Aerial views of Duluth

Old aerial photos always offer a lot of interesting opportunities to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. Here are a few aerial photos of Duluth from the early 2000s, from the News Tribune archives. Click on the images for a larger view:

This photo from October 2003 shows the area just east of downtown Duluth, prior to major expansion by what is now Essentia Health, and also before construction of the Sheraton Hotel. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

The reconstruction of Piedmont Avenue is under way in this view from June 2004. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

An aerial view over downtown Duluth and the Central Hillside in June 2002. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

A view of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in August 2003, before the addition of the Duluth 10 movie theater, Amsoil Arena and an additional parking structure. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

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Photo of Downtown Duluth, October 1966

This photo of downtown Duluth and the Hillside, taken by News Tribune photographer Earl Johnson, is dated Oct. 11, 1966. This pre-dates construction of the new Central High School atop the hill, and it’s interesting how sparse that upper hillside looks in this photo.

Click on the photo to view a much larger version, in which much more detail is visible…

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Odds and ends old photos of Duluth

Here are some random old photos of Duluth from the News Tribune files that I just don’t have enough information about to build an entire post for each. So I’ll assemble them here (click on the photos for a larger view)…

Gowan-Peyton-Twohy Co. and other businesses and warehouses at the foot of Fifth Avenue West in Duluth, circa 1900, near where the Great Lakes Aquarium stands today. There are quite a few posters hanging on those low buildings to the left. Using a magnifying glass, I was able to (I think) read only one of them…

In the middle of this zoomed-in view is a poster showing a large horseshoe and (again, I think) the brand name Nev-R-Slip Shoes.


This postcard view of the Duluth Ship Canal, circa 1902, predates construction of the Aerial Ferry Bridge.


This photo is a copy of a copy (of a copy?) and is labeled “1873 – above Fourth Street.” It’s looking east toward Lake Superior. Here’s a slightly more-zoomed-in view:

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Jim’s Hamburgers, 1980

This Attic entry originally was posted in August 2008; I’m posting it again after seeing on the Perfect Duluth Day website that the last Jim’s Hamburgers location, on Superior Street in the West End, apparently has closed.

While apparently there is no absolute confirmation the cafe is closed for good, the windows are papered over. When I tried its last listed phone number, it had been disconnected.

So, for anyone who didn’t see this post the first time around, here’s a look back at Jim’s Hamburgers restaurants in Duluth:

November 27, 1980

Jim’s Hamburgers is crowded every day, so Jim and Jay Overlie stay open on Thanksgiving. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)



Time was, Jim’s Hamburgers was about the only place open on Thanksgiving. Jim Overlie kept his restaurants open on the holiday pretty much to serve his regular customers and anyone else passing through town – those with no place else to go.

There wasn’t any turkey and dressing, but the hamburgers and hotcakes were abundant.

Times have changed. Businesses have come and gone; buses that once brought hungry travelers downtown now arrive in western Duluth. And places like senior citizen centers offer hot holiday meals to the elderly.

But Jim’s Hamburgers still is open on Thanksgiving – as well as Christmas.

It’s a tradition that started in 1937, when Overlie first went into business. He worried about his regular customers, many old and without families, and about where they would eat holiday meals like Thanksgiving dinner.

“I always worked on the theory ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ ” Overlie, now retired, says. “A lot of our regular customers were retired people who didn’t have facilities to cook. People were good enough to give us their business all year around,” so Overlie figured he’d make sure those same people had someplace to eat on Thanksgiving.

Holiday business was a family project. Overlie’s son, Jay, who manages the four Jim’s Hamburgers restaurants, two on West Superior Street, one on East Fourth and the other at 502 E. First St., started working holidays as a boy.

“My daughter and son always came down on holidays,” Overlie says. “They’d rather come down at Christmas than stay home. They got greater satisfaction doing that than unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree.”

Waitresses would make cookies for some of their favorite customers and the elderly diners often would reciprocate with gift boxes of candy.

At one time, Christmas Eve was the busiest night of the year at Jim’s. Worshippers from nearby churches came in for after-service meals and last-minute shoppers thronged the place.

Jay Overlie stands in front of the Jim’s Hamburgers restaurant on West First Street. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)


Jim’s Thanksgiving business has dropped off a bit. “There’s a few you always get, but it’s not like it used to be,” Jim Overlie said.

But the restaurants stay open on the holidays.

“It’s a hard thing to put in words,” Jay said. “It’s more of an obligation where customers appreciate the fact you’re interested in them, too.

“The customers recognize each other. They don’t always talk, but when one is missing, they notice. They care about one another.”

Even though he no longer works day-to-day in his restaurants, the elder Overlie expects to drop in at the three restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving (the store at 414 W. Superior will be closed).

According to a News-Tribune article from April 1982, the Jim’s Hamburgers location at 414 W. Superior St. was sold off that month and became a restaurant called Bragg’s. That left three Jim’s Hamburgers locations – 502 E. Fourth St., 2005 W. Superior St. and 205 W. First St.

