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March 12, 1877:  City of Duluth holds its final city council meeting  

On this day in Duluth in 1877, city officials met for the last time. Duluth would reorganize as the Village of Duluth the following October, and in the interim months would be known as the District of Duluth. Within a week the district had elected the officials that would run the village once it was officially incorporated. A. M. Miller (pictured below) was selected a village president. The city had been financially strapped since September, 1873, when Jay Cooke’s banks failed, ushering in a depression known as the Panic of ’73. By 1877 the Zenith City’s debts had grown so high that it was decided the only way for the community to survive was to essentially go bankrupt and reorganize, and to do so city leaders allowed for its city charter, granted by the state in 1870, to expire.  The final meeting involved a highly symbolic conflagration. According to historian Walter Van Brunt, “The last official acts of the city executives were the transference of its empty safe and the city’s ownership of the fire apparatus used by the Duluth Hose Company, No. 1, to the village. And then $51,000 worth of cancelled bonds and coupons were offered up as a burnt offering. So, passed away the first City of Duluth, and the fringe of the city outside of the village had no government for a while.” Confused about Duluth’s civic history? Reading this will help you figure it out….

Andreas M. Miller. (Image: Duluth Public Library)