A chronological index of History Journal features and other stories of historical interest. Last updated on March 8, 2021.
To suggest dates or subjects, email Corey McMaken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 1882 – Oscar Wilde lectures in city: Oscar Wilde was on a lecture tour of the United States when he stopped at Fort Wayne in February 1882. He spoke at the St. Augustine Academy on Feb. 16.
Sept. 1, 1909 -- Crowds gather for 'Fort Wayne day': Between 6,000 and 7,000 local residents gathered at Robison Park for the event.
1916 and 1917 – Journal Gazette picture pages: In the early 1900s, The Journal Gazette published a weekly page of pictures every Sunday. Anything from car accidents and construction projects to family reunions and fishermen showing off their catch. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190411/early-1900s-journal-gazette-picture-pages
1916 – Leonard and Geller's Grocer: This otherwise undated photo shows two men at the grocery at Broadway and Taylor Street.
Summer 1921 -- A 'dream' of riverfront parks: In the summer of 1921, local candy company Heit-Miller-Lau put up a billboard on Calhoun Street that showed what it called “Just A Dream”: A riverfront park extending from Wells Street east to the confluence of the city's three rivers.
Jan. 24, 1925 – Sun's tryst with moon dazzles earthly beings: A story following a solar eclipse over the city.
Aug. 10, 1927 – Charles Lindbergh flies over city: The pilot circled downtown Fort Wayne in his Spirit of St. Louis monoplane and dropped a greeting to the city before heading off toward Detroit without landing.
May 14, 1928 – Happy 90th, Embassy: A feature on Embassy Theatre's 90th anniversary includes a downloadable PDF of the 14-page special section about its opening from May 1928. The archive pages include stories about its construction and the people that brought it to life.
Nov. 16, 1930 – Lincoln Bank Tower opens: People lined up down the block as a crowd of 38,289 visited the tower in 13 hours on its opening day.
1938 – An aerial photograph dated 1938 showing the area of Coldwater Road and North Clinton Street as farmland. Target and Glenbrook Square are among the businesses that stand there now.
October 18, 1944 – A review of Fort Wayne Philharmonic's first performance.
April 14, 1947 – Business women showing off fun hats: Members of the Business and Professional Women's Club showed off their fun hats at a "Hollywood Party."
July 18, 1947 – Making microfilm of JG archives: In the summer of 1947, The Journal-Gazette was converting all of its archived editions to microfilm, which was then a new technology.
July 25, 1947 – Freight train, switch engine collide: A freight train collided with a Nickel Plate Railroad switch engine at the Van Buren Street crossing. Two railroad workers leaped from the engine to escape injury.
Aug. 28, 1947 – Kids' Day in Portland: The day's activities included bands, a pet parade, a circus and soap box race before kids went back to school.
Aug. 28, 1947 – Strauss announced as Coliseum architect: County commissioners announced that A.M. Strauss had been chosen as architect for Memorial Coliseum.
Sept. 7, 1948 – Inspecting Wells Street Bridge: A structural engineer examines the bridge for defects.
December 1950 – Mail workers finish Christmas rush: The city's mail carriers were enjoying some much needed rest on Christmas Eve 1950 – a Sunday – after moving the holiday mail the night before.
1950 to 1952 – Construction of Memorial Coliseum: Ground was broken for Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 24, 1950. There was nothing but farms in the area, but community leaders were optimistic the arena would become a prime destination. It was dedicated Sept. 28, 1952.
June 1952 – Hunting for a giant snake: A huge snake was reported on June 13, 1952, which led to a multi-day hunt that included a mounted posse.
Also, one of the men behind the prank shares his story: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190627/fake-snake-behind-the-1952-prank
Jan. 1, 1954 – Polar Bear plunge: The St. Joseph River was covered by several inches of ice that had to be broken up before the swimsuit-clad men made their plunge.
March 3 to 7, 1954 – Northeastern Indiana Automobile Show: It featured cars for the 1954 model-year, as well as experimental automobiles, a variety show with singing and dancing, and even a visit from Miss America. This feature includes a PDF of the 16-page preview section the JG published ahead of the show. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190124/march-1954-northeastern-indiana-automobile-show
Also, uncovering the correct name for a picture from 1954:
June 14, 1954 – Pet crow stolen, and other stories: There were several fun stories on the local cover this day.
June 22, 1954 – Capturing squirrel that bit boy: When 6-year-old Bill Leming was bitten by a squirrel, police were called. The squirrel needed to be arrested ... well, captured, at least, to make sure it didn't have rabies.
