West Central Neighborhood History
Although the West Central Neighborhood encompasses all of downtown Fort Wayne west of Calhoun Street, the heart of West Central is its residential area, the development of which began as early as the 1830s. Because of the historic and architectural significance of this area, the West Central Neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, with a smaller area designated a Fort Wayne Local Historic District in 1985.
In early West Central days, the neighborhood was inhabited primarily by the working class who walked to their nearby workplaces. As Fort Wayne grew throughout the nineteenth century and the local transportation system improved, the West Central Neighborhood became a favored area for the middle and upper classes as well. The original smaller, vernacular homes were replaced by larger homes designed in the fashionable architectural styles popular between 1830 and 1950.
The north side of the neighborhood along Berry and Wayne streets and West Washington Boulevard was where many of the city’s most prominent families built large, stylish homes.
On the south side situated between Jefferson Boulevard and the former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks exists a collection of modest, small-scale cottages arranged along narrow, tree-lined, brick streets. Many workers for the businesses and various industries stretching along the south side of the railroad corridor resided in this area. A similar residential area exists between the railroad tracks and Taylor Street.
The West Central Neighborhood also encompasses the Broadway business corridor. This major street developed into a busy commercial area serving the daily needs of the local residents. A wide variety of shops including groceries, bakeries, hardware stores, and milliners once lined the street.
The West Central Neighborhood was named the “Best Old House Neighborhood” in Indiana for 2010 by “This Old House” magazine.