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Allen County Public Library Block 1918
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
This 1918 Sanborn Insurance Map of the block bounded by W. Wayne, Webster, W. Washington and Ewing streets today is now given over in its entirely to the main Allen County Public Library (ACPL). Additionally, the block of Webster Street shown on the map is now Library Plaza, and no longer a thoroughfare from Washington to Wayne streets.
When this map was drawn, the block was mostly houses, with both the main library, and the Young Woman’s Christian Association (YWCA) building on West Wayne Street, facing north and just west of Webster. The main ACPL, which had been a gift from industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1904, was razed in 1965 to construct a larger modern main library, completed in 1968. The YWCA constructed in 1913, was then leveled in 1977 for the expansion of the aforementioned 1968 library, and the YWCA moved their operations to the former St. Vincent’s Villa orphanage on Wells Street. The library expansion which had begun in 1977 was then finished in January of 1981. A still further expansion, which is reflected in today’s beautiful downtown library, was completed in 2007.
About the map: Sanborn Map Company began drawing fire insurance maps in 1866 for use by insurance companies when determining policy rates. These maps, of over 12,000 North American cities, were painstakingly drawn 50’ to the inch on 21” x 25” sheets of heavy stock paper and bound in large folios. While working with them online takes a little getting used to, individual Fort Wayne Sanborn Map pages are downloadable for the years 1890, 1902 and 1918 at https://libraries.indiana.edu/union-list-sanborn-maps . Our downtown library has a set of the original large Fort Wayne folios, but as they are oversized and fragile, they do not have normal public access. However, they are easily accessible on microfilm in the Genealogy Department. (Map courtesy Indiana University, photos the ACPL.)
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, author, and the history/architecture guide for Fort Wayne Food Tours.