December 13, 1920: City announces plans for Congdon Boulevard

On this day in Duluth in 1920, the city announced plans for the construction of Congdon Boulevard from 60th Avenue East to Stoney Point along the Lake Superior Shoreline. The road would cost the city $397,600 and construction would include a bridge over the Lester River, connecting the new boulevard to London Road. The road, in fact, was Chester Congdon’s idea in the first place, part of his vision for the “Lake Superior International Highway” he hoped would stretch from 9th Avenue East in Duluth all the way to the Canadian border. In fact, before his death in 1916 Congdon had donated property he had been buying up for years—every available piece of land along the Lake Superior shoreline up to the Lake County line just shy of Two Harbors. In the end Congdon Boulevard—originally a concrete-paved road from the Lester River to the Knife River—was paid for by Duluth, St. Louis County, and the Congdon Family Trust all sharing the cost equally. To lend some symmetry to the project, the Lester River Bridge was designed by Arthur Nichols, half of the firm of Morell & Nichols, who first came to Minnesota in 1908 to work on Glensheen, Congdon’s grand estate, and stayed to become the state’s premier landscape architects. They also designed the bridges of Seven Bridges Road, and their design for the Lester River Bridge (now on the National Register of Historic Places) was copied in Duluth for the Lincoln Park Bridge. As a state representative in 1911, Congdon also passed legislation that allowed large cities to acquire park land “outside of city limits.” And this is why Stoney Point is technically a Duluth Park. There is much, much more to the history of Congdon Boulevard and Kitchi Gammi Park, which includes Brighton Beach, and you can read it here.

Congdon Boulevard photographed in 1929 by Duluth Park Superintendent F. Rodney Paine. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)