Project Description

The City of Fort Wayne's Neighborhood Planning & Activation Workgroup is working closely with stakeholders in the Northeast Neighborhoods Planning Area to develop a ten-year strategic framework for project and program investment in the neighborhoods.

The following neighborhoods are a part of the Northwest Neighborhoods Planning Area

  • Forest Park Neighborhood
  • Northside Neighborhood
  • North Anthony Neighborhood

Historic Northeast 2035 is a planning document that provides a shared vision of three (3) neighborhoods located in the northeast urban core of the City of Fort Wayne. The Historic Northeast area is rich in community and character that the community looks to continue to grow into the future. In the following pages, you will find that this plan is created to:

  • Engage the residents and stakeholders of the Historic Northeast area to identify and prioritize needs and aspirations
  • Establish a shared vision that can guide the three (3) neighborhoods of the planning area
  • Celebrate the planning area’s community, character, and unique identity
  • Develop a set of goals and implementation strategies that will guide planning and development activities, neighborhood design, public improvements, and future investments
  • Provide guidance to neighborhood associations in the Historic Northeast areas, the City of Fort Wayne, decision-makers, public agencies, developers, investors, for-profit corporations and non-profit corporations

The Plan will include various information, data, and support on the Historic Northeast Area's:

  • History
  • Engagement
  • Existing Conditions
  • Recommendations

This plan will involve various members of the community. In short, people who may live, work, worship, or participate in the Historic Northeast planning area; we want to make sure all voices are heard.

The plan will be guided by the Historic Northeast Planning Committee; and with the help of community input, will lay a foundation and build the path towards the development of the plan.

Historic Northeast Area

Historic Northeast 2035 Engagement Summary

Historic Northeast 2035 Executive Summary

Neighborhood History

The area known today as Fort Wayne’s Historic Northeast has a rich history. This section of the city reflects the full range of human history in the City of Fort Wayne. From a Miami village to the earliest rural and suburban development patterns, to today’s modern city, the Historic Northeast has continuously been home to generations of people. Although the area continues to change, it retains a unique character, features, and people that connect the present to the past.

The geographic location of the area that would become the City of Fort Wayne, at the confl uence of three rivers, the St. Joseph, the St. Mary’s, and the Maumee, made it a central point for travel on the rivers by both Native Americans and European traders and settlers. Before Europeans began to enter northeast Indiana, the area near the confl uence of the three rivers was a gathering place for Native American tribes for centuries, and was a traditional trade center for the Miami, Potowatomi, Wea, and other tribes which inhabited the Great Lakes region. The three rivers provided access to the Great Lakes and much of Ohio, as well as northern and central Indiana. In addition, a short, swampy portage over a continental divide, between the St. Mary’s River and the Little Wabash River to the west, gave access to the Illinois lands and to southern Indiana, as well as to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. This overland portage was a direct route for travelers by canoe when making their way from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The extensive natural transportation network gave the site of Fort Wayne distinct advantages for commerce and settlement.

The Miami village of Kekionga flourished in the area that would become the Historic Northeast. The Miami nation established Kekionga east of the St. Joseph River in the mid-1600s; however, the three rivers area had likely been a settlement and camp location for centuries before. Kekionga was the traditional capital of the Miami nation and related Algonquian tribes. Kekionga, meaning “blackberry patch” because of the abundance of blackberries in the area, was likely a fortified village made up of huts surrounded by palisades – wooden defensive walls - spiraling to an entrance. At the center of this village was a great fire pit used for various types of ceremonies. While the village would have been surrounded by cultivated fields of corn, orchards, and gardens, the village itself was the center of the Miami nation and its source of strength.

