Interstate Bridge, 1961

As with the previous post on the bear in the boat, this one features a reader-submitted photo from years back that was left in the News Tribune files.

The photo, credited to C.F. Sager of Duluth and dated Oct. 22, 1961, is a view of the old Interstate Bridge linking Duluth and Superior, as seen from its replacement, the then-new High Bridge, later named the Blatnik Bridge. Click on the photo for a larger version:

Here are a couple of zoomed-in views:

The Interstate Bridge has been featured in several past Attic posts:

Interstate Bridge

Superior’s Main Street and the Interstate Bridge

Edmund Fitzgerald passes through the Interstate Bridge

Most of the span was removed in the years after the Blatnik Bridge opened. Part of the Interstate Bridge remains in place on the Duluth side and is used as a fishing pier; find more information at the links listed above.

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Aerial view of West Duluth, 1970

Circa 1970

This News Tribune file photo shows Interstate 35 under construction through West Duluth. It has two dates written on the back – 1969 and 1970 – so perhaps an alert reader can pick out some details from this image to determine which year is correct.

This photo certainly shows how important Cody Street was as an entrance to Duluth before the freeway was completed.

Click on the photo for a much larger version of the image. Here are a couple of zoomed-in views, starting with the West Duluth commercial district (this was a time before Kmart and Super One):

And here’s the area around Laura MacArthur School, what was then Shoppers City and the long-gone railroad viaduct:

Here are links to a couple of past Attic posts on West Duluth:

West Duluth, early 1980s

West Duluth before the paper mill, 1986

What interesting things do you spot in these photos? Share your observations and memories by posting a comment.

Superior Street before the I-35 tunnels, 1983

Here’s a photo of East Superior Street from Oct. 10, 1983, right before construction of the Interstate 35 tunnels in the vicinity of the Fitger’s Brewery complex and Leif Erikson Park:

Scattered among the many buildings that were demolished for the extension of I-35 eastward from downtown to 26th Avenue East, you can see the buildings that survived – Fitger’s just visible at lower right, the Portland Malt Shoppe, Sir Benedict’s, the Kitchi Gammi Club and more. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Also visible is an odd diagonal street cutting across the lower half of the image. That was one-block-long Washington Avenue, which was mostly swallowed up by the freeway construction:

What perhaps could be called a small nub of Washington Avenue still exists today, angling off First Street at Seventh Avenue East next to Expert Tire, leading to the back alley.

The Expert Tire building, visible at left center above, has an angled edge along Washington Avenue – it retains that shape to this day, though the street that caused it to be built that way has been gone now for more than 25 years.

Here are a couple more views of that area from October 1983. This first shot was taken the same day as the photo above, Oct. 10 (click on the photo for a larger view); all photos with this post were taken by the News Tribune’s Charles Curtis:

And this photo was taken later in the month, on Oct. 25, 1983, looking southwest along Superior Street from in front of Sir Benedict’s as buildings were razed for the pending freeway construction:

Here’s a related past Attic post, on efforts to preserve the Fitger’s Brewery complex as the freeway plans were created: Saving Fitger’s from the wrecking ball

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Archive aerial views of the Twin Ports

I came across two (and was e-mailed a third) old aerial photos of the Twin Ports. Here they are (click on the photos for a larger view):

View over the West End and the Rice’s Point rail yards toward the Blatnik Bridge, 1970. (News Tribune file photo)

This photo shows construction of Interstate 35 (and I-535), including parts of the “Can of Worms” interchange, in 1970. The Blatnik Bridge, seen in the distance, had already been open for several years at the time of this photo; its traffic was directed onto Garfield Avenue (where you can see part of Goldfine’s-by-the-Bridge Department Store).

The photo also captures a sliver of the West End business district. Here’s a closer view of Superior Street:

From left to right, you can see a DX service station / car wash; Enger & Olson furniture (with J & J Phillips 66 service station across Superior Street); 19th Avenue West; and the West End Liquor Store, with a billboard on the side that reads “Scotch Scotch” (perhaps Ron Burgundy could have shopped there back in the day).

———————-

Here’s a view of the Burlington Northern ore docks in Superior from 1977. The Mesabi Miner is berthed at the ore dock on the right. On the left, the nearer boat has “Inland Steel” on its side; I can’t make out the ship name, but it looks like the distinctive Edward L. Ryerson, which currently is in long-term layup at Fraser Shipyards just a few miles from where this photo was taken. The name of the third boat can’t been read in this picture.

