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Duluth vs. Superior

On almost every point, Superior suffers by comparison. Duluth has 90,000 inhabitants; Superior has 30,000. Duluth has some of the most impressive nineteenth-century architecture in the Midwest; Superior is famous for asphalt shingles and insulbrick. Duluth is known for first-rate medical facilities; Superior has an oil refinery. Duluth has Spirit Mountain and a ski jump; Superior is flat as a turkey platter. Superior is clearly inferior to Duluth, but if you like an underdog, you have to love that town across the harbor. I sure do.

–Barton Sutter, from “Sister City,” an essay in his book Cold Comfort: Life at the Top of the Map

21 Comment(s)

  1. Traffic getting a little slow with the warm weather? (:

    mlatsch | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  2. Oddly enough, traffic on PDD tends to increase in the summer, although you wouldn’t think it would.

    But yeah, I do feel a bit like stoking controversy this morning. Duluth and Superior have really been getting along great in the past decade. There has been a solid spirit of cooperation instead of competition throughout the region. It’s all very good and productive and boring, isn’t it?

    I like it even better when segments of particular neighborhoods within the same city brag of their exceptionalism. I mean seriously, the Irving part of West Duluth is so much better than the Oneota part of West Duluth. Don’t you think? Denfeld vs. Upper Cody? — Don’t even get me started!

    Paul Lundgren | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  3. To me it reads

    Duluth is more crowded then Superior
    Duluth is older looking then Superior
    Duluth is anti business
    Duluth’s hills in the winter are a bitch

    I don’t get how that makes Superior an underdog. I agree with Paul in that this type of stuff is really pointless.

    Conrad | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  4. To speak kindly of Superior,

    1. There are some amazing neighborhoods and homes in the Billings Park and East End at very nice entry points.

    2. Community leaders and organizations are discussing and planning bike lanes, sidewalks, and other initiatives to green and add curb appeal to the community.

    3. Major corporations and employment opportunities in manufacturing exist in Superior. Those companies just fly below the radar a bit -- like Barco, Genesis, Exodus.

    4. Wisconsin Point has a serious dearth of tourists, making it pretty nice during the blistering summer months.

    adam | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  5. My point-by-point comparison of Minnesota and Wisconsin points from a 2006 Lake Superior Magazine story:

    Housing: Minnesota Point has about 500 homes. Wisconsin Point has two lighthouse-keeper residences. Advantage: Wisconsin.

    Lighthouses: Wisconsin Point has a 90-year-old lighthouse at the shipping canal between the two cities. Minnesota Point has a crumbling, decrepit, 148-year-old lighthouse in the middle of the woods, along the Park Point Hiking Trail. It was saved from demolition because it marks the official Zero Point for all surveys of Lake Superior and is the oldest remaining architecture in Duluth. Advantage: Minnesota on that one.

    Traffic: Minnesota Point has about as much traffic as a normal street in Duluth, sometimes congested when the Aerial Lift Bridge is up. Wisconsin Point generally has two to nine cars at any given time. Advantage: Wisconsin.

    Public beaches: Minnesota Point has several public beaches, including one with a beach house, volleyball courts and lifeguards. Wisconsin Point has no designated public beach; it’s all wide open with no artificial amenities. Advantage: Kind of a tie. It depends on what you’re into.

    Paul Lundgren | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  6. 5. You have to admit driving past Fraser Shipyards warms your heart during winter layup and gets one all sentimental about our maritime history.

    adam | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Superior has Craig Rhode.

    Starfire | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  8. Yes, Superior has an ample supply of payday loan storefronts and empty lots… but you can buy booze on Sundays and have fires on the beach. Advantage Wisconsin.

    RightElbow | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  9. “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

    secretseasons | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Can I just add: Barton Sutter: beautiful language, offputting authorial presence? | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  11. It might not be the “cool” side of the bridge to live on, but my house is on a nice sized lot with a big yard in a quiet neighborhood and I didn’t pay a lot for it. I think Superior rules.

    sean42 | Jun 7, 2012 | New Comment
  12. I think most Duluthians are letting you Superiors have this one. Maybe we aren’t clever enough to think of good reasons Duluth trumps Superior or we just need to let you win from time to time.

    (dlh mayor is d ness sup ??: adv dlh; dlh has a lakewalk sup has barkers island: adv dlh; sup has mariner mall dlh has miller hill mall: adv toss up depending on what you’re looking for…. ;-) )

    De man | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  13. ps: The entirety of my previous post was in jest. This is two cities, weirdly separated by a lake and a state line. Gotta love going to mom or dad…

    De man | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  14. Well, if you’re 90-years-old and need a place to get your daily exercise on a crappy day, I guess the Mariner Mall might be what you’re looking for…

    Tom | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Souptown area has Mt Du Lac. Much cooler bar there than Spirit but have you seen the mega hilltop chalet/house/restaurant at Mt Du? Kinda reminds me of that doctor’s house on the ridgeline looking over Lester like a blight to the landscape.

    Superior has Dogfish Head beer.

    digit3 | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  16. If you are still buying Dogfish Head in Superior then you are buying old stock. DFH pulled out of WI about a year ago.

    nicolai | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  17. It’s pretty lame that any city that isn’t completely devoid of character and decent zoning standards is labelled “anti-business.”

    Codie | Jun 8, 2012 | New Comment
  18. 6.) Superior is living up to it’s name. apparently.

    or at least that’s what the sign says. | Jun 9, 2012 | New Comment
  19. I don’t think you can compare Mont du Lac to the blight on Skyline if only because they are doing it to enhance many people’s experience instead of putting up a giant wall on one of the best views on all of skyline. Reagan’s voice goes through my head every time I make that corner “tear down this wall” and I hate Reagan.

    Conrad | Jun 10, 2012 | New Comment
  20. Ha. I see I mixed up my blight. Sorry

    Conrad | Jun 10, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Where in Superior can you get Doghead Fish.

    Ruthie | Jun 10, 2012 | New Comment

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