As Europeans entered northern Indiana, Kekionga was the site of fi rst contact between Native Americans and French explorers, traders, and missionaries. Perhaps as early as the 1680s, French traders established a post at Kekionga because it was the gateway to the direct portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. As a slow trickle of Europeans (primarily the French) moved into northern Indiana in the 1700s they inhabited Kekionga and the surrounding area. The French then established a series of military outposts to secure their trade routes. The first French fort (in what would become the city of Fort Wayne) was located along the St. Mary’s River to the west of the Historic Northeast area. It was built in 1697 and was named Fort Miamis, part of a group of forts built between Quebec, Canada and St. Louis. In 1721 Fort Miamis was replaced by Fort St. Philippe des Miamis.

In 1750 the French built another new fort, closer to the village of Kekionga and within the area that would become the Historic Northeast. The new Fort Miami was built along the east bank of the St. Joseph River near where St. Joe Boulevard and Delaware Avenue intersect. This location near Kekionga led to easier interaction between the French soldiers, French traders, and the Miami and other tribes that visited Kekionga. French traders and their families also likely made their homes in the Historic Northeast area, in order to be near both the fort and Kekionga. Travel accounts and other descriptions of the character of the village of Kekionga, from the 1760s to the early 1800s, describe it as a French and Native American settlement. There was a mix of French traders, Native Americans, and people of mixed descent. By the early 1790s, houses built in the area were likely based on typical French Colonial architectural models, similar to the few houses that have survived in other areas of the U.S. settled by the French. None of these houses survived in the Historic Northeast area, or in northern Indiana.

In 1755, French and British hostilities led to war. In the French and Indian War, Fort Miami was an important site. Many Native Americans allied with the French, and many Indian raids on British forts to the east originated from Fort Miami. By 1760, the British had arrived in the area that would become the Historic Northeast. Fort Miami fell to the British in November 1760. The influence of the French military had officially ended. However, French traders and former soldiers remained in Kekionga. French cultural influence would survive in the area for generations.

With the British occupation of Fort Miami, broken treaties and trade disputes eventually caused Native Americans all over the Great Lakes region to unite as the Northwestern Confederacy of Native Americans under Chief Pontiac of the Odawa. The confederacy, formally called the United Indian Nations, consisted of the Cherokee, Iroquois, Lenapa (also called the Delaware), Miami, Odawa, Ojibwa, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Wabash Confederacy, and Wyandot tribes. The confederacy spanned the geographic area of modern-day Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and parts of Minnesota.

Chief Pontiac ordered the attack of all British garrisons north of the Ohio River. On May 25, 1763, Miami forces overtook Fort Miami in the battle called “Pontiac’s Rebellion.” by Europeans. As a result, the Miami tribe regained physical control of Kekionga and the surrounding area, a rule that lasted for more than 30 years.

Today the location of Fort Miami is indicated in the Northside Neighborhood by a marker placed north of the intersection of St. Joseph Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, at St. Joseph Blvd. and Northside Drive. The text of the marker is a reminder of the importance of erasure in historical accounts and reads: “SITE OF LAST FRENCH FORT. Erected 1750 by Captain Raimond Surrendered to the British Under Lieutenant Butler, in 1760. Ensign Richard Holmes and British garrison massacred by Miami Indians in 1763. The most severe engagement of battle between Gen. Josiah Harmar and Miamis under Little Turtle fought here, Oct. 22, 1790. Tablet erected by the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution June 14, 1922.”

On September 3, 1763, the French ceded claim of the Great Lakes region to the British, including Fort Wayne and the Historic Northeast area. Although the British had technical claim to ownership from the treaty, they took no action to reclaim Kekionga or to settle the area. The Treaty of Paris also marked the end of the Revolutionary War and the start of the United States’ independence from the British. United States and Northwestern Confederacy of Native Americans Clash

The Miami village of Kekionga’s strategic location in connecting water portages made it a priority for the fledgling United States nation. In 1790, President George Washington ordered the United States army to secure the area, beginning the United States’ first military campaign after the Revolutionary War. Between 1790 and 1794 three major campaigns were fought over Kekionga between Chief Little Turtle and the Miami Confederacy and the United States. Miami forces defeated the American Army in the first two major battles; known as “Harmar’s Defeat” and “St. Clair’s Defeat.”