June 28, 1954 – Lad learns red box can call firemen: A curious little boy got quite a surprise! Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20200402/june-28-1954-lad-learns-red-box-calls-firemen
Oct. 8, 1954 – High school football city opener: The North Side High School Redskins beat the Central High School Tigers 19-12.
Oct. 26, 1954 – Central Catholic Irish secure 3rd City Series title: The Central Catholic Irish beat the North Side Redskins at Northrop Field to secure the City Series title.
Oct. 27, 1954 – Voting procedure instruction: Here, William F. Walt and his wife get a lesson from North Side High School junior Mike McLaughlin. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190507/oct-27-1954-voting-procedure-instruction
Nov. 24, 1954 – Downtown prepares to unveil Christmas decorations: The six-foot-tall trees were perched on 88 new light poles.
Oct. 4, 1955 – Construction and dedication of the Nickel Plate Railroad elevation: The Nickel Plate railroad elevation was dedicated Oct. 4, 1955, at the Calhoun Street crossing downtown.
Sept. 15, 1955 – Charlton Heston visits city: The actor visited for several personal appearances at showings of his new movie, "The Private War of Major Benson," which was showing at Embassy Theatre.
Aug. 10, 1956 – Taking down an elm tree: Amid an outbreak of Dutch elm disease, city workers remove a dead tree on Nuttman Avenue.
November 1956 – Backstage with Eva Gabor and Richard Arlen: The actor and actress, who had starred together in 1941's "Forced Landing," were in town for separate stage productions and met up to say hello.
1957 – Changes at Barr Street Market: The pavilions at the downtown market were removed in 1957. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20200528/changes-at-barr-street-market-in-1957
Feb. 19, 1957 – Fire guts downtown building: Nearly 100 firefighters battled a blaze downtown in frigid temperatures for six hours at the corner of Jefferson and Calhoun.
March 30, 1957 – Screams greet Elvis at Coliseum: Memorial Coliseum was filled with 10,000 people when Elvis Presley stepped on stage.
March 31, 1957 – Rescuing a stuck duck: About 55 feet above the ground in the Spy Run Creek park area, a duck was caught on a kite string that was strung between two trees.
Sept. 3, 1957 – Wait For Walk: A program was aimed at educating the city's pedestrians about traffic issues.
Oct. 18, 1957 – Witness to bank robbery: In the first bank robbery in Fort Wayne since 1930, two armed men robbed the Rudisill-Clinton branch of the Lincoln National Bank & Trust Co. on Oct. 18, 1957, and got away with $50,100. A former Journal Gazette managing editor was in the bank and gave a first-hand account of the event.
January 1958 – Battling birds downtown: Stuffed owls were among tactics being used in 1958 to convince pigeons and starlings to stay clear of the Allen County Courthouse and some other downtown buildings.
Jan. 21, 1958 – Crowning a giraffe: Mayor Robert E. Meyers crowned a giraffe the "Ambassador of Good Will" for the Sports, Vacation and Boat Show.
Sept. 4, 1958 – Spy Run steel bridge torn down: The bridge had been constructed in 1888.
July 13, 1959 – Dog climbs slide: Banjo the dog stands on a slide at Fort Wayne State School Day Camp at Round Lake.
Link (includes reader captions): https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20201231/july-13-1959-dog-climbs-slide
July 23, 1959 – Deconstructing buildings on Brackenridge: Workers continue efforts to raze a two-block stretch of buildings that formerly housed shops, freight and division offices of the Pennsylvania Railroad Co.
July 30, 1959 – Sitting on a mountain of melons: A boy samples one of the 400 watermelons and 200 cantaloupes provided as a starter for Harlan Days.
Link (includes reader captions): https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20201231/july-30-1959-sitting-on-a-mountain-of-melons
Jan. 27, 1962 – 'Night of Evil' premieres: Starring Lisa Gaye and William Campbell, "Night of Evil" was filmed in Fort Wayne in the summer and fall of 1960.
Feb. 10, 1962 – Wolf & Dessauer fire: Billowing clouds of smoke were rising from downtown and blocking out the sun over parts of Fort Wayne on the afternoon of Feb. 10, 1962.
March 23, 1962 – Checking out a robot: Students take a look at a robot for the Northeastern Indiana Science Fair.
Link (includes reader captions): https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20201231/march-23-1962-checking-out-a-robot
July 1962 – Washing windows on Lincoln Tower: Ten men were responsible for washing the windows on Lincoln Tower downtown in 1962. There were knobs at the sides of the windows that they would hook their safety belts on, and then they got to work cleaning the 453 windows on the tower.