—————————

And courtesy of Gary Androsky over at the Superior Telegram, here’s an image from the Telegram’s files of Interstate 35 being extended through downtown Duluth in the 1980s – the tunnels are under construction in this view, which also provides a good look at much of downtown; click on the photo for a much larger image.

————

Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

Now boarding at Gate 1… Duluth Airlines

As so often happens when scanning old newspapers on microfilm, I was looking for one thing today and came across something else more interesting. This time it was microfilm from March 17, 1946, and I stumbled across this ad:

Duluth Airlines? I had never heard of that before. I searched online, and found this information from a June 4, 1946 Milwaukee Journal article:

“Duluth Airlines, which is operating a charter service with one daily round trip between Chicago, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, Duluth and Hibbing, Minn., Monday asked the civil aeronautics board for approval of the airlines’ application for this and three feeder routes in Wisconsin.

“Jack Cavanaugh, Duluth president, told CAB Examiner H.K. Bryan in Washington, D.C., that without approval of the application, the firm would discontinue its present service. The airline operates two 14-passenger Lockheed Lodestar planes.”

And here are excerpts from a Nov. 4, 1946 Milwaukee Journal article about Duluth Airlines:

“The firm was incorporated in Minnesota last year by a group of naval air veterans. (Examiner Herbert K.) Bryan recommended that it be granted a three-year certificate to operate to these cities: Chicago; Fargo, N.D.; Bemidji, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Hibbing, Duluth, Minn.; Iceland; Rhinelander, Wausau, Stevens Point, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wis.; Ironwood, Iron Mountain, Marquette, Escanaba, Marinette, Mich.; Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Dubuque, Iowa; and Rockford, Ill.

“Duluth proposes to operate five Lockheed Lodestars and Douglas DC-3s. Hangar facilities and maintenance equipment, the application said, will be housed at Hibbing, the origination and destination point of most flights.”

That’s where the trail runs cold from my initial search; there’s nothing in the indexed files in the News Tribune archives. Can any of you fill in the gaps about what happened to Duluth Airlines? Did it go out of business? Merge with another company? If you have any information, please post a comment.

Coverage of the Titanic disaster

Top of the front page of the April 16, 1912, Duluth News Tribune with news of the sinking of the Titanic

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and over the next few days the Duluth News Tribune and www.duluthnewstribune.com will be running a lot of stories on Northland ties to the wreck.

For the Attic, I’ve uploaded PDFs of the front page and “jump” page of a week’s worth of issues from April 1912.

The Titanic struck the iceberg late on the night of April 14, 1912, and sank on April 15. The News Tribune did manage to get news in its April 15 edition that the huge ship had struck an iceberg. But it was the next day’s paper – April 16 – and the ones that followed that really showed the scope of the disaster.

Click on the PDF links below to see for yourself – even if you’re not interested in the Titanic, there’s a lot of other stuff to read on these pages:

April 15, 1912 (front page) – initial news of ship striking iceberg

April 15, 1912 (story jumps)

April 16, 1912 (front page) – first “complete” story on scope of disaster

April 16, 1912 (story jumps)

April 17, 1912 (front page) – awaiting arrival of survivors aboard Carpathia

April 17, 1912 (story jumps)

April 18, 1912 (front page) – still waiting for Carpathia and more details on wreck

April 18, 1912 (story jumps)

April 19, 1912 (front page) – “awful details” of shipwreck are revealed

April 19, 1912 (story jumps)

April 20, 2012 (front page) – more details and testimony on the wreck

April 20, 2012 (story jumps)

April 21, 2012 (front page) – information from lookouts, radio operators

April 21, 2012 (story jumps)

Share your stories by posting a comment.

The steepest streets in Duluth

Looking out over downtown from atop Duluth’s steepest street – Fifth Avenue West, at its intersection with Sixth Street, April 2012. (Andrew Krueger / News Tribune)

This blog chronicles many things that have changed in Duluth over the years, but here’s an entry on something that’s as much a topic of discussion today as it was 50 years ago – the steep streets downtown. They certainly can keep life interesting – take this mishap from 1984.

