Postcard from First Street

1st st crop

This is one of the ways I see the city I love. I saw the shoes hanging from the wire, the clock tower, and that brilliant blue sky and I needed a picture.

We were in a hurry to get to church just around the corner, but I snapped a couple with my phone cam. These shots won’t ever be a postcard, but maybe they should be.

It’s interesting to see church-goers and 1st street types mix on that corner out in front of the “Royal” Kozy and the Clayton Jackson McGhie memorial. But it happens every Sunday around 11 am, sometimes other times, too.

I have been thinking about the many layers to life on 1st street a lot the last several months. Not only do I worship there, but I also have an office nearby, and I do lots of work along the whole length of the street and throughout downtown. Plus I live just a few blocks away, so I drive it a lot, too. Oh I know it pretty well by now. I guess the chanber of commerce or the downtown council is doing some sort of a 1st st initiative this year. I’d be tempted to pooh pooh it here, but I appreciate their interest and I have an open mind about it. Plus, I finally met Dave Ross in person about a month ago and he really impressed me and I trust that he really does want to do what’s best for the city and has integrity about that desire even if I may occasionally (or often) disagree with his methods or philosophy. But politics aside, and back to 1st st …

It’s a place of great contrasts. It is not easily categorized or reduced to sound bytes. It is beauty and sorrow, poverty and prosperity, love and loss, all of that and much more. 1st street is part of the Duluth I see, and this captures it for me … some …



about 15 years ago

JP, I used to work on 1st st and 1st ave east, at a publishing company housed in the bldg for women and you really capture the essence of 1st street, especially in your last sentence. It indeed is a difficult street to categorize. There's a lot of sadness and poverty on that street, but also a lot of laughter. A lot of anger, but also a lot of love and cameraderie. Anti-abortion protesters marching around the BFW while drunks try to avoid them, making a beeline for the liquor store. We'd walk along 1st st. to Paper Hog, and there were always characters outside the bar that used to stand on the corner of Lake and 1st. They'd always say the oddest things to us and we half suspected they might have been actors secretly filming our reactions to their oddness -- a la Candid Camera. I sometimes miss 1st St before the wrecking ball destroyed some of those ramshackle buldings and those characters went elsewhere. But glad to see the street life hasn't been diminished, despite the huge parking ramps along the street east of Lake. I honestly had more frightening encounters with the anti-abortion protesters (one of whom chased after me into the BFW once, yelling, "You'll have the blood of your murdered child on your hands," when I was like 6-7 months pregnant), than I ever did with the people hanging around outside the Kozy or any of the other bars. It sure is one colorful neighborhood.


about 15 years ago

if you want to send it as a postcard for free, use

they put a small ad on the back of the card (which you can choose) and the sender gets it in about a week.  i've used it quite a few times and have always been happy with it.  the ads are family friendly too.

Budgeteer Reporter Matthew R. Perrine

about 15 years ago

I too enjoy taking pictures at this spot:


about 15 years ago

Speaking of the 1st street characters; has anyone else ever encountered the woman on 1st street who talks to you as she walks by and just says really positive things like "You have a beautiful day!"?


about 15 years ago

welcome to the 
Not-Mister-Rogers-Hood and
im a cartoon

those shoes have been there a long time. 
i think it means somethin about dope being available. 

next time youre around, note the video camera atop the Kozy Bar, pointing at the rooftop. i marvel at the sight. everything here is like props. surreal. and its a bitch living downtown. im not so worried about the ghetto goings on.. 

what concerns me are men driving in circles round the one-ways looken for a date.  its flippin crazy. A non-hooker chick cant walk anywhere without being stalked by those magpies. 

theres not anything to worry about regarding prostitution in duluth. theyre not hurting anyone..  ive heard THAT before.

ever seen the desert? you dont want to. 
nor would your wife or daughter. 

think about it. 

thats my $.02 about shoes

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