September 13, 2006: Duluth parks commission accepts “Historical Park”

On this day in Duluth in 2006, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission voted in support of accepting the title to Historical Park from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and perpetually dedicated it as official park land. Historical Park has the unique distinction of being one of Duluth’s newest parks, but with the oldest history of any of Duluth’s public spaces. The tiny park—a single lot near the intersection of 133rd Avenue West and Second Street in Fond du Lac—was part of the site of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Post, built in 1817 and active until the 1840s.  The buildings fell into ruin and were removed by 1917. By 1922 there was very little left of the property that once housed the fur post, less than one city lot. That year Duluth’s Daughters of Liberty and Greysolon du Lhut chapters of the DAR collectively purchased the property and placed a historical marker at the site. Although not officially part of Duluth’s park system, Duluthians who were aware of the site referred to it as Astor Park and, occasionally, Heritage Park. The 2006 name change was deliberate—DAR representatives wanted to be more respectful of other aspects of the site’s history, particularly the native peoples who lived there. In 2010 another city council resolution made the park a Duluth landmark property. The resolution called the park “John J. Astor Park aka Historical Park” and newspaper articles referred to the park as “John Jacob Astor Park.” Whatever you want to call it, you can read its history as the site of a 19th-century fur post here.

John Jacob Astor. (Image: Public Domain)r