President Kennedy In Duluth, 1963

Sept. 24, 1963


President John F. Kennedy greets admirers during a visit to Duluth in this Sept. 24, 1963, photo. (File / News Tribune)

President John F. Kennedy visited Duluth in September 1963, less than two months before he was assassinated.

Kennedy, who also appeared in the Northland as a presidential candidate in 1960, gave a speech during the Northern Great Lakes Region Conference of Land and People at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 1963. Here’s an excerpt from the full prepared-text address that appeared in the News Tribune in 1963:

"The northern Great Lakes region has the land, the water, the skilled manpower, the resources and the transportation and recreation facilities to make it one of the country’s most prosperous areas. Yet the unemployment rate in this area is roughly twice that of the nation as a whole — which is itself too high. The economy of a region that should be prospering has reflected instead a series of economic setbacks, as mines and mills shut down or curtailed their operation. Year after year, this area has had the short end of every economic indicator."

Sept. 25, 1963


President Kennedy (back to camera) shakes hands with a woman in Duluth (1963 file / Duluth Herald)


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9 Responses

  1. Jim Andrews

    I was stationed at Duluth AFB on Sep. 24, 1963, the day JFK came. A few of us had just gotten off duty at 4:00 PM on that blustery day. We decided to go to the flight-line to try to catch a glimpse of him. Air Force One was there but he was not. JFK was off visiting elsewhere. Then a couple of helicopters roared in with him on one of them.
    He got into his limo and went downtown. He had the bullet-proof bubble top up, wish he had kept it up in Dallas.

  2. David Shehorn

    As I recall, at Duluth Air Force Base, President Kennedy’s speech included the remark, “We are asking you to go faster, further and higher than man has gone before.” I was one of few airmen who saluted the President in my area, many were reaching out to shake his hand. I held a camera in my left hand, saluted with my right hand. I got a smile and a salute with that picture, and he hesitated just long enough for me to squeeze into the front row to get a handshake — not a full handshake, but a glancing touch. A touch that lingers to this day, more than 50 years past.

  3. Morris

    I had just turned six and remember going with my family to greet the President’s plane; my Dad was the base commander at Duluth. It was a big thrill for me to get to see President Kennedy from a few feet away!

  4. Scooder

    I was there when Kennedy was in Duluth. I was working at the Dugar Music Store at the time. And he passed in front of the store and waved at me. I must have been waving really hard for him to notice!

  5. Nancy Gaber

    I saw Kennedy when he was in Duluth, he was riding on the back of the convertible just like he was in Dallas 2 months later. I held my youngest sister up so she could wave to him also. He stayed at the old Hotel Duluth , I understand on the 14th floor. I will never forget that day, or the day we heard of the assassination.

  6. I remember seeing the motorcade near hotel Duluth. He had on a grayish suit and looked like royalty in my eyes. I remember it as an open air motorcade. There were men on top of the hotel, presumably secret service.

  7. John Verrill

    In 1960 when he came I was 6 years old and I got to shake JFK’s hand. I also was born on his birthday, May 29th. I will always see him as a great man.

  8. My Husband was stationed at Duluth Air Force Base Sept. and was evacuated when President Kennedy came to Duluth. I was standing along Main St. when his motorcade came through. I could almost reach out and touch. Mary G.

  9. dc

    I remember his visit. I stood along the access road to the airport with my Mom, Dad, brother and sister. It was a chilly day, and all we saw after a pretty long wait was a fleeting glimpse of the President as he drove by in the limo. In September of 1963 I was 10 years old.

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