First Street In Downtown Duluth, Circa 1960

Looking east down First Street in downtown Duluth from Fourth Avenue West, circa 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

This undated photo from the News Tribune files shows a glimpse of downtown Duluth from about 1960. (I’m not an expert on cars — so if the vehicles suggest a different date, please let me know)

The caption on the back of the photo says “one-way streets” – so perhaps the photo was taken soon after First Street was made one-way.

A lot of business signs are visible in the photo — click on it for a larger view. Using a 1963 city directory, here’s a rundown of some of the businesses on that block.

Starting in the foreground, on the left (north) side of the street:

  • Consolidated Printing and Engraving Co., 327 W. First St.
  • Forresters Hall at 325 W. First St., housing Duluth Paint & Glass Co., among other businesses
  • Buck Piano and Organ Co., 323 W. First St.
  • Stevens Hotel, 321 W. First St.
  • U.S. Post Office garage, 317 W. First St.
  • Pioneer Bowling Lanes, 315 W. First St.
  • Elks Club, 309 W. First St.
  • Board of Trade Building, 301-07 W. First St., housing (among other businesses and offices) the Board of Trade Smoke Shop, Yale Cleaners, the Board of Trade Barber Shop, Hanson’s Jewelry Shop, the American Red Cross Northland Chapter, the Board of Trade Coffee Shop and numerous grain and shipping-related offices and agencies. Trading floor on the eighth floor.
  • The tall building just beyond the Board of Trade, across Third Avenue West, is the Wolvin Building, now the Missabe Building.

Interestingly – and surprisingly – every building in this picture on that side of the street, from the foreground through at least the Wolvin Building, remains standing today. (The tallish office building in the distance, at 131 W. First St., also remains standing today, with altered windows). With so many buildings in downtown Duluth having been torn down in the 1960s and 1970s, that’s a rarity. The businesses may have all changed, but the buildings remain.

The other side of First Street is a different story – everything you see on the right edge of the photo is long-gone, having been replaced by what are now the CenturyLink, AT&T and YMCA buildings.

Here’s some of what existed on that block as of 1963 — you can see some of these businesses’ signs in the photo above. From the foreground, on the right (south) side of First Street:

  • Central Grill and Bar, 330 W. First St.
  • DeLuxe Cafe, 328 W. First St.
  • Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., 322 W. First St. (what I assume was a much-smaller building than the present-day telephone company structures)
  • Duluth Labor Temple Building, 320 W. First St., housing numerous union offices
  • The Dugout Tavern, 318 W. First St.
  • Kovero Jewelers, 316 W. First St.
  • Royal Garage, 314 1/2 W. First St.
  • Acme Key and Repair Shop, 314 W. First St.
  • Fashion Barber Shop, 314 W. First St.
  • Third Avenue West Auto Park, 302 W. First St.

Here’s an approximation of the same view today, Jan. 24, 2018:

First Street in downtown Duluth, looking east from Fourth Avenue West, Jan. 2018. (Andrew Krueger /

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