January 19, 1910: Alworth announces observation deck atop his new “sky scraper” 

On this day in Duluth in 1910, Marshall H. Alworth announced that his new “sky scraper” office building would include a 16 x 50-foot observation deck the News Tribune said would “command a view of the lake for 30 miles on a clear day. From the lookout there will also be a fine view over the harbor, up the St. Louis River and over Duluth and Superior. The whole lake front may be scanned from the canal piers far beyond Lakewood.” When it was complete, Alworth’s building at 306 West Superior Street—designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who also designed Duluth’s St. Louis County Courthouse—stood 15 stories above Superior Street and 16 above Michigan Street. It was not only the tallest building in Duluth when it was first completed in May, 1910, it was the tallest building in the state and of the entire “Northwest,” as the region from Minnesota to Washington State was called at the time. He set up office on the Michigan Street side of the 16th floor—he would have the building’s best view indoors as well. Captain August Wolvin—who already had his own building at 227 West First Street (now the Missabe Building)—rented space for his Wolvin Steamship operations on an upper floor of the Alworth with access to the observation deck. With this new vantage point his employees could keep track of the company’s ships coming to and going from the Port of Duluth. Read a history of the Alworth Building—still the tallest in Duluth—here.

A postcard of the Alworth Building made some time between 1915 and 1925. (Image: Zenith City Press)