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December 28, 1889: The “start of New Duluth”

On this day in Duluth in 1889, Charles Lovett and his brother-in-law D. H. Roe looked over property between Grassy Point and Fond du Lac, an event Lovett described as “the start of New Duluth.” Lovett, who had thought the land would be rough and rocky, was surprised to find “the largest body of level ground on the Minnesota side [of the St. Louis River] adjacent to Duluth.” The pair formed the New Duluth Land Company and platted the land that would become New Duluth in the spring of 1889. It attracted many businesses to the area, including established Duluth outfits such as Atlas Iron and Brass Works and the W. P. Heimbach Lumber Company. The New Duluth land sale was a tremendous success, but when Duluth’s Bell & Eyster’s Bank failed, the company lost much of its capital and frightened investors refused to make payments. All further sales were stopped. The financial panic of 1893 scared away any other potential investors. Duluth annexed New Duluth (and the land that would become Gary) in 1895, but neither would see significant growth until U.S. Steel built Morgan Park in 1913 on land between Riverside and New Duluth. Named for U.S. Steel’s J. P. Morgan, Morgan Park was a carefully planned company town originally intended strictly for the families of the steel firm’s managers, foremen, and skilled laborers—Germans, Scandinavians, and native-born Americans of European descent. Most unskilled laborers, recent Eastern and Southern European immigrants and Blacks, populated New Duluth, a portion of which had been purchased by U.S. Steel, and more property they named Gary in honor of Elbert H. Gary, a co-founder of U.S. Steel. Read more about Duluth’s development here.

One of many advertisements for C. E. Lovett’s real estate investments in West Duluth. Lovett convinced the owner of Marinette Iron Works to relocate his entire company from Marinette, Wisconsin, to Duluth in 1890. (Image: Zenith City Press)