Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Greyhound Union Bus Terminal

Greyhound Union Bus Terminal
Jefferson Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Photo Credit: Postcard from mid 60's

There was a short period of time when my grandparents lived away from us - in Jackson, Michigan. I don't know the exact dates however, sometime in the early 70's rings a bell for me.

I remember the economy not being all that good and my grandparents moved out of town for some job that Grandpa had accepted at a place called the Wayne Box Company (?).

Since neither one of them could drive, they would take the Greyhound Bus to Fort Wayne and I would ride along with my mom and dad to pick them up

The Greyhound Bus Station was gorgeous...its 1940's art deco architecture was quite unique - but as a child who was probably 6 or 7 years old at the time when I visited the place the most - I took its beauty for granted. Located on Berry Street, the Bus Station was a cool place for a kid like me to hang out.

If I could cajole some loose change from my parents, I would sit on the plastic chairs with those tiny television attached and carefully place my coins inside the silver turnstyle - full of anticipation for when the television would magically turn on.

The television stations were of course - the same ones we got at home (15,21, and 33) but being able to have it there...attached to a public chair - WOW! What a huge treat for a kid!!! Sure, you had to click on dial but you had to do that at home too. And sure, it only stayed on for about 20-30 minutes but hey, that was okay too.

When we didn't have the change to watch the televisions, my sister and I would run up and down the stairs, chasing each other across the open areas of the terminal. There was lots of echo to be had and in place that didn't frown on loud noises, it was nice to be able to yell, hear your voice bounceback - and all - in the presence of your parents who didn't yell at you for it.

As each bus would arrive, a voice would come over the loud speaker announcing its presence.

I loved looking at the buses. They weren't like the ones that we rode to school in.

These were HUGE. If you were sitting in one, it was like sitting on top of the world. The buses (which I would ride myself a few times in the 70's and even twice in the 80's), were air conditioned... HUGE DEAL to us chicks who didn't have air conditioning in either our parents cars or houses. There was also a bathroom too!

The buses would pull up in a diagnoal direction and when their grand doors opened, it was a spectacular event.

The driver, all dressed in his crisp uniform, would exit the bus and proceed to the side (opening up one of the silver side doors where additional luggage was stored) as the passengers would step down to greet their family members.

My grandparents were always towards the front - I guess - so they could stay away from any of the riff raff :). It never got old seeing them step down from those bus stairs. I would run into the arms of my grandma - who always smelled like ivory soap. Her skin was soooo soft and her hair was red and shiny.My grandpa always smelled like his cigars (which in a bizarre twist - I never minded - in fact - I came to like the scent very much). He would always give me a quick squeeze but he knew that I was grandma's girl and that she and I had some very serious hugging to do (which we proceeded to do - in the car - on the way home - I sat on her lap).

My grandparents would stay at our house for about five days at a time. Eventually though, they had to return and the trip back to the big blue building on Jefferson Street was something I never looked forward to. Saying goodbye was hard hard hard.


So as many of you know, the Greyhound Union Bus Terminal in Fort Wayne, Indiana no longer exists.

It was torn down in the 80's (had sat vacant for years prior) to make way for new construction efforts.

It's sad that a building which held so many memories for so many families in Fort Wayne - fell by the way side - and was scrapped for new construction. If it had only fallen under the historical society like the baker street depot - wow - we might have something cool - a restaurant - some other entertainment facility within those art deco walls today.

Greyhound relocated to a different facility - to an old gas station facility located at the corner of Berry and Clay (across from City Glass?).


boileraae said...

Just a couple of corrections:

1) The old greyhound station was located on Jefferson on the site that is now being turned into Harrison Square. I thought it was a shame that they tore it down, I seem to remember it being the "winner" on the public survey of which Fort Wayne eyesore should be eradicated that was conducted by a local TV station (I want to say channel 15, but don't remember). I was shocked, because it was most certainly not an eyesore.... it just needed a tenant. I too felt that a bar/restaurant would have made a good occupant.

2) The new Greyhound bus station was/is located on the corner of Washington and Lafayette. What a vanilla looking building compared to it's former location.

Thanks for posting this, I really enjoy your blog. I believe I'm just a few years younger than you, but you've triggered many of my memories of the past that had gotten buried over the years!

Kristina said...

Hi Boileraae,

I *thought* it might be on Jefferson but when I went to the book - Twentieth Century History of Fort Wayne (by John Ankenbruck), he references the Greyhound Bus Terminal being on Berry Street (pg. 289). He lists it as being on Berry along with B.J. Duesler Music House, Art Mosiac & Tile Co, and Getz and Cahill Undertakers.

boileraae said...

Well, obviously Mr. Ankenbruck is wrong! :) Seeing how the Indiana Hotel (and Embassy Theatre) is clearly visible down the block, there is no question this building was on Jefferson.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the old Greyhound was on Jefferson next to the downtown Belmont Beverage where I used to work. It was in poor shape and had been taken over by the local homeless population when it was torn down in the mid 90's. We got a call late in the afternoon on a Friday asking us to keep the delivery vehicles away from it as it was coming down at 6am Saturday morning. The owners waited as late as possible on that Friday to file for the demolition permit as they new most people were gone for the day and nobody would catch what was happening until it was too late. I imagine if it were still there and declared a historic structure then the Harrison Square project and the new hotel for the convention center would not have happenned.

Bobby G. said...

Bus terminals in the past had an allure (albeit smaller in nature) comparable train stations.
he buildings were "of the era", and were comgortable in their own way.

The structure that passes for a bus terminal TODAY in the Fort is someplace I wouldn't recommend on your "walking tour" of the city. From what I've heard, it's got roaches running around in broad daylight, and is "home" to people we could only call "sidewhow freaks".

God, how I miss those days of yesteryear!
When even a bus ride was "an adventure", instead of a chore.

Great post -nice photos.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable!! thank you so much for the photos & info. I was in Ft. Wayne today looking for that old bus terminal.
Long story short: I was 19 in 1968 and decided to hitchhike cross country (wound up in san francisco) from Detroit. At the end of my first day, I dragged my butt into Ft W and somehow found the bus station. I stayed there all night, pretending I was waiting for a bus to arrive, and caught much-needed naps when I could. I don't remember any tvs but it was like a small waiting room with tables and a cashier for coffee & snacks.
Today, neither the Info office nor the Historical Society could agree on where it was exactly, but it was surely gone.
Until I saw your article/photos I had FORGOTTEN that it was blue & grey brick. I love old architecture and that station truly was a work of art. Oh, to have one of those blue bricks today!
Thanks again. Lane

Eric said...

Ran across your blog today. In 2013 the station moved to Harrison/Calhoun streets in conjunction with Citilink - correct me if I am wrong.
As of May 30th 2014, the 2nd location that was at the corner of East Washington and Lafayette Streets has been torn down and is now all gravel lot. The tanks from the old gas station from many many years ago were just removed in 2014. I work at Shilling Sales, Inc, which is located on E Wayne Street the station was located behind our 2 buildings.

christopherworth13 said...

I remember in the early 90's they used the bus terminal around the Halloween season for the "Haunted Bus Station." I don't remember how many years that they did this, but I do remember it being one of the scariest 'haunted houses' I had been to. That may have been due to my age (middle school), but I have vivid memories of it. I also remember the "Haunted Armory" which was on Clinton St, I believe. I worked that one for a service project in high school (mid 90's). I think it was for South Side's Key Club. That's another neat old building that was torn down for another project. I wish I remembered exactly where that building was... I keep thinking it was on Clinton, where Headwaters Park West is now located, next to the jail. Remember these?