Library staff member, Gina Temple-Rhodes, digs into the history of the new Duluth Folk School building at 1917 W Superior Street and explores our fascination with local history in this blog post she wrote for Perfect Duluth Day. The Duluth Public Library thanks Gina for her permission to re-post the article here.
In June 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization. They worked together to write the United Nations Charter, which the conference members approved on June 25, and on June 26, 1945, in a ceremony at the Veterans Building, all 50 representatives signed the Charter. Then, when the Charter was ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries on October 24, 1945, the United Nations (then known as the United Nations Organization or UNO) officially came into existence. Continue reading
The invention of moving walkways or sidewalks dates back to the late 1800s. An inventor named Albert Speer of New Jersey received the first patent for an “Endless-Traveling Sidewalk” in 1871. Speer planned to revolutionize transportation in New York City, but his idea was never adopted.
It wasn’t until the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that one was built in the U.S. Continue reading
The Duluth Daily News of March 30, 1892, printed a letter offering an unpublished poem by Walt Whitman. The letter writer claims that Whitman had visited Duluth for his health the previous summer and had been so impressed with the Zenith City that he wrote a poem in praise of Duluth and had sent it to a friend in town. The poem, simply titled “Duluth,” follows:
As World War II continued into 1943, some U.S. industries were experiencing shortages of workers. In Minnesota, the pinch was felt especially acutely in agriculture, food processing, and logging. Women and even children often stepped up to help with the labor shortage in agriculture and food processing. One notable local example was 17-year-old Duluthian Shirley Armstrong, who appeared on the cover of the September 27, 1943, issue of Life magazine because she was working in corn fields near Fairmont, Minnesota. She and several other young women from Duluth were featured in an article about the Women’s Land Army.
Users of early elevators were responsible for opening and closing the doors manually, and sometimes the doors were left open, creating a hazardous situation with the shaft exposed. As Andreas Bernard writes in his 2006 history of elevators:
. . .in the 1880s, manually operated or hinged doors. . .on each floor still frequently misled careless passengers wishing to enter the cab into opening them and falling into the shaft. (Andreas Barnard, Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator, p.31)
Duluthian Alexander Miles helped solve this problem by inventing an improved mechanism for opening and closing elevator doors when the car arrives at or departs the floor. This is just one accomplishment of this successful and creative businessman who lived in Duluth in the late 1800s and was thought at the time to be the wealthiest black man in the Midwest.
Following the 1926 baseball season, in which the New York Yankees won the American League pennant and lost the World Series in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals, Yankee slugger Babe Ruth went on a twelve-week vaudeville tour. The tour started in Minneapolis, and the next stop was Duluth. Ruth arrived in Duluth early on the morning of Saturday, November 6, 1926, and attended a breakfast in his honor at Hotel Duluth. He was greeted by Mayor Samuel F. Snively, Police Chief E.H. Barber, and Ruth’s friend, Superior resident, and player-manager of the Boston Braves Dave Bancroft.
At 10:30 that morning, Ruth appeared for about 2,000 young fans from the Twin Ports at the Lyric Theater, 213 West Superior Street, in a program sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune. He told them stories of his baseball career, gave them the inside picture of the life of a big league ball player, and passed out fifteen autographed baseballs—maybe some Twin Ports resident still has his or her autographed ball?
On Saturday afternoon, Ruth did the first of four performances for adults at the Lyric—2:30, 4:30, 7:10, and 9:20. He repeated the four performances on Sunday, his last day in Duluth. His vaudeville act usually consisted of him telling stories about his career with the Yankees.
The next day, Ruth reportedly went duck hunting in northern Minnesota with three friends from the Detroit Tigers—outfielders Harry Heilman and Heinie Manush, and Tigers manager George Moriarity. He then continued his vaudeville tour in Fargo, ND.
At one time, you could find a corner store in just about any Duluth neighborhood. The 1973 Duluth City Directory lists 69 stores under the Groceries and Meats—Retail heading. The list includes a few large chain markets like Super Valu, National Food Stores, and Piggly Wiggly, but the vast majority at that time was one-of-a-kind family owned neighborhood shops. From east to west, smaller markets like Tonkin’s Grocery, London Road Market, Taran’s Food Market, Seventh Street Groceries, Plets Grocery, Tony’s Market, Ideal Market, and Mac’s Grocery dotted the map.
Historical Duluth documents from the Duluth Public Library’s Duluth Collection, including atlases, maps, and books, are now included in the Minnesota Digital Library’s Minnesota Reflections web site. Below are a few sample images.
The entire collection can be viewed at: http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16022coll6
Clinton Francis Russell was born in Duluth on October 8, 1895. His parents were Newell F. Russell and Isabelle J. Russell. Newell was born on a farm near Rush City, Minnesota, on July 16, 1869, and moved to the Duluth area in 1888. In that year, he founded, along with Henry Bridgeman, the Bridgeman-Russell Co. Isabelle came to Duluth from Michigan about 1890 and she and Newell were married in November of 1891. They had three children–Earl C., Clinton F., and Myrtle. They lived at several addresses in Duluth–309 Mesaba Avenue, 453 Mesaba Avenue (Munger Terrace), 5518 London Road, and 4440 London Road.
Clinton attended public elementary schools in Duluth and Duluth Central High School. In 1916, he began studies at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. At the outbreak of World War I, Clinton enlisted in the Army. Following the war, he returned to Syracuse to resume his studies. Clinton married Marion Ruth Jones, who went by Ruth, in Port Byron, New York, in 1920. They moved to Duluth and lived at 2132 East Fifth Street. Clinton worked at various jobs for the Bridgeman-Russell Co.