Aug. 2, 1963 – Bluffton couple raises peacocks for fun: The Irvins discovered peafowl were harder to raise than chickens.
Link (includes reader captions): https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20200625/aug-2-1963-bluffton-couple-raises-peacocks-for-fun
Oct. 9, 1963 – Astronauts visit area for boats: Gordon Cooper and Virgil “Gus” Grissom snuck away while visiting Fort Wayne on Oct. 9, 1963, to test a boat built in Harlan. A few years later, they returned to help build a boat they intended to race.
June 26, 1965 – Laying tile sidewalk on the Landing: The tile workers along with a group of bricklayers worked for weeks on the project without charge.
July 3, 1965 – Fort Wayne Children's Zoo opens: Under sunny skies, about 6,000 guests toured the zoo. Some were amazed to find there were no cages.
Aug. 13, 1965 – Waterballing match outside Courthouse: Six teams of firefighters took part in the state championship matches for waterballing.
Aug. 13, 1965 – Worker freed at ice plant: It took five firefighters about 20 minutes to dig a worker free of bags of ice that fell on him.
Oct. 26, 1965 – Rescue Mission on Superior nears completion: The Fort Wayne Rescue Home and Mission was still under construction when it was used for the first time as the site of a lunch meeting of area church women.
February 1966 – Showgirls for Civic Guild follies: Women dressed up as showgirls for the Civic Guild's Ya-Hoo Follies Revue.
April 8, 1966 – Dog nurses kittens: Lisa, a 1 1/2-year-old Skye Terrier, gave some help to a new mother when she began nursing newborn kittens.
April 13, 1966 – Wapakoneta celebrates Armstrong's homecoming: Neil Armstrong got a hero's welcome when visiting his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, a few weeks after the Gemini 8 mission.
June 5, 1966 – JG spelling champ heads to national bee: Ralph Banasiak left from Baer Field after being sent off by neighbors, friends, family and classmates.
July 23, 1966 – Covering snake story: JG reporter Sandy Thorn gives a humorous recounting of visiting a reptile trailer with a bunch of SNAKES.
July 23 and 24, 1966 – Testing a jet-powered train: The train was a jet-powered experiment of the New York Central Railroad which tested its speed on a stretch of track between Butler and Bryan, Ohio. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190131/testing-a-jet-powered-train-in-1966
Aug. 17, 1966 – Lunch with a view: A construction worker eats his lunch on the edge of the 12th floor of a builiding under construction.
Aug. 23, 1966 – Phelps Dodge office explosion: Around noon Aug. 23, 1966, an explosion turned the administration office of Phelps Dodge Copper Products Corp. into rubble, killing five people.
Jan. 18, 1967 – Girl's finger stuck in jack-in-the-box: Sharon Seabold was playing with a jack-in-the-box, but "Jack" was too quick for the 6-year-old and her finger got stuck in the box.
April 28, 1967 – Fishing from a crane: A workman spent his lunch hour fishing from the bucket of a crane at the confluence of the city's rivers.
July 21, 1967 – Water ballet rehearsal: Swimmers rehearse for the Park Board's annual water ballet.
Sept 22, 1967 – Civic Theatre installs sign: This was when Civic Theatre was based in the Palace Theatre (renamed the Civic Playhouse) on East Washington Boulevard.
Dec. 2, 1967 – Bob Hope's son marries in Defiance: Hundreds of fans came out on a rainy day in Defiance, Ohio, for the wedding of Bob Hope's son on Dec. 2, 1967.
April 7, 1968 – Local tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.: A few days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more than 3,000 people gathered outside the Allen County Courthouse to pay tribute to the civil rights leader.
May 27, 1968 – Fort Wayne Army Reserve Unit 890 Transportation Co. departs Baer Field: The unit was called to active duty during the Vietnam War.
Also, a reunion reconnects the men: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/20190423/reservists-reconnect
May 23, 1968 – A pet lion: The 70-pound lion was housebroken and lived (where else?) in the den.
July 1969 – Preparing for first Three Rivers Festival: The festival was intended to show off Fort Wayne to people coming from out-of-town and to residents that maybe didn't know what all the city had to offer.
July 16 to 19, 1969 – Neil Armstrong's parents react during Apollo 11: Stephen and Viola Armstrong talked to news reporters camped out at their house during the launch and moonwalk.
Also, readers share their memories of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190714/sharing-memories-of-mission-astronaut
Sept. 17, 1969 – Construction underway on the Fort Wayne National Bank Building (now known as PNC Center) downtown.
