One interesting fact about the population in Fort Wayne is that it has the largest population of Burmese Americans in the country. There are approximately 6,000 of these residents living in Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne is a religious center, known as the “City of Churches” because it is home to about 360 churches. Over half of city residents say that they are religious, with the majority following Catholicism.
Fort Wayne Population Growth
Fort Wayne has experienced rapid growth throughout its history, except a population decline recorded between the 1970 and 1980 censuses. The city has primarily seen population percentage increases in the double-digits, with growth between the last two censuses held in 2000 and 2010 reflecting a 23.3% increase. Since the previous poll was taken, the population has grown about 4.3%. Based on the city’s efforts to revitalize and expand, the current job opportunities available, and past population trends, it’s to be expected that Fort Wayne will continue to see continued growth and may soon hit the 300,000 resident milestone.
Fort Wayne was built by the US Army in 1794 and was named after statesman Anthony Wayne. The fort was incorporated as a town in 1829 and underwent growth following the completion of the canal and railroad. The population was just 300 when it was designated as a town, but this number jumped to over 2,000 when it was incorporated as a city only 11 years later.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Fort Wayne’s population had already reached 50,000, primarily due to the migration of German and Irish immigrants that came to work in industrial and railroad jobs. During this time, the economy of Fort Wayne was centered on manufacturing, and it was during this period that many new inventions and innovations came from the city, including gas pumps and the first home video game console.
The Great Depression affected Fort Wayne much like other cities in the US by displacing much of its factory workforce. However, just a few years later, over 7,000 people in Fort Wayne were employed to improve and develop local infrastructure. Following World War II, the city became prosperous again. The 1950s saw an expansion of the city through the development of thousands of homes and the city’s first bypass and arena. Construction continued through the 1960s to build out the rural areas.
The deindustrialization of the 1980s brought challenges to Fort Wayne, including the loss of manufacturing jobs and an increase in crime. The city was also hit by a flood in the early 1980s that displaced thousands and led to millions of dollars in damage. The next decade brought a period of revitalization for the city, with local officials working to reduce crime and redevelop the downtown area. By the end of the decade, the city had a much lower crime rate and a 2.5% unemployment rate.
The city continues to focus on redevelopment and growth. The city has renovated and expanded many of its buildings including the public library and its art museum. New renovations in recent years also include the opening of the Jefferson Pointe lifestyle center and the Parkview Regional Medical Center. Today, the city’s economy is no longer based around manufacturing but instead is centered on transportation and logistics, healthcare, financial services, distribution, and leisure and hospitality.