The Fort Wayne Park and Boulevard System was significantly shaped by landscape architects George Kessler, Arthur Shurcliff, and Adolph Jaenicke. Two successive presidents of the independent Board of Park Commissioners, Colonel David Foster and Fred Shoaff, ensured that the combined vision of these designers developed into the 1960s by influencing the selection of landscape architects in both the public and private realms.
George Kessler’s 1912 master plan organized and expanded upon the city’s urban landscape, incorporating the three rivers that converge in Fort Wayne and connecting existing parks with new boulevards and parks, providing incentive for residential and commercial development. Kessler also designed Rudisill Boulevard, created a plan for Lakeside Park, and designed several features in existing parks.
Beginning in 1916, Arthur Shurcliff designed several parks, parkways, and boulevards, and surveyed the parks in 1928. He also designed three subdivisions during this time, and Shoaff Park in 1956.
Adolph Jaenicke, Superintendent of Parks from 1917 until 1948, created elaborate amenities and gardens in many of the parks, including the Memorial Grove in Memorial Park, the sunken Rose Garden in Lakeside Park, and the extensive Japanese Gardens in Swinney Park.
In recent years, community and riverfront linkages have been bolstered with the addition of Rivergreenway paths and the completion of Headwaters Park in 1996, which realizes Kessler’s original plan for a downtown park.