News Tribune Attic Mystery: When Was This Photo Taken?

Ray’s West End Tavern at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and West Superior Street in Duluth, date unknown

Do you know when this photo was taken?

We know where it was taken — the corner of West Superior Street, Piedmont Avenue and Garfield Avenue. This view is looking north; today the buildings are gone, and it’s a vacant lot. The site is slated to become the home of Garfield Square, a $13.4 million, 50-unit apartment building that should begin construction later this year.

The folder this photo was stored in suggests that it might be from 1965, but the photo itself carries no date. The “Fitger’s Beer” signs in the window put the date sometime before 1972, when that brewery closed.

Often when trying to date an old photo, I look at cars — but there are none in this image. And old city directories from the 1960s and early 1970s don’t list a Ray’s West End Tavern at that location — though a few list a “Collins Tavern” (perhaps a previous occupant of that space?)

If you have any information or memories about Ray’s West End Tavern, post a comment.

Here’s a zoomed-in view of the beer signs:

And here’s how that site looks today:

5 Responses

  1. Jimmy Saranpaa

    I rember the place. They also sponsored stock cars that ran at Hibbing, Proctor and Suoerior Speedways.

  2. T Norton

    I can’t help much with the date of the Ray’s Tavern photo, but I think these buildings (the tavern and the junk shop next door) were destroyed in the first half of the 60’s by a runaway grain truck. Back then, large trucks were still permitted to descend the hill on Piedmont Avenue. A descending semi with a load of grain bound for the harbor lost it’s brakes on the hill. By the time it neared Superior Street, it was traveling far too fast to make the corner onto Garfield and plowed into the buildings there.
    Soon after this, large trucks were banned from going down the hill on Piedmont.
    Back in those days, runaway trucks were not all that unusual an occurrence on the hills.
    Not long after, another truck lost its brakes coming down the hill on Cody Street in West Duluth (before the freeway was built, Cody was US Hwy 61). This truck plowed right through a home on the north side of Cody around 60th or 61st Ave. W. I believe a life was lost in the home.

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