On June 10, 1995, the News Tribune carried news that the original Jim’s Hamburgers location, the one on First Street, had just closed. Jim Overlie had sold his restaurants in 1985. New owner Dick Christensen said the cost of required health and fire code improvements were too high at the First Street restaurant, which seated 14 at the counter and 24 in the booths, and which in its earliest days was called the Blue and White Restaurant.

At the time, Christensen also owned the Jim’s Hamburgers locations on Fourth Street and in the West End on Superior Street. Here is a photo of the Fourth Street location from December 1996:

And here is a photo of the West End location from February 2001, when its owners were fighting the city smoking ban:

The East Fourth Street Jim’s Hamburgers location now is home to Quizno’s sandwich shop, which opened in April 2006 (though Jim’s Hamburgers is still listed in the phone book at that address). That left the West End location of Jim’s Hamburgers as the only one still in business in August 2008 when this post was first written. It remained open in early 2011 (the last time I was in there), but as of February 2012 appears to have closed.

Looking back at Duluth Central High School

Sunday’s News Tribune features a story looking back at the history of Duluth Central High School, which will close this year after nearly 120 years of classes and memories at two locations.

The first Central opened in 1892 in the downtown building now known as Old Central High School, with its landmark clock tower. In 1971, Central students moved up the hill to the present location, with one of the best views in town.

Central High School has been featured a few times in the Attic; here are some of those posts:

Ceiling collapses at Central, 1963

Building new Central High, 1971

Driver’s ed at Central High, 1971

Longtime Central teacher and coach John Swain, 1969

Here is a gallery of more Central High School photos not previously featured in the Attic; click on the photos for a larger version….

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Last Union Civil War vet dies in Duluth, 1956

A few hours ago, the Associated Press reported that Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, died at age 110. You can find more information here.

That sparked memories of Duluth’s own “last veteran” – in our case, it was Albert Woolson, the last surviving Union veteran of the Civil War, who died in Duluth on August 2, 1956, at age 109.

There are a lot of stories and photos of Woolson in the News Tribune archives; some of those items are included below. Unfortunately, many of the photos are lacking specific dates and caption information, but most are from the 1950s.

Duluth resident Albert Woolson, the last surviving Union veteran of the Civil War, circa early 1950s. (News Tribune file photo)


Last survivor of Union army succumbs at 109

Duluth News-Tribune, Aug. 3, 1956

Albert Woolson died quietly in his sleep yesterday, and an era died with him.

As a final salute to the last man of the Civil War’s Union army, national figures will meet in Duluth Monday at his funeral.

His passing brought a flood of regrets, from the President of the United States to the nurse who tended him at St. Luke’s hospital.

Funeral services for the 109-year-old veteran will be held at 2 p.m. Monday in the Duluth National Guard armory. …

Mr. Woolson died at 9:45 a.m. after lying in a semi-coma since last Saturday. Members of his family were at the bedside when death came.

In Washington, D.C., President Eisenhower, who always sent greetings to Mr. Woolson on his birthday, said the old soldier’s death “brings sorrow to the hearts” of Americans.

In a statement, the President said:

“The American people have lost the last personal link with the union army.

“His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the War Between the States.” …

Mr. Woolson’s funeral procession will consist of 109 Army National Guardsmen, one for each of his years of life. … Burial will be in Park Hill cemetery.

Albert Woolson (center) at a ceremony in front of the St. Louis County Courthouse, circa early 1950s. (News Tribune file photo)


Schoolchildren gather to greet Albert Woolson of Duluth, the last surviving Union veteran of the Civil War, circa early 1950s. (News-Tribune file photo)

Woolson was a celebrity of sorts during his final years. A special News-Tribune history issue published in 1970 contained this retrospective of Woolson’s life:


Nine years before Duluth was platted as a village, a boy was born in Watertown, N.Y., who later became the most famous war veteran of the future city at the Head of the Lakes.

When he died Aug. 2, 1956, Duluth and the nation lost a symbol of more than a century of Americans.

Albert Woolson, born Feb. 11, 1847, was the last of more than 2.6 million Boys in Blue who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Thousands mourned his passing, and his funeral was attended by high government and military officials. More than 1,500 attended last rites in the Duluth Armory, thousands lined the route of the four-mile procession to Park Hill Cemetery, and 2,000 bowed their heads at the sound of the bugle’s final “Taps.”

Woolson’s father was a cabinet maker, painter, builder of fine furniture and a musician. A soldier in the Union Army, he was injured in the battle of Shiloh in 1862. He was mustered out of service and sent his family money to come to Janesville, Minn.

When President Lincoln issued an appeal for troops, Albert, then 17, enlisted in October 1864 as a volunteer private in the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment. He started in the drum corps. He served as head drummer boy and later became drum major.