The Northside Neighborhood area would become the scene of bitter conflict and loss of life in “Harmar’s Defeat.” On October 22, 1790, Commander Josiah Harmar marched north from Fort Washington in Cincinnati with 320 regular soldiers and roughly 1,100 poorly trained militiamen from Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Native Americans fled their homes as Harmar’s army approached; several villages were burned completely. On October 20, 1790 Miami, Shawnee, and Potawatomi troops, led by Chief Simon Girty, also known as Katepacomen, ambushed a detachment of Harmar’s army led by Colonel John Hardin. Hardin’s force consisted of several hundred militiamen and a few regular soldiers. Most of the militiamen fled without firing a shot, while the regulars put up a brief resistance, but most were killed. Harmar attempted to take Kekionga two days later with his remaining forces. Once again, the Americans were badly defeated, with additional troops from Shawnee, Miami, Lenape, Odawa, and Sauk supporting the fight. Harmar retreated to the safety of Fort Washington with 183 men killed or missing. It is estimated that between 120-150 Miami, Shawnee and Potatwatomi troops were killed. The bloodiest battles of “Harmar’s Defeat,” occurred in today’s Northside Neighborhood.

A historic marker erected in the 1000 block of Edgewater Avenue tells the story from the United States’ perspective: “To the memory of Major John Wyllys and his brave soldiers who were killed near this spot in the battle of Harmar’s Ford, October 22, 1790 with the Miami Indians under Chief Little Turtle. Erected by the Mary Penrose Wayne Capter D.A.R. in the Centennial Year 1916.”

In 1791, Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, led a second campaign to claim U.S. control of Kekionga. In September, 1791 St. Clair marched from Fort Washington, near Cincinnati. By November 3, his men arrived on the banks of the Wabash River, near Miami villages about 50 miles southeast of Kekionga. Little Turtle of the Miami, Blue Jacket of the Shawnee, and Buckongahelas of the Lenape (also known as Delaware) led troops including Powatami from eastern Michigan. On the morning of November 4th, 1791, the native troops attacked the American troops at Fort Recovery, Ohio. St. Clair’s Defeat was “the most decisive defeat in the history of the American military,” and the largest defeat ever by Native Americans.

In 1794, President Washington sent General Anthony Wayne to again attempt to gain US control of Kekionga. Wayne prepared his forces methodically and carefully marched his troops toward the Maumee River, ever aware of ambush. He built forts as he marched, in order to secure his supply line, and he did not directly attack Kekionga. This scattered the Northwestern Confederacy of Native American forces, as they attempted to respond to Wayne’s troop movements. On August 20th, 1794, Northwestern Confederacy of Native American troops led by Blue Jacket of the Shawne Egushawa of the Ottawas, were defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near present-day Maumee, Ohio. After a brief stand-off with British forces that held the nearby Fort Miamis, a British garrison in American territory, General Wayne marched southwest along the Maumee River and claimed Kekionga under United States’ control.

Wayne’s army built a garrison that was named “Fort Wayne,” just across the Maumee River from the Historic Northeast area. Wayne’s victory was solidified with the Treaty of Greenville (Ohio) in 1795. Kekionga began to diminish in its importance as the Miami tribe and French traders increasingly moved to other river sites. By roughly 1810, Kekionga was largely abandoned and was likely left to return to a wild state.

