You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We're here to see America, after all, after so long away, and Duluth seems like a worthy destination for that. It's in Minnesota, we're told, and it's late June 2022. Proceed ad libitum.
Today's itinerary: Our temporary digs at the Fairfield are just past the Aerial Lift Bridge, the southern end of the Canal Park district at the head of six-mile Minnesota Point -- we're going to explore the famous Lakewalk that will, if we understood it correctly, lead us the Canal Park's 800m length as it hooks onto the mainland and turns up along the shoreline.
The colorful, assertive flapping flag in our hotel parking lot -- a quick but heartfelt salute, and then we're off.
Back to the Aerial Lift Bridge, presently in use -- the roadway is being hauled upward by the two monster counterweights, and we're just going to have to cool our heels at the red light.
The roadway is aloft, all the ships may pass.
The Vista Star, crammed with jubilant sightseers, is off on its scenic rounds up the coast.
There it goes. Have fun!
Over the bridge, and a look at the Corps of Engineers building, the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center to its right, and, to the right of that, the start of our much-anticipated journey along the Duluth Lakewalk.
Across the harbor, that's the Great Lakes Aquarium. Opened in 2000, we're informed, and generally very well reviewed. Alas, our time is short here.
Luckily, the pleasant bridge-power-scrubber was friendly and accommodating, and we could slither past.
This is S. Lake Ave, a kind of thoroughfare over the bridge and continuing a bit past our hotel before joining the Minnesota Ave that runs out to the far end of the point.
The magnificent bridge from another angle
And still another. It would be a fine thing to be able to join the boss in his little cabin just for one ride up. And down again.
From the head of the Lakewalk, that's the Maritime Visitor Center. Very nice from the outside, but to our grief we won't have time to see it from the inside.
Oh yum. One does so love a snack wagon. (That's actually to be seen on Google Maps, under the name of 'Red Wagon Popcorn'.) (So it's not really the right venue for some hot dogs.)
The end of the ship canal, with the North Pier Lighthouse on the left. (And on the right, the South Pier Lighthouse!)
Now that's a proper snack wagon, sort of. The Lakewalk Galley (formerly the 'Nels J'), operated by the Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar, which is just a few blocks over the central Canal Park Drive, next to Little Angie's Cantina & Grill, adjacent to the Taste of Saigon ('comfy spot for Chinese & Vietnamese fare'), backed onto the Amazing Grace Cafe & Grocery ('electic basement locale'), and a USPS collection box.
The Duluth Lakewalk (there's a non-motorized vehicle path all the way alongside on the left). The shore protections alongside it on the right don't look like they'll be washing away anytime soon, and they appear from info plaque (below) to be new. What a job of work.
The Lift Bridge Lodge, brightening up our walk along the huge shorefront boulder barricade on our right
And there's the 'Inn on Lake Superior'.
Every lakewalk, at least in Minnesota, we're informed, requires at least one commercial 'Nordic Sauna'.
And there's the . . . errm, oh god, what is it? On the map, it's identified as 'The CRIBS (Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum)'.
Somebody really needs to help us out with this creepy thing. And indeed there is an explanation, however improbable it might sound. According to local guide James Bjork, 'The Cribs is the remnant of a sand and gravel loading dock built by Harvey Whitney in 1919. The idea was to speed the off-loading of aggregate for the booming construction trade in Duluth by letting the barges unload off shore and avoid the wait to enter through the busy canal. The problem was that without an outer harbor wall, the boats couldn't approach the dock when the weather was rough. By 1922 the project was abandoned and the Cribs was left to the ravages Lake Superior weather. Today, the Cribs is a popular swimming and diving spot in the summer.'
Someone else points out that it's beloved of nesting birds, but more helpfully, another researcher reports that, when it was built in 1919, there was a tunnel running from this 'sand and gravel hopper' with a steam-powered moving belt line to move stuff over onto the shore. The idea was to save ships from having to queue up to come through the canal by offloading onto this adjunct to the promised city port facility here. That facility wasn't built, however, and without it this thing was too dangerous in dodgy weather -- the builders went bust and the 'mausoleum' was abandoned in 1922 (source: Petar Djajkovski, 2018).
Now there's a promising place for our next dinner (our next two dinners as it turned out).
By the way, the myth that Harvey's Mausoleum was actually an offshore Prohibition-era distillery is *false*.
We're approaching the mainland and shuttling off up the coast on the right. Looking forward soon to be staring up at awe-inspiring skyscrapers. (Mostly medical establishments, as it turned out.)
The Canal Park Lodge, with unrelated superchimney
We're on the pleasant lower Lakewalk, observing other people walking along another Lakewalk with trees and stuff on it. Our time will come.
The plans for the Lakewalk Renewal, at that time still aspirational, now evidently completed, hence those megatons of lakeside boulders ranged alongside us as we've been admiring the sights.
Another veterans memorial, for the 'Vietnam War' -- there are so many these days, as we accumulate more and more wars. This is quite an attractive one. We just passed a Korean War Memorial 70 meters back, and the enormous 'USS Duluth LPD-6 Anchor' just sitting out there on the grass.
[By the way, the USS Duluth ('an Austin-class amphibious transport dock') did lots of earnest work during the aforementioned 'Vietnam War', participated in the Operation Team Spirt '82 training exercises in 1982, and ended its formidable career in 2005 supporting the famous 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'. It also won a Humanitarian Service Medal for tsunami relief efforts. We should have photographed the memorial anchor, but after all it was only an anchor.]
Kristin is surveying the names of the fallen servicepeople from this region during that lamented war, 136 of them up on a black granite wall. Way too many. [The term 'Northland', we understand, refers to the seven counties in the 'Arrowhead', north and west of Minneapolis, as well as the adjacent Douglas County with the city of Superior in Wisconsin.]
