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Tallest Structure in Duluth

Here’s a question to contemplate: What is the tallest standing structure within Duluth city limits?

Here’s what I was thinking for determining this: The tallest height should be relative to the starting point of the structure in the ground. So a structure that begins on a higher elevation does not have advantage. Also, “ground” can be defined as the Lake bottom, so a structure could begin on the Lake bottom, but the footings (or anything underneath the ground [or Lake bottom]) wouldn’t be part of the equation.

The Duluth Arial Lift Bridge is pretty high (177 feet), but other higher buildings and structures are clearly in view.

34 Comment(s)

  1. As far as I know, the Alworth Building at 306 W. Superior St. has been Duluth’s tallest building since its construction in 1910. It is 16 stories tall; 247 feet.

    But is there a taller structure? Maybe one of the radio towers.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  2. By the way, the new PDD Headquarters will be a bit shorter than the Alworth Building, coming in at just 15 stories.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  3. I am exactly 17 stories tall.

    brian | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  4. I thought the phone company tower thing was tallest. It’s got the microwave dishes and what-not. I have also been known to ride a particularly high horse which might be in competition…

    TimK | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  5. Apparently this Verizon tower is 143 meters, or 470 feet, tall.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  6. Okay, the phone company lists at 241.94 feet, so at 247, the Alworth Building has the goods.

    TimK | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  7. The antennas up at the antenna farm above Observation Hill? Not buildings, but they are structures.

    dbb | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  8. The Holcim cement silo on Rice’s Point.

    sliderule | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  9. According to the Seaway Port Authority’s website, Holcim’s facility was built in 1980 and “measures 284 feet from the ground to the top of the superstructure -- the tallest building in Duluth/Superior and surrounding area.”

    Alworth Building, Smallworth Building.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Cement silo, shement silo.

    According to this source, WDIO’s tower is 255.5 meters tall, which translates to 838.3 feet.


    Barrett Chase | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  11. I can tell 20 stories, but they all end with awkward silence.

    Adem | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  12. I think the new PDD building can win this if you guys just put a giant King Kong/Fay Wray on top of the roof. Plus it will look really cool.

    On the other hand, that bear that Baci saw is pretty tall too, so you may have some stiff competition.

    emmadogs | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Just adding my support to Adem’s comment. Awkward silences are his specialty.

    Fitz | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  14. Great info here! I had no idea the Alworth Building had such fame. It was the tallest building in Minnesota (eclipsing Minneapolis and St. Paul buildings) for several years. Go Duluth tycoons!

    The PDD building will look great in downtown Duluth. But it would look better as a floating island just off of one of the empty slips in West Duluth.

    I can’t say I’ve every really noticed that cement silo, now I’ll pay more attention to it — base jump anyone?

    When I was asking this, I was hoping to find the height of the tallest tower and building. Accomplished.

    Only one question of mine is still unanswered. What is the height of the Bong or the Blatnik from the base of the structure under the bay to the highest point? I’m thinking it’s higher than 284 feet.

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Ok, so between the two, the Blatnik is the obvious winner. It is listed as 123 feet above the water—but that’s just water surface to bottom of bridge, clearance. What is the total height?

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  16. Wikipedia says the Blatnik Bridge is 120 feet above the water. That’s probably just the clearance height underneath, not the height to the top of the arch.

    No height is listed on the Bong Bridge entry, but this site lists it as 120 feet as well. Further down on the page, it claims that the “bridge deck” is 150 feet above the water, and that “the top of the arch is approximately 75 feet above the highway deck.” So I’m guessing the Bong Bridge is approximately 225 feet high at its highest point and that the Blatnik Bridge is roughly the same.

    Barrett Chase | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  17. @Barrett, I think that is short of what it used to be then. I remember it fell in 1991, and Wiki lists it as being …

    283.3 meters at the time—850 feet tall.

    Wow. From the Wiki clip: “the DNR reported that four million pine trees were damaged or destroyed.”

    If a radio tower falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  18. 1. Sometimes the listed height of transmitters is their “height above average terrain.”