Indiana was established as a state in 1816, which led to greater stability in the region and an increase in American settlers in the 1820s. Allen County was formed by the Indiana legislature in 1823, and in 1824 the town of Fort Wayne was platted by John T. Barr of Baltimore, Maryland and John McCorkle of Piqua, Ohio. In 1829 Fort Wayne was incorporated as a town. By the 1840s the U.S. government had forcibly displaced most Native Americans to areas farther west and the village of Kekionga was only a memory in what would become the Historic Northeast area

As the city of Fort Wayne developed in the mid-nineteenth century the Northside Neighborhood area was at the edge of the city, but removed from easy access of the early plats of Fort Wayne by the Maumee and St. Joseph Rivers. Major highway routes to and from the city passed through the area, and the area was likely used for pastures, small farms, gardens, fields, and woodlots. By the late nineteenth century, the Historic Northeast contained rural estates, and some scattered farms and individual houses with an early “suburban estate” character. In what is now the Lakeside area, near the Columbia Avenue Bridge, “Mad Anthony Park” was a private park and recreation area.

Some nineteenth century Italianate houses survive within the Historic Northeast area, primarily near the St. Joseph River and near Lake Ave. Perhaps the best example of the early suburban character of the Northside Neighborhood is the Henry J. Baker House at 1004-1008 Delaware Avenue. Henry J. Baker was a Fort Wayne businessman, banker, and local politician. Henry and Mary Baker purchased 36 acres of land in 1858 along the St. Joseph Turnpike from Samuel Hanna. Around 1861, the Baker’s built the house that would become 1004-1008 Delaware Ave. well outside the city, facing the St. Joseph Turnpike. (As the Historic Northeast area urbanized, the St. Joseph Turnpike was renamed Baker Avenue, and even later became Delaware Avenue.) As a rural estate, the house was never a farmhouse, but it would have had a small barn and perhaps other outbuildings.

In 1887, Indiana state legislators enacted a law providing for a major state institution and campus to be built in what would later become Northside Park. The “Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth” was designed by prominent Fort Wayne architects Wing & Mahurin. The school opened its doors on what would become East State Boulevard in 1890, admitting 300 children. Young people enrolled at the new school took classes in art, music and gym. As they grew older, girls were taught laundry and domestic skills while boys were taught farming, carpentry, brick-making, and cobblery. A large campus of training facilities and support buildings was developed on the site, and the state school farmed fi elds in the area. By 1918, the facility’s population had swelled to well over 1,000, including adults as well as children.

In 1892 The Driving Park Association purchased 100 acres in the vicinity of what is now Crescent Ave., N. Anthony Blvd., and E. State Blvd. The Association built a first-class one-mile trotting track with a grandstand, stables, and other support buildings. Driving Park was a popular gathering spot for Fort Wayne society in the 1890s. In 1902, the Fort Wayne Trotting Association passed control of the grounds to the Fort Wayne Fair Association. By 1902 a trolley line on E. State Blvd. delivered passengers directly to the grandstand; assisting attendance at fairs that drew more than 10,000 spectators a day. Auto and motorcycle races were also held on the one-mile oval of Driving Park. Races were frequent and were also a highlight of annual fairs through 1913. In 1910 Fort Wayne’s first aviation event was held at Driving Park. Miss Blanche Stuart Scott became the first American woman to make a solo public flight by airplane. After the improvements of E. State and N. Anthony, built to implement the Kessler plan, it was inevitable that Driving Park was sold to developers for residential development. N. Anthony was extended north of E. State to Crescent Ave., and Forest Park Boulevard was extended north of State as part of the Driving Park Addition.

During the time Driving Park was a destination, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, urban housing developed rapidly in the area. In this era the Historic Northeast began to attain the visual character of dense urban residential development that it retains today. The primary housing developments were Lakeside Park, Forest Park Addition, Forest Park Blvd., Driving Park, Kensington Blvd., developments on N. Anthony Blvd., and the Northwood addition.

The Lakeside Park Addition was developed in the early 1890s as Fort Wayne’s fi rst suburban addition. Lakeside Park Addition reaches east from the confl uence of the St. Marys, St. Joseph, and Maumee Rivers to Lakeside Park. It stretches north of the Maumee River, including the streets of Edgewater Drive, Columbia Avenue, Lake Avenue, and Rivermet Avenue. Lakeside Park was developed as a residential area in conjunction with the extension of streetcar lines east of downtown Fort Wayne and it is an example of a “streetcar suburb.”

