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Posts by Tony Dierckins

1870: Duluth’s first year as a city

In 1870, its first year as a city, Duluth — destined to become the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas” — buzzed with activity. Immigrants poured in, swelling the population as construction transformed the landscape from wilderness to urban center. Consequently, that first year came with many firsts. Duluth built its first brick building and…

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“Duluth: An Urban Biography” Book Launch Cancelled

In the spirit of social distancing, the book launch for Tony Dierckins’s Duluth: An Urban Biography (Minnesota Historical Society Press), scheduled for April 15 at Glensheen, has been cancelled. The launch will not be rescheduled, a tough choice for this small business since “release” events are a big boost to authors—an opportunity to sell books…

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Author Events for ‘Duluth: An Urban Biography’

Duluth: An Urban Biography (Minnesota Historical Society Press) covers the Zenith City’s entire history, from the Precambrian lava flows that formed the bed of Lake Superior through the November 2019 mayoral election. You can learn more about the book—and if you can’t make it to one of our events, order a signed copy online—here. UPDATE:…

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Joshua B. Culver: Duluth’s first mayor and leader of ‘The Ring’

When Duluth first became a city in 1870, its citizens elected as their mayor Josua B. Culver, founder of the 1856 town of Duluth and Civil War veteran, who ran a sawmill off Morse Street on the bay side of Minnesota Point. Culver was also the unofficial leader of unofficial group newspaper editor Thomas Foster…

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How Jay Cooke resurrected Duluth’s ‘lifeless corpse’

Duluth in the 1860s had been described as a “lifeless corpse,” and that February 1869 fewer than 200 people lived in town. That’s when financier Jay Cooke announced he would bring his Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad to Duluth instead of Superior, Wisconsin—and that when Duluth rose from the grave to become the Zenith City.…

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Duluth’s first boom—and bust: 1856–1868

As 1856 began, perhaps no other region in the U.S. stood as poised with promise as did the western end of Lake Superior. But by December 1857, more than half the people who lived in Superior and what is now Duluth began fleeing in droves. Why—and what was life in Duluth like in the 1860s?…

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Prohibition on Tap at Ursa Minor February 18

Join us Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m. for “Prohibition in the Zenith City,” at Ursa Minor Brewing, part of the brewery’s new Tuesday Talks series. In recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the start of national Prohibition, Zenith City Press publisher Tony Dierckins will be presenting “Prohibition in the Zenith City,” followed by a…

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The Many Birthdays of the Zenith City

Duluth celebrated its centennial in 1956—so how is it we are celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2020? Because of Duluth’s complex early history, that’s why. In fact, Duluth could arguably have six different birthdays. How? Why? Well, you’ll just have to read about it in ZCP publisher Tony Dierckins’s second of eight installments on Duluth’s early…

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Prohibition and Duluth‘s Long, Complicated History of Liquor Laws

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act going into effect, essentially the start of national Prohibition, on January 17, 1920. But by then, Duluth had already been dry for over two years—and when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Duluthians still couldn’t get a drink. You see, the Zenith City has a long and…

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