Monday, March 31, 2008

Historic Photos of Fort Wayne

A few months ago, I located a book that was very near and dear to me - John Ankenbruck's 1975 Twentieth Century History of Fort Wayne. When these limited edition books came out, my mother had purchased a handful of them for people like my grandparents and her sisters.

Sadly, our own copy was lost in that fire I just referred to in my last post. I never thought I would locate another copy. Thank gawd for eBay. Thank gawd for greedy re-sellers :).

P.S. I'd like to thank Judge Jackson for my Ankenbruck book - it was given to him (as inscribed on the inside cover) by Charlie Pratt, Christmas 1975.

What I loved so much about Ankenbruck's book, was the massive amounts of details about how Fort Wayne evolved from the beginning of time. In between the oodles of details, were informative pictures of our lovely city. They were all black and white and even in 1975 - when I would spend hours reading through this book - I was amazed at how much Fort Wayne had changed.
Truly, if you were ever going to build a Trivial Pursuit card game around the history of Fort Wayne, John's book would be the place I'd start!

Gosh - but I'm feeling really old right now!

One might think - okay - if I have Ankenbruck's book, what in the world does Bushnell's latest offer me?

Oh yes, it's a beautiful, coffee table-like publication. And I haven't seen a duplicate yet (of what was in Ankenbruck's gi-normous volume). That's cool.

But what really made this book stand out for me was Bushnell's approach of storytelling and then, the selection of photos he uses to support his style of relating the history of Fort Wayne to the reader.

You see, he doesn't bombard you with the Trivial Pursuit knowledge. (This is a good thing btw). Instead, he fluidly leads you through the significant periods of Fort Wayne's life and times.

The photographs (which cover the mid/late 1800's through the late 70's) were mesmerizing. For the most part, they were preserved and printed as is - and frankly - that's hugely amazing to me.

Side thought: I think that many of us have an appreciation for great photography. Is that an appreciation that these photographers (or picture-takers? or historic documenters?) had or is it just coincidence that they produced show-stopping images of our past?

My favorites (in case anyone is asking) are on pages 6 (St. Paul's Catholic Church), 28 (Lake Shore Hotel), 47 (Young Men on Bike's in Swinney Park), 66 (Alt Heidelberg Hotel and Cafe), 102/103 (Wayne Knitting Mills annual outing), 122/123 (Lady Wayne Chocolates League Team), 162 (G.C. Murphy's), and 195 (200 Block of Columbia Street).