Streetcar suburbs extended outward from the central city, concentrated along streetcar lines. They often created infi ll development between the streetcar lines that were built on the transportation corridors. Because the streetcars made numerous stops spaced at short intervals, developers platted rectilinear subdivisions where homes, generally on narrow lots, were built within a five or ten-minute walk of the streetcar stops. The very large Forest Park Addition (now the “Seven States” area) was built after the Lakeside Park Addition, but it continued the “streetcar suburb” development pattern further to the north and east. Lakeside Park was developed as a city park between Lakeside and Forest Park Additions, using land donated by the housing developers of the area. Its ponds were originally borrow pits that provided earth for building dikes to protect the Lakeside area from river fl ooding.

The Northwood and Driving Park residential additions, along with Forest Park Blvd., N. Anthony, and Kensington Blvd., were developed after a period of civic awakening in Fort Wayne. The city’s Commercial Club enlisted Charles Mulford Robinson to draft a city plan; it was published in 1909. Robinson was an early city planner from upstate New York who was inspired by the City Beautiful movement. In Robinson’s Fort Wayne plan, he recommended matching up streets in developing areas with the existing street patterns, an element of planning that had been lacking in some smaller additions in the Historic Northeast. Robinson’s plan also included an emphasis on parks, and encouraged the retention of trees in new developments. Deed restrictions in Fort Wayne additions developed after c.1910 reveal efforts on the part of the developers to control the development of residential neighborhoods by restricting the uses of residential lots.

Other residential areas of the Historic Northeast were filled by smaller housing developments that bridged the gaps between the larger developments. Large tracts of the northern section of the Northside Neighborhood, mostly north of East State Boulevard, were developed more slowly and independently as large rural outlots that were later platted or subdivided. The development pattern in the northern section of the Northside Neighborhood led to greater diversity in the size of lots, and in great diversity in the ages, sizes, character, and quality of housing in these areas. The Great Depression slowed residential construction in the Historic Northeast, but contributed to an increase in conversions of single-family housing to apartment units, primarily in the Lakeside area. By the 1940s, however, the area had recovered, and Crescent Avenue, Parnell Avenue, E. State Blvd., and N. Anthony Blvd. were largely developed. Housing continued to be built in northern sections of the Historic Northeast into the 1960s.

East State and North Anthony Boulevards are also products of the 1909 Robinson Fort Wayne plan, as refined by the nationally significant landscape architect George Kessler in 1911. East State was an existing road; however Kessler designated it as the major east-west corridor on the north edge of the city. It linked Anthony Boulevard to the St. Mary’s Parkway, two north-south corridors on the east and west edges of the town. The boulevards were designed to efficiently move automotive traffic in a scenic, pleasurable, and healthy environment. The rights-of-way were as much as one hundred feet wide, and contained a forty-foot wide road fl anked by wide tree lawns and sidewalks. Improvements to create the boulevard system started in 1912. The increased vehicle traffic on East State Boulevard led to clustered business development; primarily a major neighborhood commercial area centered on State and Crescent Avenue. The boulevard system was a factor that contributed to the selection of East State at the St. Joseph River for the location of North Side High School when it was built in 1927. Later, the area near the high school, between Parnell and the St. Joseph River, developed as an additional commercial area.

After 1911, much of the new development in the eastern sections of Historic Northeast was a reaction to, and George Kessler Plan. The earliest development was Forest Park Blvd. Louis Curdes platted Forest Park Place; the plat included Florida Drive, but the focus was on Forest Park Boulevard to the east. Forest Park Blvd. has large lots and the grand boulevard is 130 feet wide. The success of Forest Park Place led to expansion, and Driving Park Addition was platted in 1913, extending the Boulevard north from East State Blvd. to the East and West Drive area. Curdes used deed restrictions in the plat documents; while the homes of Forest Park Boulevard widely vary, the conditions resulted in a uniform appearance of the area in terms of setbacks and character. Forest Park developed as an area for the wealthy and established families of Fort Wayne. The boulevard was home to key figures of Fort Wayne’s growth and development, as influential businessmen, realtors, politicians, and entrepreneurs chose to build on Forest Park Blvd. Forest Park Boulevard is a National Register-listed historic district with large high-style homes, many of them unique and architect-designed.