Back in February 1998, the News Tribune looked at life on what often is cited as THE steepest street in town – Fifth Avenue West, above Mesaba Avenue. Here’s that story:

A DIFFERENT SLANT OF LIFE

PEOPLE WHO LIVE AND WORK ON DULUTH’S STEEPEST STREETS TAKE THE UPS AND DOWNS IN STRIDE

By Chuck Frederick, News-Tribune staff writer

Angela Szymecki leaned into the hillside and climbed slowly to the top of the mercilessly steep street. Her leg muscles screamed as she clutched a railing and reminded herself not to slip. She didn’t want to fall. Not here. Not on Fifth Avenue West, perhaps the steepest of Duluth’s many steep streets.

In a city built on the side of a hill, a city that is sometimes compared to San Francisco, thousands of Duluthians live and work on the hillside. Many of them think nothing of it. They buy four-wheel drive vehicles, take roundabout routes home during snowstorms, and then turn their front tires toward the curb when they park.

But on some streets people can’t help but think about the hill. They can’t help but wonder, “If I fall down will I stop rolling before I splash into the harbor?”

“It is dangerous walking up and down this hill,” said Szymecki, a two-year resident on Fifth Avenue West, which has a 25 percent grade between Fifth and Sixth streets. That compares to a 19 percent grade on the steepest ski run at Spirit Mountain, the Gandy Dancer.

“I slipped just the other day,” Szymecki said of her steep street. “And on just a little piece of ice. That scared me.”

Living and working on the face of a dropoff can be hairy. Concessions must be made to the terrain. Difficulty in moving around during the winter is something you just come to accept.

But it also can be fun, some residents say. There’s something very Duluth about it, something rugged and adventurous, a pride that comes from knowing you live somewhere others don’t dare visit.

Unless they’re looking for an extreme workout, most joggers choose the same route across Fifth Avenue West, rather than up or down the steep street. Between Fifth and Sixth street, the avenue’s grade is 24 percent. (Bob King / News Tribune) Note that many of the trees lining the street in this photo from January 1998 are no longer standing in the present-day view atop this post.

Bruce McLean feels that rush. From the back of Szymecki’s home, his voice is dripping with an attitude flatlanders will never understand.

“Did you mention the goats?” he shouted before stepping into the front room, grinning. “The billy goats we saw walking up here the other day? Did you mention them?”

“Very funny, Bruce,” retorted Luke Szymecki, Angela’s 16-year-old son and Bruce’s friend.

“I rode my bike down that hill once,” McLean continued, still grinning. “Only once. I looked back up and decided to sell it to a passerby at the bottom of the hill.

“My girlfriend is afraid to drive up it,” he said, being a little more serious. “I’ve got to walk down there and meet her and then drive her car up for her. It’s crazy.”

“And it’s just crazy to park here,” Luke said. “I assume your car would just end up at the bottom of the hill every time.”

Mail carrier Jack Harmon has been parking his postal truck on Fifth Avenue West for 14 years.

“It can be difficult,” he said of this portion of his route. “But the city takes pretty good care of the streets and most of the people do real good to keep their steps clear. I’ve gotten so used to (the hillside), I actually look forward to the exercise. I’ve gotten to know the people there so well, too. If I didn’t deliver there, I’d miss our little chats every day.”

Arne Sather delivers mail to the top half of the avenue. He, too, has come to accept the hill as just another part of the job. He has even developed a sense of humor about it.

“The guy who used to have this route, he wound up with one leg shorter than the other,” Sather said, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “You have to do the route backwards every couple of days to keep yourself even.

“But the best thing to do is park and walk,” he said, more seriously. “Driving on those hills is tough. There are days you just can’t control the truck there.”

You don’t have to tell that to the city workers who plow Duluth’s steepest streets. Tony Budisalovich has been plowing Fifth Avenue West for 10 years.

“I’ve slid from Sixth to Fifth in a second and a half,” he said. “I’ve done full-circle spins. You just hold on and go. There’s nothing you can do. It’s like on a skating rink. It happens so fast. It’s over with before you can really get scared. But afterward you shake. You just sit there and shake.”

Budisalovich likes to drive his grader backward up the avenue — not because it’s easier to climb the hill, but because he wants to see where he’s going if he should slide back down.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “I’m waiting another three years for another guy to retire. Then I can take his route. Let someone else take a turn at this.”