May 1, 1970 – Selling liquor bottles for school trip: Students took home liquor bottles they collected during a clean-up project and decorated them to raise money. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/article/20200109/WEB/200109816
May 4, 1970 – Fixing flagpole atop Lincoln Tower: A maintenance man climbed to the top of Lincoln Tower's flagpole to replace the pulley.
July 26 to Aug. 1, 1970 – A week in the area included stories about protests on paid parking at local hospitals, a profile of a woman taxi driver and a so-called "Tombstone Ordinance" that would require drive-in theaters to block free viewing of X-rated movies.
September 1971 – Bill Blass returns to city for fashion show: After he graduated from South Side High School, Bill Blass moved to New York to pursue fashion. In 1971, he returned to his hometown for the first time in 25 years ahead of a fashion show that included his latest looks.
Also, a local man tries to verify that his sketches are genuine: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190328/on-a-mission-to-verify-possible-blass-sketches
March 19, 1972 – Sonny and Cher perform at Memorial Coliseum: The pair of singers took the local stage on March 19, 1972.
1973 – Construction and opening of Freimann Square: Freimann Square was dedicated on Sept. 27, 1973, when several hundred people turned out in downtown Fort Wayne to see the fountains in action.
May 10, 1973 – Tornado destroys New Haven home: Four funnel clouds were seen in the skies over Fort Wayne, with at least one hanging stationary several minutes near downtown before it moved away.
January 13, 1974 / Oct. 20, 1974 – Explosive demolitions of Van Orman, Keenan hotels: The downtown hotels were reduced to rubble to become parking lots.
July 16, 1974 – Coaching kids at clown clinic: Children learned about how to be a clown during an all-day clinic at Lakeside Park. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20200430/coaching-kids-at-clown-clinic
Oct. 18, 1974 – Santa makes debut early: A commentary piece about how early Christmas seemed to show up at retailers.
Jan. 1, 1975 – Reporter tries polar bear splash: He found it a thrill, but a cold one.
Feb. 3 and 4, 1975 – Fires on The Landing: On the night of Feb. 3, 1975, two fires swept through buildings on The Landing. The next afternoon, a second fire in the Old Fort Draperies building drew exhausted firefighters back to site. Link: http://www.journalgazette.net/features/20180830/the-landing-blazes
Oct. 9, 1975 – 1 million bottlecaps: Math teacher Dan Sells and his sixth-grade students gathered more than 1 million bottle caps as a teaching aid and piled them in their classroom. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190117/oct-9-1975-1-million-bottlecaps
1975 to 1976 – Construction of the Old Fort: Construction of the fort re-creation began in the summer of 1975. Work on the replica was not finished for its dedication, but several hundred people turned out for the June 1976 festivities.
Aug. 12, 1976 – Dedication of Foellinger Theatre: In August 1976, more than 3,000 people squeezed into Foellinger Theatre for a dedication ceremony and entertainment from Ronald Rogers, Richard Otto and the Dukes of Dixieland.
January 1978 – The Blizzard of '78: A snowstorm left Fort Wayne buried under a record 17 inches of snow in January 1978. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/The-Blizzard-of--78--Jan--26--1978-17459103
Jan. 1, 1978 – Polar Bear Club's New Year's Day swim: More than 60 people joined the Polar Bear Club's 39th annual New Year's Day dip in the St. Joseph River.
Dec. 20, 1979 – Santas hope to overlook worst gifts: A fun story and set of photos from 1979 about terrible gifts.
Late 1970s – Fond memories of Santa display include path to restoration: The history of the downtown Santa display and its restoration in the 1970s and '80s.
June 18, 1980 – Sandblasting the library: A worker sandblasts Allen County Public Library in an outfit worthy of "Star Wars."
July 12, 1980 – Show Us Your Tan Contest: An estimated 10,000 people gathered at Southtown Mall for a "Show Us Your Tan" contest the featured 100 men and women.
Sept. 20, 1980 – Domino Wizard at Southtown Mall: Robert Speca, known as the Domino Wizard, created a piece at Southtown Mall. Link: http://www.journalgazette.net/features/20171228/domino-wizard-at-southtown-mall
December 1980 – Santa display lit together for first time since '50s: The holiday season of 1980 was the first time the entire display had been hung and lit up since the late 1950s.
1982 to 1983 – Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory construction, opening: The gardens opened Nov. 20, 1983.
July 17, 1982 – The Great newsPaper Airplane Championships: Thousands of people threw airplanes at a car, hoping to win it and other prizes.