The North Anthony Boulevard area, the focus of the North Anthony Area Association, is a combination of several plats all united by their common relationship to North Anthony Boulevard. Development along Anthony represents a unique partnership between public entities and private developers during a period of rapid growth in Fort Wayne. The intersection of two of the Kessler boulevards, State and Anthony, created a development node that residential developers instantly recognized as desirable.

Kensington Blvd. is also part of the North Anthony Area Association, but it has a distinct character all its own. It stretches continuously from the Maumee River north to E. State Blvd. It was platted in 1917 and in 1921 by developer, W.E. Doud, hoping to emulate the success of nearby Forest Park Boulevard. A good collection of twentieth century house styles shows the evolution of houses in the period. One Italianate farmhouse from the mid-to-late nineteenth 19th century remains. It was incorporated into the development. River Forest Blvd. is a later Historic Northeast boulevard development, yet it echoes the earlier City Beautiful developments. River Forest, near Concordia HS, was developed in the period between 1948 and the mid-1960s. Residential developers like Curdes and Doud applied Robinson’s and Kessler’s ideals in a practical manner to successfully design residential developments in the eastern and northern sections of the Historic Northeast area.

The construction of Parkview Memorial Hospital, and its opening in 1953 had a significant impact on development of the Historic Northeast as a desirable area. During the period from the 1950s to the 1960s the area completed the balance of its residential construction; it was adjacent to thriving commercial areas, educational centers, and community centers. Suburban development and the challenges of Traffic and proximity to downtown Fort Wayne created the need for residents to monitor changes in the area. For example, the Northside Neighborhood Association has promoted community, stability, and quality development in the neighborhood since 1975. In the 1970s many neighborhood associations formed in Fort Wayne to advocate for urban areas.

Neighborhood Demographics

The Historic Northeast Area has held a stable population over the past twenty years, with a slight increase in the past decade and significant projected growth following. Between 2010 and 2020, the population grew by less than one percent or a real increase of 120 residents. This is slightly less than the city-wide average of 4% growth in the same decade. Only recently has Historic Northeast seen a surge of growth. Between 2020 and 2022, the estimated growth has outpaced nearby neighborhoods, increasing population by about 5.1% or an equivalent to approximately 650 new residents. While Census Tract 34 saw a population decline in each decennial census, approximately 5.7% between 2000 and 2020, the same census tract is projected to grow 5.6% between 2020 and 2022, which would keep the overall population growth flat. The areas of Historic Northeast that saw the most positive growth between 2010 and 2020 were Census Tract 3, which saw a 3% growth, followed by Census Tract 1, with an increase of 2.1%.

The upward trend in higher education attainment among residents of Historic Northeast neighborhoods mirrors a national pattern. Particularly noteworthy is the increase in individuals attaining a Graduate or Professional degree, which improved from 700 individuals in 2000, constituting 8.2% of the adult population aged 25+, to an estimated 1,218 individuals in 2022, accounting for 13.4%. This represents a remarkable 54% increase over the twenty-two-year span. Additionally, the number of individuals securing bachelor’s degrees experienced a substantial uptick, rising from 1,484 in 2000 or 17.3% of the adult population aged 25+, to an estimated 1,739 in 2022, comprising 19.2% of the adult population. This marks a noteworthy 15.8% increase over the same period. Importantly, these statistics reveal that a higher proportion of Historic Northeast residents hold at least a post-secondary degree compared to the citywide average, indicating a positive educational attainment trend within the community.