Shoveling, driving and even just walking can be a challenge on a steep street, says Angela Szymecki, seen here in January 1998. She lives near the top of Fifth Avenue West, perhaps the steepest of Duluth’s many steep streets. (Charles Curtis / News Tribune)

Most of Duluth’s steepest streets are in Central Hillside, Goat Hill and Lincoln Park (West End). But a pair of streets near the top of the city’s steepest list are found over the hill. St. Paul Avenue and Minneapolis Avenue, both in the Woodland neighborhood, ranked fifth and sixth with grades of 20 and 19 percent, roughly the same as the Spirit Mountain’s steepest ski run.

That doesn’t surprise Doug Sanders. He has lived at the bottom of Minneapolis Avenue, near Isanti Street, since 1942, back when the avenue was first nicknamed “Steep Minnie.”

Sanders remembers neighbors throwing ashes from their coal furnaces onto the road to help motorists climb the hill.

“People who lived up there had to get up the hill,” he said. “Those ashes and clinkers helped.”

Sanders also remembers sledding down the avenue as a boy, back when there wasn’t as much traffic and cars didn’t go so fast.

“We’d keep one kid at the bottom of the hill as a lookout, and then down we’d go,” he said.

Kids still play on the hill, zooming down on their bikes, sleds or in-line skates.

“I’ve seen the neighbor kids take their Roller Blades down it,” said Mary Kettelhut of Minneapolis Avenue. “That’s horrifying. I pray no cars are coming across at the time.”

A block over on St. Paul Avenue, the steep hill stopped bothering Jennifer Lewis the day she bought a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Gone are the days when she had to shout into the back seat to remind the kids to hang on because Mom was turning into the driveway.

“We don’t have any problems, but we still see a lot of cars getting stuck here,” Lewis said. “They’ll try to make it up the hill, but they’ll get stuck, so they’ll have to back down, and then they’ll slide and wind up getting stuck in the woods. Then someone has to call a tow truck.

“It is hard to make it up and down some days,” Lewis said. “But it’s where we live. We love it here. We make the best of it.”

- end -

Mail carrier Jack Harmon makes sure he sets his parking brake before delivering mail to a house off Fifth Avenue West in January 1998. After 14 years on the route. Harmon says he’s accustomed to steep streets. “I actually look forward to the exercise,” he says. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

Here’s a list that ran with the story back in 1998:

Duluth steepest streets

Some streets in Duluth are actually steeper than the steepest run at Spirit Mountain. The Gandy Dancer ski hill has a 19 percent grade. These streets are at least that steep:*

Streets and grade

1. Fifth Avenue West between West Fifth and West Sixth Streets — 25% — Rises 80.788 feet in 320.239 feet

2. 17th Avenue West above West Third Street — 24% — Rises 37.616 feet in 158.707 feet

3. W. Seventh Street above Piedmont Avenue — 21% — Rises 54.820 feet in 256.960 feet

4. 19th Avenue West above Old Piedmont Avenue in Goat Hill. — 21% — Rises 42.343 feet in 197.869 feet

5. St. Paul Avenue between Isanti and Anoka avenues — 20% — Rises 51.114 feet in 260.366 feet

6. Minneapolis Avenue between Isanti and Anoka avenues — 19% — Rises 61.307 feet in 318.738 feet

7. West Fourth Street above Piedmont Avenue — 19% — Rises 65.854 feet in 338.615 feet

Minneapolis Avenue in the Woodland neighborhood, seen here in January 2002, has gained a legendary reputation for its steep slope that rivals the steepest run at Spirit Mountain ski resort. The street is usually a haven for kids on bikes, in-line skates and sleds. (Justin Hayworth / News-Tribune)

Here are some other steep Duluth streets:

– Eighth Avenue West above West Third Street — 18% — Rises 58.420 feet in 319.687 feet

– Fourth Avenue West below Mesaba Avenue — 17% — Rises 51.312 feet in 307.957 feet

– First Avenue East between East Sixth and East Seventh streets — 17% — Rises 51.408 feet in 306.421 feet

– Park Street between Livingston and Morningside avenues — 17% — Rises 48.723 feet in 289.757 feet

