Press release from the City, dated May 21, 2009, and more AFW photos:
Mayor marks historic highway with new signs
Route Honoring Lincoln Celebrates Heritage and Invites Tourism
Mayor Tom Henry today helped unveil one of the new signs marking the 1915 route of the Lincoln Highway through Fort Wayne. Nearly one hundred years ago, the privately funded highway was the first coast-to-coast route, connecting New York to California, winding through smaller cities and towns in fourteen states. Once called “Main Street Across America,” the route came through Indiana and through Fort Wayne.
“Heritage tourism is one of our greatest assets,” said Mayor Henry. “With renewed interest in off-interstate travel, people are eager to explore the cultural and historic treasures to be found in communities like Fort Wayne. The treasures to be found along the Lincoln Highway are well worth a family vacation and Fort Wayne is ready to welcome those with an interest in rediscovering the entertainment, culture and history to be found slightly off the beaten path. We welcome travelers’ interest and their economic support. It is fitting to kick-off the Memorial Day weekend by once again marking the route of the Lincoln Highway through Fort Wayne; the coast to coast highway was designed as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln.”
May is National Historic Preservation month, and this year’s local celebration highlights the yearlong nation-wide recognition of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday (February 12, 2009). The Hoosier state has many reasons to celebrate President Lincoln; he spent 14 of his most formative years (from age 7 to 21) in southern Indiana. Fort Wayne has embraced Lincoln’s legacy with numerous memorials within the City to visit. Among them is the sculpture “The Hoosier Youth” by renowned sculptor Paul Manship (featured on this year’s local Historic Preservation Month brochure and poster), the Lincoln Tower, and the historic Lincoln Highway. Soon the former Lincoln archival collection of the Lincoln Financial Foundation will open at the Allen County Public Library.
“At one time, the Lincoln Highway came in past Memorial Park on the east side of town,” said Mayor Henry. “Visitors were greeted by the imposing statue of General Anthony Wayne at the entrance to Hayden Park. The statue was dedicated there on July 4, 1918. The bronze sculpture was moved to Freimann Square in 1973. The highway passed through downtown, crossed the St. Mary’s River on the Lincoln Highway Bridge, and went past the St. Vincent Villa. It passed through Five Points as it left town to the northwest.”
Mayor Henry and others unveiled the distinctive sign on the historic Lincoln Highway Bridge on Harrison Street, just north of downtown. About 30 signs will mark the 1915 route through Fort Wayne. The Lincoln Highway route was altered in 1928, and additional signs will also mark the later route. The City plans to have the signs in place by mid-June. The Lincoln Highway Association national conference will be held June 16-20 in South Bend; the new signs will help attendees follow the route through Fort Wayne.
For more information call 427-1127, or visit www.CityofFortWayne.org/preservation.