    2. 283.3 meters = 929.5 feet, not 850

    3. Could you link to this Wiki entry? Four million trees seems like a suspect number as well.

    Barrett Chase | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Okay, here’s the NOAA’s website, backing up the claim of four million pine trees damaged by the falling tower.

    Barrett Chase | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  20. Ah! Thank you. The old WDIO tower was 929.5 feet tall. That’s a long fall.

    This Wiki page does seem to have scattered areas of incomplete information.

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  21. That page lists the old tower at 259.1 meters, which is 850 feet. Hm. Seems like some kind of mixup in all of this but you had the right number of feet the first time.

    At any rate, it seems clear that the tallest structure in Duluth is by far the WDIO transmission tower. The tallest structure that has ever stood in Duluth is the old WDIO tower that fell in the spring of 1991. The tallest building is the Alworth Building. And the tallest bridge is still up for debate, since the Bong and Blatnik bridges seem to be pretty close in height.

    Barrett Chase | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  22. My bad. Too much coffee.

    The National Weather Service lists the same on their page.

    I’ve got an email out to MDOT to figure out the full height of the bridge, from the base of the footing to the top. Or we could just add the depth of the bay …

    How deep is the bay?

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  23. I interpreted the NOAA page to mean that 4 million trees were damaged by the ice storm, not by the falling tower.

    pinkos | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  24. The Blatnik bridge is approx. 210′ from the highest point to the surface of the water. The Bong bridge is approx. 209′ from the highest point to the surface of the water. Estimated using LiDAR data from the MN Elevation Mapping Project The shipping channel is approx 30′ deep under both bridges.

    matty_pizza | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  25. @Pinkos I concur with your interpretation.

    TomK | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  26. @pinkos, correct.
    @matty_pizza, great info.

    I’m really surprised that the Blatnik is the shortest of all these structures.

    I think we have it now. Here’s a chart.

    We didn’t miss anything out at the airport, did we?

    forthetime_being | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  27. I’d like to know the actual height of the WDIO tower, as opposed to the height above average terrain.

    Barrett Chase | Jul 18, 2012 | New Comment
  28. I love this.

    RightElbow | Jul 19, 2012 | New Comment
  29. The highest point of the Aerial Lift Bridge is approx. 229′ above the surface of the water. Again, the shipping channel is around 30′ deep under the bridge.

    matty_pizza | Jul 20, 2012 | New Comment
  30. Leo Bennett is the shortest structure in Duluth. He’s also the cutest. | Jul 21, 2012 | New Comment
  31. Going back to the first comments on this post…I wonder if the new PDD headquarters will actually be taller than the Alworth building. The sketches show a tall, pointy roof thingamajigger (technical term) that looks like it could certainly be more than a story tall. It will also depend on how tall each story ends up being — stories are not a universal measurement.

    Tom | Jul 21, 2012 | New Comment
  32. No, really. | Jul 26, 2012 | New Comment
  33. A new upset!

    I just heard back from an MDOT D1 Bridge Engineer. This is what he had to say:

    I heard you were inquiring on the height of the Blatnik Bridge. It is 251’ from the bottom of the main channel piers to the top of the arch, not including piling. Or assuming the commonly used ‘average’ St. Louis river water elevation of 602’ it reaches about 211’ above the water level.

    The Bong Bridge is a close second with a total max height of 250’, with about 209’ of that above the water level.

    This upsets our previous chart, making the Blatnik Bridge taller than the Alworth Building. The revised list .

    I wonder what the tallest residential building in Duluth is …

    forthetime_being | Jul 27, 2012 | New Comment
  34. According to this list, the tallest buildings in Duluth are:

    1. Alworth Building (247)
    2. Medical Arts Building (191)
    3. Greysolon Plaza (190)
    4. Wells Fargo Building (152)
    5. Sheraton Duluth & Condominiums (140)
    6. Board of Trade Building (136)
    7. US Bank Place (120) 

    Barrett Chase | Oct 11, 2012 | New Comment

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