– West Sixth Street above Piedmont Avenue — 16% — Rises 32.522 feet in 199.730 feet

– 26th Avenue East between London and Greysolon roads — 15% — Rises 46.058 feet in 314.733 feet

– 22nd Avenue West above Piedmont Avenue — 14% — Rises 20.838 feet in 154.139 feet

– Fourth Avenue East from Superior to First streets — 13% — Rises 39.190 feet in 297.699 feet

– 19th Avenue East above Superior Street — 12% — Rises 35.249 feet in 293.994 feet

– 21st Avenue East between London Road and Superior Street — 11% — Rises 35.767 feet in 311.500 feet

– Mesaba Avenue above West Seventh Street — 10% — Rises 38.888 feet in 390.875 feet

– Piedmont Avenue above Seven Corners — 9% — Rises 27.560 feet in 317.032 feet

– Piedmont Avenue below Seven Corners — 7% — Rises 32.743 feet in 437.008 feet

*There may be steeper streets in Duluth than some included here. These lists are not intended to be “Top-10” style rankings. Some streets were included solely because they are well-traveled, allowing easy comparisons to steeper but lesser-known roadways.

Source: The Lake Superior College Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering Technicians.

———-

Share your steep-street stories and memories – and tell us if there’s a steep street missing from these lists – by posting a comment.

Corner of Superior and Lake, circa 1930

This photo, which dates to about 1930, shows the corner of Superior Street and Lake Avenue in downtown Duluth; it’s looking east up Superior Street.

At far right in the Freimuth’s Department Store building, and the dominant facade across Lake Avenue belongs to the Bradley Building. Next door to the Bradley Building is a building that, in this photo, appears to be home to the Boston Piano Co. (see close-up below). It appears to be the same structure that housed the Famous Clothing Co. for many years, and which survives today as the home of the Electric Fetus music store.

Here are some zoomed-in views of the store signs (click on the photos for a larger view):

I’m basing the date for this photo (there’s no caption information) mostly on the movie playing at the Strand Theater, next door to Boston Piano Co. It’s “The Other Tomorrow” starring Billie Dove, which Internet sources say was released in 1930. Certainly the cars must give some clue to the date, too, but that’s not an area of expertise for me.

And one other thing I noted…

A former home of the News Tribune (then apparently known as the “T.N.T.” as opposed to the “DNT”), in a building that still stands today, in renovated form, as part of the Wieland Block development.

Spot anything else interesting in these images? Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

Photos of the Aerial Ferry Bridge

Before it was the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Duluth icon was the Aerial Ferry Bridge.

When the span linking Canal Park to Park Point first opened in 1905, a gondola – or “aerial ferry” carried passengers and vehicles across the ship canal. The bridge was converted to its present lift-and-lower span in the winter of 1929-30.

I’m unsure of the origin of the photos with this post; I don’t think they were taken as News Tribune photos. They may have been sent in by readers at one time, but they’ve been residing in dusty files upstairs here for years. Whatever the source, they offer some nice glimpses of the Aerial Ferry Bridge; click on each photo for a larger view:

Duluth’s Aerial Ferry Bridge as viewed from the Lake Superior side, circa 1918.

—–

Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, circa April 1923. Signs on buildings to the right of the bridge structure on the far side read “Auto Transfer and Storage Co.” and (I think) “Hoopes Real Estate Loans.”

—–

Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, April 1, 1923.

—–

Boarding the Aerial Ferry Bridge gondola from Park Point, April 1923.

Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

View of Mount Royal, when gas was $1.26 a gallon

March 25, 1997

Businesses from grocery stores to gas stations cater to residents and motorists along Woodland Avenue in March 1997. (Kathy Strauss / News Tribune)

This photo was featured as an Attic post back in March 2008; I had a lot fewer viewers back then, so I’m posting it again for those who missed it the first time around.

There’s a good mix of things that have changed and things that have remained the same over the past 15 years. Among the things that have changed, perhaps most notable is the price of gas:

—–

Here’s another News Tribune archive photo from that area, of the Mount Royal grocery store in September 2000, before it was renovated:

—-

And one more, looking north along Woodland Avenue near Mount Royal in March 2009:

At that time three years ago, gas was less than $2 a gallon:

Share your memories of the Mount Royal area by posting a comment.