Posts by Heidi Bakk-Hansen

Duluth’s Opium Dens

On the morning of August 30, 1912, newsboys howled a shocking headline on Superior Street: “GIRL IN OPIUM DEN WITH NEGRO! POLICE ARREST COMELY CALUMET YOUNG WOMAN AND COMPANION AFTER BREAKING DOOR! Under Influence of Drug! Taken into Custody!” And finally, the last part of the headline, which is perhaps even more offensive to modern…

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Prohibition in Duluth (1916–1933)

If you ask most people today if they’d have voted for Prohibition, they would likely answer with an incredulous, “No! Of course not!” Or, “It was a baffling paroxysm of governmental insanity pushed by religious nuts—you can’t legislate morality!” Looking back from our 21st century perspective, Prohibition was an era of terrifying mob violence—Al Capone,…

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The Spook Priestess Swindler

Of all Duluth’s saloons in the plank-and-mud 1870s, Captain George W. Sherwood’s place was supposedly one of the most raucous. Early Duluth storyteller Jerome Cooley claims in his self-published Recollections of Early Duluth that it was a hangout for all the toughs and boat hands, where one could at any time be subject to a fight.…

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Oneota Cemetery

As a nascent village, Oneota hugged the shoreline of St. Louis Bay near the mouth of Keene’s Creek, dominated by a few pioneer families whose names are oft-remembered for their contributions. This community’s first cemetery was located on the swampy bank close to today’s 45th Avenue West. On the original plat, the graveyard is shown…

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Edward P. Alexander

Alexander Street is tiny, nothing more than an alley behind the Holiday Station off 26th Avenue East, parallel to Jefferson Street in Congdon Park. It has now basically become an entrance to the eastern portion of the Lakewalk, swallowed up by London Road development. Its namesake, Edward Porter Alexander—known as E. P. Alexander—has likewise been…

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Joseph Becks

Next to the weather, there is nothing Duluthians like to complain about more than the quality and care of their roads and streets. It is probable this pastime exists in all cities, but with Duluth’s extreme winters and its springtime washouts and buckling pavements, it’s likely we have had more to complain about—historically speaking—than those…

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Andrew Bergquist and Karl Hagberg

When most people think of Swedes and religion, they think of Lutherans. But in Duluth’s West End, where Swedes moved from Swede Town on Rice’s Point on up the hill as far as Piedmont Heights as their fortunes improved, another group of religious Swedes found a home. Organizing themselves in 1884, the First Swedish Baptist…

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A. S. Chase

Up past Brighton Beach you’ll find a little neighborhood nestled between Highway 61 and the far eastern reaches of Superior Street, from 72nd Avenue East to Pleasant Avenue. It includes Brighton Street, just below and parallel to Highway 61, and just one other roadway: Chase Avenue, named after one of Duluth’s most influential and nearly…

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Charles F. & Ethel Colman

Almost all streets in Duluth that aren’t numbers, places or trees are named for dead white men. It’s regrettable, surely. But as anyone who’s looked at a deed or plat map knows, men were the developers, the real estate buyers, and the ones who decided what the street names would be called. A great number…

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The Dickerman Family

During the boom times between 1890 and 1910, the Kitchi Gammi Club set must have read the real estate transfer section of the newspaper as hotly as gossips read the society pages. Properties flew between investors, land subdivided and re-divided, streets planned one way and then the other, named and re-named. Whole neighborhoods were carved…

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