Thursday, May 19, 2011

Historic Fort Wayne: another forgotten Detroit landmark

Shackled by the misfortune of sharing a neighborhood with one of the more neglected corners of Detroit, Historic Fort Wayne is a marvel, if only for the fact that it still stands. Surely, anyone who's had the pleasure of taking a recent sight-seeing tour through Delray to witness the high weeds and broken bricks up close will vouch.

But yet there it is, Historic Fort Wayne, sprawling like a forgotten prep school just off West Jefferson.

It's easy to imagine that in any other city, Fort Wayne would be an at least a B-list tourist attraction. And because of that, we're adding it to our growing list of Things To Do In Detroit.

In the meantime, we did the next best thing and visited The Historic Fort Wayne Coalition website, where we stumbled across a few remarkable facts about the campus of buildings tucked quietly on Detroit's southwest side.

• It was built in the 1840s at a time of high tension between the U.S. and British Canada.
• The site was chosen, in large part, because the existing on-site fort was slated to be equipped with the most up-to-date cannon capable of firing on the Canadian shore.
• Fort Wayne never saw one shot fired in anger.
• It eventually became the primary induction center for troops entering battle in every U.S. conflict from the Civil War to Vietnam.
• It was the primary procurement location for vehicles and weapons manufactured in Detroit for both World Wars.

To get to Fort Wayne from downtown Detroit, take Fort Street to Clark and turn left. Pass the old Bob-Lo docks building, and drive until you see the Fort Wayne entrance on your left. Visit the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition online at