March 6, 1870: Duluth becomes a city for the first time

On this day in Duluth in 1870, the Minnesota State legislature passed a bill making the town of Duluth and several other surrounding townsites the city of Duluth. Duluth stretched between Twenty-First Avenue East and Thirtieth Avenue West from Fifth Street to to Minnesota Point’s Oatka Beach at Thirty-Eighth Street South, including Rice’s Point. The Zenith City adapted a council system of government in which a Common Council made up of two aldermen representing each of the City’s [then] four wards advised a strong mayor who could appoint city officials. One alderman would be elected for one year, the other for two. Each ward also had its own Justice of the Peace and a constable. City officials also included a treasurer, city justice of the peace, City Clerk, City Comptroller, Street Commissioner, City Engineer, City Assessor, and City Attorney. For the first election, the list of candidates read like a who’s who of Duluth pioneers, including Colonel J. B. Culver and John Hunter for mayor, banker George C. Stone for treasurer, Walter Van Brunt for clerk, and Sidney Luce, Roger Munger, Edmond Ingalls, William Nettleton, and J. D. Ray among the aldermen candidates. Six years later, Duluth was reduced from a city to a village, and its borders were redacted. Why, and when did it become a city again? Find out that and more about Duluth’s civic development here.

Zenith City Press’s unofficial seal for Duluth, which was platted as a town in 1856, incorporated as a town in 1857, made a city in 1870, reverted to a district in spring 1877, reorganized as a village in fall 1877, and became a city once again in 1887. (Image: Zenith City Press)