On that sobering but memorial note, we have wisely left the shoreside Lakewalk and crossed the rail tracks up to the higher walkway. We find ourselves in an enormous carpark snuggled in amongst the highrises, escaping which leads us into . . .
. . . a blocks-long complex called Fitger's. It's apparently got everything, including a pricey-ish hotel (Fitger's Inn), Fitger's Brewhouse (brewery and grille), Fitger's Wine Cellar, Fitger's Museum, Yellow Bike Coffee Fitgers, a Trailfitters sporting clothes shop, the Boat Club restaurant, a fitness centre, a pet store, a kitchen supply store, a Mexican restaurant, and more (including 'law offices'). Be there or be square.
It's all extremely attractive. And clean. (And not too crowded.)
You can watch them actually brewing the beer of your choice.
And the Brewhouse Beer Store even has 'craft snacks!' And shirts with logos on.
And several worthy public service campaign messages
And, to top it off, here on the patio is the Crank & Dasher ice cream establishment ('creating artisanal ice creams & signature baked goods') . Presently closed. Next time!
Fitger's clearly has a history in Duluth, and has made good use of the premises.
The lower Lakewalk seen from the ice cream shop's extended patio over the shoreline
But now we've burst out onto the street, the main street in fact, E. Superior St, having got past the small city of many enormous buildings of Essentia Health-Duluth (three blocks down from the many buildings of the St Luke's Hospital), and having walked along for a few blocks directly on top of I35 without knowing it, and we're relaxing now in front of the enormous 11-story towers (with 100 rooms) of the Sheraton Duluth Hotel, so we'll now proceed towards W. Superior St.
And what to our utter delight should we happen to run into -- the famous Duluth Trading Co. itsownself. One of us is devoted to the Duluth Trading Co. shoes and T-shirts, purchased on-line by the other of us, and here we are, apparently at the HQ, a veritable mecca, like an accidental pilgrimage.
So it looks like any other clothes store, to be honest, but really, it isn't. If the seams pop out on one of their shoes, you just send them a photo and they replace them for free, and the good news goes on from there.
There's the storied Duluth Skywalk (PDF map), which courses its way (heated when required) up and down and left and right all over this city. There are probably many days (though thankfully not this one) when that could be super-appreciated.
The Greysolon Plaza is a ballroom for weddings & what not (already with '800 custom weddings'), featuring a Moorish Room, and also, separately, '150 spacious one-bedroom apartment homes, many with breathtaking views of Lake Superior,' stuck on top of it, courtesy of the former Hotel Duluth. In 'the Renaissance style lobby, you’ll feel the elegance of the original gold leaf ceiling, crystal chandeliers, carved rosettes and Corinthian columns'. (We'll need to think it over for a few days, if that's all right.) .
The Zeitgeist Teatro Zuccone, with its electronic messaging caught at 'Improv: Friday nights', photographed to show to our young relative Taya, a promising improv artist, though we forgot to do that, but here it is.
Here's a brief look at the upper lakewalk -- with a bit more precision, it's the 'Lake Place Park'. Lovely, and seasonally green.
This comes as a welcome brief relief from the hustle (and the bustle) of E. Superior St, to which we're now returning, despite those stately vertical deathtraps in front of us. (In fact, those are the '150 spacious one-bedroom apartment homes' in the Greysolon.)(If that's a derisive reference to Solon, the 6th century BC Athenian lawgiver, we've been told that he was bald. Like Socrates.)
Ah, we're entering the 'Old Downtown'.
And what would any Old Downtown be without its prominent casino, especially one that's clever enough . . .
. . . to have come up with that groanworthy double pun.
The Temple Opera Block (and Opera House) 'was originally constructed to be one of the Zenith City’s grand architectural statements at the time of Duluth’s rebirth', built in 1889 ('Extant (mostly)'), and once stood seven stories tall with a copper onion dome on top, for some reason that may have made sense at the time. Now it's just another bank.
All you can eat sushi (but why?), and Wasabi ('poke bowl, eat in & carry out' ['or carry out'?]. That's called 'brownstone', it seems.
That's advertised as the Historic Arts & Theatre District, but actually that appears to be a parking garage. (We were fooled, too -- they must just be referring to the whole neighborhood. Very misleading.)
More historic brownstones. No wait, that's the Wasabi, it's the same brownstones.
And there they are again.
Chinese Dragon of Duluth, Huckleberry, and Old Town Antiques & Books, presently listed on Google Maps as Brass Bed Antiques (you get to choose). We'd been waiting for some sort of recognition from the schmoozing counter staff of Duluth Coffee Company Cafe & Roastery behind us here, but since that didn't work out at all, after some while we've moved on down the street.
That big . . . thing . . . is the Historic Central High School of Duluth (conspicuously unlike the Pascack Regional High School in Hillsdale, New Jersey, lo! these many years ago). Unleashed in 1892, 'an example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, it occupies an entire city block and sports a 210-foot (64 m) clock tower'. [But why?]
Keep up the good work. Can we donate?
Oooh, a 'family sauna'. What's that like then?
We're approaching a trans-harboring skywalk and tiring. But Lady Ocelot's Emporium ('a place of magick', in an innovative spelling) looks worth a peek, so we may protract our visit a very wee tiny bit.
About CCU College ('of Hair, Skin & Nails') we have not much to contribute, but Men as Peacemakers is a worthy charitable organization, founded in 1996, 'building safe communities through programs that address and undermine the root causes of violence against women and children'.
We've just stopped in here to have a look about, and got horribly lost and are relieved to be outside again, so now . . .
. . . we'll grab the Skywalk back across the Interstate, through the DECC convention centres complex, and go have lunch.
More downtown Duluth photos here