Also, the winner shares his memories: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20210225/82-car-winner-still-owns-pontiac-rarely-drives-it
1982 to 1984 – Fort Wayne Museum of Art construction, opening: The current building opened on April 15, 1984.
July 15, 1983 – Last truck rolls off line at Harvester plant: On a Friday afternoon in mid-July 1983, a green Model 4200 International Harvester truck rolled off the assembly line at the Fort Wayne International Harvester plant. It was the 1,527,299th truck built since the plant opened in 1923 – and its last.
Sept. 2, 1993 – St. Mary's Church Fire: “St. Mary's burns.” That was the headline the morning after a blaze destroyed the downtown Catholic church on Sept. 2, 1993.
1995 to 1999 – Construction of Headwaters Park: More than 100 people attended the grand opening of the first phase of Headwaters Park on Sept. 10, 1995. See the park at various stages of construction.
Nov. 5, 1995 – Opening of Science Central: The science museum in the old City Light and Power plant opened to a crowd of about 2,000 people.
Nov. 14, 1995 – Giving fall leaves a kick: A city resident kicks leaves away from a street gutter.
June 1, 1997 – Glenbrook Square ice rink closes: Renovations at Glenbrook Square spelled the end of an era as the mall shut down its indoor ice rink on June 1, 1997.
Nov. 15, 1997 – Rolling a giant snowball: A group of friends rolled a huge snowball in an empty lot on Fairfield Avenue. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/history-journal/20190702/nov-15-1997-rolling-a-giant-snowball
Feb. 11, 1998 – Preparing flowers for Valentine's Day: The florist shop was expecting to process about 12,000 flowers during the Valentine's Day rush that year.
July 6, 1998 – A firehouse wedding: Ken Burson and Elizabeth Clegg Burson were married by the Rev. Victor Kolch on July 6, 1998, in a ceremony in the bucket of a hook and ladder fire truck above the Aboite Township fire station.
1998 to 1999 – Creation of Courthouse Green: With its half-moon walkways, benches, fountains and almost an acre of grass in the heart of downtown, the Courthouse Green was dedicated Oct. 15, 1999, after a three-year project that cost about $3 million.
Feb. 14, 2000 – A classroom valentine: Kindergartner Shaquek Cotton reads a valentine that she received from a classmate at South Wayne Elementary School.
July 11, 2001 – Lottery decides area will switch to 260 area code: Cards were pulled from a large fish bowl to decide which two areas in Northeast Indiana would lose the 219 code.
July 18, 2001 – James Earl Jones visits Fort Wayne Wizards: Actor James Earl Jones came to Fort Wayne to do a dramatic reading for children and recite the national anthem at a Wizards baseball game.
Aug. 2, 2002 – Raising the roof of Memorial Coliseum: The 43,680-square-foot roof of Memorial Coliseum was raised 41 feet and 10 inches. It took almost five hours.
Oct. 18, 2005 – Cleaning out a pumpkin: A Franke Park Elementary student cleans out a pumpkin.
2007 to 2009 – Construction of Parkview Field: The TinCaps' first game was played downtown April 16, 2009. See the project at various stages of construction: http://www.journalgazette.net/features/Construction-of-Parkview-Field-18406339
June 12, 2008 – Demolition work on site of Haunted Castle: The former site of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church at Wallen and Old Auburn roads had been the home of the Haunted Castle for about 30 years.
Oct. 2008 to Oct. 2019 – A Zombie Walk down memory lane: Gallery of photos from Zombie Walks in downtown Fort Wayne.
May 12, 2019 – Mother's Day downtown: The day stood in sharp contrast to what was experienced a year later during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• 106 degrees – City's hottest days: The record was set on July 22, 1934, and repeated on July 14, 1936, and June 25, 1988. Most recently, the mercury spiked that high on June 28, 2012. Link: https://www.journalgazette.net/features/106-degrees--City-s-hottest-days-17781133
• Gourd times in patches of the past: A photo gallery of kids enjoying pumpkin patches through the years.
• Halloween through the years: A look at Halloween costumes and celebrations.
• Dracula and other Halloween creatures: Vignettes include "Dracula" arriving in the city and a Beast of 'Busco couples costume.
• Miss Liberty: The statue has come down from its perch atop the Allen County Courthouse more than once for repairs. The first time was in 1947.
• The Toboggan run at Pokagon State Park through the years.
• A collection of unusual headlines that catch the eye.
Visits by presidential hopefuls: Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama are among presidential nominees that have visited the area ahead of general elections.
Catching some winter air: Shots of airborne sledders, sliders and tubers enjoying the snow.