While with the regiment, he saw a “most glorious sight.” It was Sherman’s march to the sea through the heart of the Confederacy.

The drummer boy, who also like to play the cornet, was mustered out in September 1865 and returned to Minnesota. In later years, talking about the Civil War, he said, “We were fighting our brothers. In that there was no glory.”

For 16 years in St. Peter, Minn., he was a wood turner in a furniture factory. He also played cello and guitar with a 20-member band and was general manager and treasurer of a minstrel group.

Woolson came to Duluth in 1905 from Ontonagon, Mich., where he had worked in mills and logging camps. In Duluth, he worked at various jobs. He was a stationary engineer and also did pattern work.

Albert Woolson in his 80s, circa early 1930s

He retired at 85 to “take life easy” and after the death of his second wife in 1949, he made his home with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. John Kobus, 215 E. 5th St. Of his 14 children, four daughters survive: Mrs. Kobus, Mrs. Robert H. Campbell, 628 N. 40th Ave. E., Mrs. Arthur E. Johnson, 132 E. Arrowhead Road; and Mrs. Josephine Burtt, in California.

Duluth became increasingly fond of Albert Woolson as the years went by, and he looked forward to interviews with newspaper, radio and television reporters.

On his birthday each year he was deluged with greetings from throughout the nation and foreign countries. He tried to answer all personally. On his 106th birthday he received more than 8,000 cards.

In later years, Mrs. Kobus took on the mammoth task of answering greetings and inquiries, and in about the last three years of the old soldier’s life, she was helped by Dr. J.F. Robinson through the David Wisted-Zenith City post of the American Legion.

Mrs. Kobus, who used to write at least 200 letters a month when her father was alive, says many persons have continued to send Christmas cards.

Inquiries are still received, mainly from older persons and young children interested in history. Mrs. Kobus appreciates notes from the younger, because “my father just loved children.”

Albert Woolson shoveling snow outside his home at age 106, circa 1953. (Duluth Herald file photo)

Even after his 100th birthday, Woolson took walks along Fifth Street or shoveled snow from the walk of his home. And one of his proudest moments came in 1952 when he was elected to Duluth’s Hall of Fame.

The death of Woolson also meant the end of the Grand Army of the Republic and the last existing post which, fittingly enough, was named after Col. Joshua B. Culver, one of Duluth’s prominent early citizens. Culver was among the first to enlist in the Union Army and later became active in many political and business enterprises in the city.

Woolson was among early supporters of Gen. Eisenhower in the White House. Only a few hours after learning of Woolson’s death, President Eisenhower said:

“By the death of Albert Woolson, the American people have lost the last personal link with the union army. His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the War Between the States.”

Albert Woolson of Duluth with one of his ubiquitous cigars, circa early 1950s. (News-Tribune file photo)

One last excerpt, from the News-Tribune’s coverage of Woolson’s 109th birthday on Feb. 11, 1956:

Albert Woolson is 109 today and his eyes are set on a horizon of peace for all men.

The eyes may be dimming, but his thoughts and his voice are not.

In booming tones that belie his recent illness, the sole survivor of the Union Army of the Civil War trumpeted:

“The business about war is all nonsense.” …

Never one to let an opinion go by, Woolson likes to talk about the future.

“I see a peaceful life ahead of us, if the Lord lets us live,” said the old veteran who today starts on his 110th year. …

Woolson makes no bones about his favorite president – Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He’s an expert on Grant’s life and times.

“Now there was a great man,” Woolson declared. “No palaver about that fellow. No nonsense, either.” …

Albert Woolson at a ceremony in Duluth with granddaughter Frances Kobus, circa early 1950s. (News-Tribune file photo)

Woolson still loves to recite poetry. Last week he rattled off “Just Before the Battle, Mother” and “Minnehaha, Laughing Water” with no prompting.

He loves to talk of old times and remembers his service at Chattanooga, Tenn., with surprising vividness.

“Those nine-inch cannon on high ground there were nothing to fool with,” he recalled. Woolson, then a drummer boy, once was given the opportunity to pull the lanyard and has never forgotten the thrill.

From Fort Blackmore, Va., the hand of friendship was extended yesterday by John B. Salling, 109, a Confederate veteran.

In a statement to the United Press, Salling said “that old scutter is one of my best personal friends.” Scutter is defined by Webster as “one who runs, scurries.”

Salling sent birthday greetings and expressed the hope “that we can meet before we get passed to the Great Beyond.” …

(Woolson) says he remembers seeing Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., in 1859 on a trip there with his father. (Woolson also said he cast a vote for Lincoln in 1864 at age 17, under special rules that allowed Union soldiers to vote even if underage).


Funeral procession for Albert Woolson, August 1956. (News-Tribune file photo)


A rifle team fires a volley over the grave of Albert Woolson during burial services in August 1956. (News-Tribune file photo)


Here is a short YouTube video clip of Woolson from the 1950s:


A statue of Woolson stands outside the Depot in downtown Duluth.

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