the 1830s it also became apparent that the city would benefit from a central location for commerce, and the city market was established.
In 1840 the Indiana state legislature approved a charter for Fort Wayne's incorporation as a city, and with the charter came our first formal government and the election of the first mayor of Fort Wayne George W. Wood. Local citizens voted in the first nine mayoral elections using the same secure ballot box from 1840-1856. With new authority to tax for civil improvements, the city's first public utilities project was completed in 1858.
Since 1832, four county courthouses have housed Allen County courts and governmental offices. As county needs grew, so did the courthouses, from a small first structure, located between Calhoun and Court Streets to the beautiful Allen County Courthouse that opened in 1902 and is still in use today.
In 1892 Mayor Charles Zollinger's administration commissioned the construction of a City Building. Dedicated the following year, the City Building at the southeast corner of Berry and Barr Streets would be home to City Council, City Court, the Fort Wayne Police Department, and, eventually, the History Center.
Today, the community continues to thrive through its leadership. The services provided contribute to the high quality of life residents enjoy, making it very clear why Fort Wayne is such a great place to work, play and live.
Be sure to visit our virtual exhibit page again in November to view the next installment of 200@200.
What is 200@200?
As Indiana embarks on its bicentennial anniversary and reflects on past challenges, successes, and opportunities, we too reflect on 200 years of our part of Indiana. How has Fort Wayne changed? What have we discovered? What will we take with us into the next century?
The 200@200 project is a celebration of Fort Wayne's legacy of progress throughout Indiana's 200 years of history. Using artifacts from the museum's collection of 28,000 objects, the History Center will tell 200 unique stories of Fort Wayne's role in the 200 years of Indiana's statehood throughout the 2016 bicentennial year. Each month highlights a different historical theme and presents a collective mosaic of the community's shared past and present, commemorating the progress, growth, and creativity of the "Summit City." Each month's theme will be featured in a virtual exhibit and in person at the History Center.
The History Center is honored to share that 200@200 has been endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission as an official Legacy Project. WANE serves as the project's media sponsor. Stop by the History Center to view these artifacts in person during 2016.