7 Fort Wayne Nicknames and the History Behind Them

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A building with a clock tower in the middle, near a tall white skyscraper and trees
While Fort Wayne might not be a popular destination, it has a few amusing nicknames

Although Fort Wayne is Indiana's second-largest city by population, not many people from outside the state know much about it. Luckily, one of the easiest ways to start to get to know this part of the Hoosier State is by learning about the different names the city has collected over the years.

While one of the more well-known monikers for Fort Wayne is Summit City, there are other nicknames you've probably never heard of. So, whether you're planning a trip to Fort Wayne or are just trying to increase your Indiana knowledge, keep reading. Below, you will find seven Fort Wayne nicknames and the tales behind them.

7 Nicknames for Fort Wayne

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The City of Churches is one of the Fort Wayne nicknames to know
Fort Wayne has had numerous religious institutions since the 1800s

The City of Churches

With over 360 churches within the city's limits, The City of Churches is an appropriate nickname for Fort Wayne. The nickname can be traced back to the late 1800s because, at that time, the area was home to three religious headquarters. The Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal religions all had their regional offices in Fort Wayne.

It's unclear if the number of churches present in the territory today were built due to this title or if it added to the inspiration behind the name. In any case, it's a moniker that's endured despite never quite gaining much popularity. In fact, today, it's mostly used in articles discussing religion in Fort Wayne, Indiana, or in conversations about the city in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way.

The City of Restaurants

While no one quite knows who coined the term, this part of Indiana has, over the years, become known as The City of Restaurants. Fort Wayne has hundreds of eateries, ranging from casual restaurants to fine dining options.

Downtown Fort Wayne, in particular, is home to a diverse selection of restaurants. It's even home to the locally famous Oyster Bar, which has been open since the 1880s.

This moniker is popular among foodies and restaurant owners in particular, so you'll find the nickname in food reviews and articles about the city's food options. However, it's not used in day-to-day conversations or on many souvenir items.

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A multi-arched dam with water going through it, near a gray rectangular building
The City of Three Rivers is a Fort Wayne moniker since 1969

The City of Three Rivers

Fort Wayne's moniker as The City of Three Rivers can be traced back to the days before Anthony Wayne originally settled it. Initially, the area was inhabited by indigenous tribes who chose this spot because it was the spot where three different rivers joined together. These three rivers are the St. Marys, the St. Joseph, and the Maumee.

Locals have thoroughly embraced this title, and since 1969, the city has hosted the Three Rivers Festival. It can also be found on souvenir items and in historical texts about the city. All of that makes this one of the most well-known nicknames for an Indiana territory.

The City That Saved Itself

Since the 1980s, The City That Saved Itself has been a locally-beloved Fort Wayne nickname. The moniker first began to spread in the aftermath of the 1982 flood that struck the city. After the winter's snow rapidly melted in March, water levels rose rapidly, causing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.

Since the flooding occurred so quickly, there was no time to wait for help from the other cities or the government. So, it was up to the local volunteers to minimize damage by stacking sandbags.

When President Reagan visited in the following weeks, he was so impressed with the efforts that he coined the term. Since then, it's been adopted by locals and used in numerous articles.

The Magnet Wire Capital of the World

Magnet wire is one of the most underrated inventions in the world. Often used in motors, these wires make magnetic energy out of electricity. Since it was used so much, numerous American factories popped up throughout the US to keep up with the demand for this type of wire.

Fort Wayne, in particular, was an industry hub. It was home to multiple company headquarters, rendering it responsible for most of the country's production.

For that reason, it soon became known as the Magnet Wire Capital of the World. This moniker didn't catch on with most residents, though. So, it's mostly just found in trivia or historical texts.

Aerial shot of a neighborhood with buildings and vast green parks near a brown river
Small City With a Big Future is one of the Fort Wayne nicknames to know

Small City With a Big Future

Small City With a Big Future is one of Fort Wayne's newest nicknames. The name was primarily popularized by Forbes Magazine in a 2020 article, which describes the city as having a mix of small-town and city appeal that can endure for decades.

From the large-scale events held at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to the works of art produced at Arts Campus Fort Wayne, this part of Indiana proves how multi-faceted it is. Locals have also embraced this nickname, though as of yet, that's mostly been through circulating the original article referencing it.

Summit City

People familiar with the Midwest might think Summit City should belong on a list of funny Fort Wayne nicknames. After all, this part of the US isn't known for its mountains. Like most names, though, it can be traced back to the area's history.

It's a well-known Indiana fact that the state is landlocked, so getting in and out of the territory requires slow land travel. To facilitate imports and exports and travel to other parts of the country, the Wabash and Erie Canal was built to create a waterway that passed through Fort Wayne.

Since this part of the canal had the highest elevation level of any of the route's cities, it was dubbed Summit City in the 1800s. From then on, the name has continued to gain popularity. It's regarded among locals as the area's official title and can be found on souvenir items and tourism information.

In Summary

From The City of Churches to The Magnet Wire Capital of the World, Fort Wayne has earned its fair share of interesting nicknames over the years. Hopefully, this list has helped you see that it's a multifaceted city. You might have even found a nickname or two you'd like to start using for Fort Wayne yourself!

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 FORMER WRITER Gabrielle loves all things travel and culture. She is originally from the USA, but she has lived in Italy for over a decade. She's always ready to pack her bags, grab her passport, and head out on an adventure!

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