Over the past two decades, the median household income in Historic Northeast has faced stagnant growth, declining by 9.9% from $64,865 (adjusted for inflation) in 2000 to $58,748 in 2022. This decline, slightly exceeding the citywide average of 6%, impacted three out of four census tracts. Census Tract 4, however, saw the largest decrease, with a 21.9% decline, amounting to nearly $10,807. However, Census Tract 3 stood out with a modest 4% increase in median household incomes, rising from $67,549 (adjusted for inflation) in 2000 to $70,324 in 2022.

Over the past two decades, poverty has seen a steady increase in Historic Northeast, increasing from 691 residents, or 5.2% of the population in 2000 to an estimated 1,598 residents, or 12% in 2022. Despite a gradual decrease in poverty rates since 2010, the overall increase has been nearly 130.8% in over twenty-two years. Each census tract experienced a surge in poverty, with Census Tract 4 witnessing the most signifi cant spike. Starting with 343 residents, or 12.2% of the population in 2000, it swelled to an estimated 608 residents, or 21.8% in 2022 making a notable 77% increase. While no census tract saw a decline in poverty, Census Tract 34 observed the least significant change from 155 residents, or 3.4% in 2000 to an estimated 376 residents, or 8.2% in 2022. Census Tract 1 has seen the most promising improvements from 387 residents, or 16.4% in 2010 to an estimated 277 residents, or 10.4% in 2022, which was a 28.4% decrease.

Neighborhood Crime and Safety

Historic Northeast residents value safely very highly. When it comes to crime, residents are not in agreement about how much of a concern safety is in their neighborhood. Some neighborhood residents are concerned about crime, while others describe the area as “very safe.”

Of 500 survey respondents, 55% rate their sense of safety as “good.” Another 27% of survey respondents rate their sense of safety “fair.” When asked about their sense of personal safety, 65% of survey respondents determine it is “very good” or “good”. However, despite so many residents reporting feeling safe, safety issues are still primary concerns.

The most common crime types discussed by residents were theft, burglary, vandalism, as well as safety in and around parks. Despite safety around parks being a concern, 65% of survey respondents rate the safety and security in parks as “very good” or “good.”

Residents are concerned with how the lack of safety can negatively impact the economic vitality of the area. There is particular concern about the safety of State Street, for both vehicular traffic and fear of crime, and how this issue hinders possible economic development.

Many residents share a concern about unsafe traffic speeds. Only 38% of survey respondents rated safety when interacting with traffic as “very good” or “good,” and 35% rated it as only “fair.” Unsafe vehicular speeds threaten pedestrian safety, particularly around parks and schools. This lack of vehicular safety on residential streets decreases eyes on the street and can lead to an increased risk of crime.

The changing landscape of nearby downtown, as well as the location of emergency shelters, has also caused safety concerns among residents. Loitering begets fear, and actual instances of harassment and assaults are cited as well.

To analyze the crime rate in the Historic Northeast area, police crime data was examined from 2010-2023. Offense police data was utilized to reflect crimes committed rather than the limited information available when calls are made to 911 dispatch. In collaboration with the Fort Wayne Police Department, crimes were categorized into violent or nonviolent and by crime type. Violent crime is any crime that involves either violence or the threat of violence. Nonviolent crimes are those crimes that do not involve violence, primarily property crimes.

One limitation of this dataset is that it only includes crimes that are reported to the police The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey in 2020 found that only 40% of violent crimes and 33% of nonviolent crimes are reported nationwide. The primary reasons that victims cite for not reporting crimes are “dealing with the issue another way,” “police could not or would not do anything to help,” or that the issue was “not important enough.” Therefore, when examining this data, we should understand the results as overall trends that give valuable information, rather than a complete picture of the safety of the area.

In the Historic Northeast area, as everywhere in the nation, the perception of crime does not always correlate to actual crime rates. In other words, it is possible for low crime rates to occur at the same time as the fear of crime is increasing or the same time that people believe crime is increasing.