Clinton lost his sight around 1924 in an accident in which an automobile tire exploded in his face as he was repairing it. He didn’t play golf for several years after the accident, but tried it again when he was visiting relatives in California. He began playing at Ridgeview Country Club in Duluth and started taking lessons from the pro, Sammy Belfore. He began to count on his caddy teeing up the ball, adjusting his stance for direction, and lining up the club face. Some of his caddies at Ridgeview were Jim Koehler Sr., Dick Kohlbry, Bruce Schwartz, Jerry Weld, and Bob Hammerstrom.
Check out the review of Forgotten Duluthians on Jim Heffernan’s blog at:
Forgotten Duluthians, a 2010 NEMBA nominee, was written by David Ouse, the library’s manager of reference services. The book profiles 39 people from Duluth, and their accomplishments. Included are actors and actresses, dancers, philosophers, writers, space scientists, diplomats, artists, Garfield the Cat (voice of), and Joe DiMaggio’s first wife.
Forgotten Duluthians is available for purchase at the Main Library Circulation Desk, and at both branch libraries. The cost is $14.95 plus tax. The book can also be purchased on the library website through the Gift Shop. All proceeds from sales go to the library.
Sidney Robert Buchman (shown here in 1919) was born on March 27, 1902, in Duluth. His parents were Robert Buchman and Sarah (Zalk) Buchman. Robert was born in Russia in 1874, immigrated to the U.S., and settled in Duluth around 1895. He worked as a clothing merchant and for a while owned his own store, Buchman and Josephs, at 116 West Superior Street. On February 20, 1898, he married Sarah Zalk in a wedding ceremony in the large second-floor hall in the Kalamazoo Building at 18 West Superior Street in Duluth. As the Duluth News Tribune related the next day, “seldom if ever before in the history of Duluth has there been a larger attendance at a Jewish wedding.” Mayor Truelsen was one of the 200 guests and gave a speech congratulating the new couple. Sarah Zalk was the daughter of Max Zalk, who was born in Poland and moved to Duluth in 1884. He was president of the Duluth Iron & Metal Co.
Robert and Sarah lived at 502 East First Street, later moving for a while to Superior, Wisconsin, and then back to Duluth in homes at 421 First Avenue West, 120 East Fourth Street, and finally building their own brick home at 110 West Fifth Street. Robert continued to work in retail clothing sales but eventually took a job in his father-in-law’s metal business. They had four children: Moses, born on March 22, 1900; Sidney; Marian, born on February 13, 1910; and Harold, born on June 24, 1912. Sidney apparently had a typical childhood and earned money with a paper route in the Central Hillside. He later complimented the area, saying that he hadn’t realized that he had “grown up in one of the real melting pots of the world” that demonstrated “complete race harmony.” Sidney was a popular and successful student at Central High School. He was active as an athlete, participating on the football and track teams and serving as captain of the basketball team in his senior year. He also was sports editor of the school newspaper and business manager of the senior class play, and he won the Wallace Cup for oratory in his junior year. Sidney graduated from Central in 1919 and was chosen to be a commencement speaker. From high school, Sidney went on to the University of Minnesota, enrolling in the pre-med program. He left the Twin Cities after a year of studies, however. His parents and siblings moved to New York City in October of 1919, and Sidney moved there in 1920, enrolling at Columbia University where he later received his degree. After graduating, Sidney traveled to England in February of 1924 to study at Oxford. He left Oxford after a few weeks, later referring to the rigid caste system of the English university. He traveled for a while in France and Italy, worked at the Old Vic Theatre in London, and then returned to New York City. For the next eight years he worked as a playwright in New York and had two plays produced—This One Man and Storm Song. Continue reading
Duluth’s Enger Municipal Golf Course opened on July 2, 1927. The course was named for Bert J. Enger, who donated $50,000 to the city for the development of park and recreational facilities. The original course was nine holes, but a second nine was added within a couple of years. In addition to speeches, the dedication ceremonies featured an 18-hole medal tournament and driving contests for both men and women. Judge Clarence R. Magney, the former mayor, drove the first ball from the No. 1 tee.
With the impending visit to Duluth of Norway’s King Harald V this October, and the plans for a rededication of Enger Tower at the same time, we wanted to show the program from the original dedication of Enger Tower on June 15, 1939.
Norway’s Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha (Harald’s parents) arrived in Duluth in the afternoon to dedicate the tower. After his address, in which he honored Bert J. Enger for his generous gifts to the city, the Prince unveiled a plaque to be affixed to the tower which read:
Enger Observation Tower
To the memory of Bert J. Enger
Native of Norway
Citizen of Duluth
It was estimated by the Duluth Herald that 5,000 people attended the ceremony. Afterwards, people were allowed to enter and inspect the tower.
Click on the images of the program below to enlarge.
Local news from 20 and 40 years ago from the Duluth News-Tribune. This column appears daily Monday through Saturday in the Duluth News-Tribune. Researched and written by the Reference Staff at the Duluth Public Library.
June 12, 1967
Gov. Harold E. LeVander has announced the appointment of Jack B. Arnold of Duluth as the governor’s representative to the newly created Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission. The commission was formed to aid the economic development of the region.
Fairmount Park will be the site of the annual school patrol picnic tomorrow morning. Duluth police patrolman William Kehoe, head of the school patrol program, said the day’s highlight will be the awarding of bicycles to a boy and girl.
June 12, 1987
All 95 tickets for the Concorde jetliner’s July 26 90-minute sightseeing flight over Lake Superior and Canada have been sold, according to Dan Russell, executive director of the Duluth Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. The tickets cost $675 each.
Members of the Rotary Club of Duluth voted yesterday to allow women to join the organization. Club President Dave Allison refused to disclose the exact count but said many more than a two-thirds majority of “yes” votes were cast.