This year’s first Zenith City on Tap—on Wednesday, February 6—is titled Becoming the Twin Ports: Duluth & Superior, 1855–1910: The region known today as “The Northland” was called the “Head of Lakes” for much of its early history. Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, competed to see which community would emerge as the nation’s most important inland port. While Duluth’s railroad and ship canal gave it an early advantage, the cities together weathered cycles of financial booms and busts throughout the second half of the 19th century. By 1910 the federal government considered the dueling duo as one, and that year the cities began calling themselves the “Twin Ports.”
Zenith City on Tap is a month-long series of local history talks presented by award-winning author and historian Tony Dierckins, publisher of Zenith City Press. Glensheen generously opens its doors every Wednesday evening in February for these free history talks, and this year our friends at the Duluth News Tribune are co-sponsoring the events as well. Doors open at 6:30, and we gather in the estate’s basement recreation room where wine and local craft beer is available. Beginning at 7 p.m., these casual evenings kick off as Dierckins spends about 45 minutes taking the audience back in time, punctuating his stories with historic images of the Zenith City and the people who shaped it, then takes audience questions on the topic.
Upcoming Zenith City on Tap History Talks at Glensheen:
February 13: For the People, By the People: Duluth’s Park System, 1889–2019
Pioneers of the Zenith City first began platting small parks—or “public squares”—as early as 1856, but it wasn’t until the city’s first Board of Park Commissioners formed in 1889 that Duluth laid out a plan to develop the remarkable parks system it enjoys today. This presentation explores how the development of Duluth’s unparalleled park system—including over 170 park properties and roadways encompassing approximately 12,000 acres or 25 percent of the city—was driven by the combined efforts of pioneers, politicians, and a generous and energetic public.
February 20: Duluth’s 1889 City Hall & the Mayor’s Who Served Inside It
Renowned Duluth architect Oliver Traphagen designed Duluth’s 1889 City Hall at the southwest corner of Superior and East Second Streets to serve the seat of Duluth’s municipal government, which it did until 1929. This presentation reaches beyond the architecture of this brownstone jewel to introduce the audience to the twelve mayors that served within its walls from 1889 to 1929 and their impact on the history of the Zenith City, then traces the building’s tenant history to today and explores the many myths and legends surrounding this iconic structure.
February 27: Naturally Better: 150 Years of Brewing Beer with Lake Superior Water, 1869–2019
Prussian immigrant Gustav Kiene first brewed his Lake Superior Ale on Minnesota Point in 1869, making 2019 the 150th anniversary of brewing with Lake Superior water. This presentation covers the history of making beer in Duluth and Superior—both the oldest and newest industry in the Twin Ports—from the pioneer days of the 1860s through the 20th century’s four major breweries (Fitger’s, People’s, Northern, Duluth Brewing & Malting) and on to the craft brewers of today, explaining why Lake Superior water is the key ingredient to making naturally better beer.