However, the perception of crime impacts economic realities, area reputation, and the health and psychology of residents and visitors to area. Therefore, though the perception of crime may differ from actual crime rates, the perception of crime is its own indicator that has real world impacts.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is one measure that can decrease both crime and the fear of crime through changes to the built environment and social cohesion. Measures used in the CPTED Pilot Area in Fort Wayne have had great success and could be considered to increase the sense of safety in the Historic Northeast area.

Overall Crime Rate

The crime rate in Historic NE Neighborhood has decreased steadily over the last 10 years. 2023 saw the lowest crime rate, for both violent and nonviolent crime, since 2010. This steady decrease is also true for each of the three individual neighborhoods. The entire area and each individual neighborhood have a steady downward trend in nonviolent, violent, and overall crime.

Car Theft

Car thefts have gained national attention for their rapid increase. Nationally, the rate of vehicle theft has doubled from 2019 to 2023.

The car theft rate is affected by the Kia and Hyundai viral phenomenon, in which used Kias and Hyundais are vulnerable to theft with a USB cable and do not have an engine immobilizer to prevent the engine from starting when the key is not nearby. The details of how easy these models could be highjacked was documented in a viral trend called “Kia Boys,” in which many minors stole the vehicles and posted the experience on social media sites.

Despite a national trend of increased car thefts in 2023, the Historic NE Neighborhoods did not experience this increase. Even the spike in 2022 was still lower than the rate of car thefts between 2011 and 2013, in which the rate ranged from 33-39 instances per year.


Burglary is defi ned as the “intentional breaking into of a dwelling with the intent to steal.” Burglary was one of the largest concerns for Historic Northeast residents. However, as previously discussed, the fear of crime is sometimes not in line with the actual crime rate, which is true in this case. The number of burglaries in the Historic Northeast area is at a historic low. 2023, with only 16 burglaries, is only 10% of the area’s peak in 2013. Since 2020, the number of burglaries has not exceeded 20 per year, only a fraction of the average from 2010-2017.


Assault is defined as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another.” Several Historic Northeast residents shared concern about the rate of assaults in the area. However, despite relative peaks in 2022 and 2020, the rate of assault has declined over the last ten years. 2023 had the lowest rate of assault in the past ten years, with half the number of assaults compared to the peak in 2012.


Vandalism is defined as the “mindless and malicious harm and injury to another’s property.” Historic Northeast residents were concerned about the rate of vandalism, particularly around parks and near downtown. The overall rate of vandalism has decreased in the last 10 years but remains higher than five years ago when there were only 1-2 instances of vandalism per year. The current rate is still a fraction of the peak in 2012.

Increasing Crime Types

The vast majority of crime types in the area have decreased over the past ten years, including assault, homicide, burglary, robbery, theft, vehicle theft, child abuse or neglect, fights, simple assault, and threats. The overall crime rate, and the overall violent and nonviolent crime rate is decreasing steadily. However, a few crime types are increasing. The crimes which have increased overall over the past ten years are rape, aggravated assault, and shots fired. Given the serious nature of these crimes, they may be contributing to the fear of crime. However, none of these crimes were cited as a specific source of concern by residents. Steps to decrease these crimes should be a matter of priority for the area, in collaboration with the FWPD, the Center for Nonviolence, YWCA, and other agencies that address rape, aggravated assault, and shots fired.

Overall, the crime rate in the Historic Northeast area is decreasing. This is true for nonviolent, violent, and total crimes. While most residents feel safe in the area, there are some concerns about specific crime types. Burglary, vandalism, and assault, which are the greatest concern, have decreased in the past ten years. This reflects the fact that the fear of crime does not always match the rate of crime itself. However, the perception of safety has real world impacts on an area’s economics, resident behavior, and health. Additionally, a small number of crimes are increasing in the area. Further collaboration with FWPD and CPTED measures can decrease those few crimes which remain concerning and alleviate the fear of crime.