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Mystery Photo #67: Duluth?


 
A few years ago I came across this photo, saved it on my computer with just the title “Duluth,” and then forgot about it. I probably didn’t know much about it then, or maybe wasn’t even certain it was a photo of Duluth.

So … that’s all we’ve got to go on with this Mystery Photo. It looks 1800s-ish. Could be Superior Street. Can anyone verify this as a Duluth photo?

11 Comments

Mike Creger

about 3 weeks ago

Only RP Osgood (building at left) I could find was in Windsor, Vermont.

Tony D.

about 3 weeks ago

Sure looks like Superior Street in the 1870s based on others I've seen. Look for the UMD Martin Library Archives on MNReflections and search for the photographs of Paul B. Gaylord—resembles his work....

Paul Lundgren

about 3 weeks ago



Tony, I think you are right on. It does indeed look like half of a stereoview the likes of which Paul Gaylord shot many of back in the day. And the one above looks to be a similar scene with the same trees on the hillside and the same wooden walkway on the building at right. The view here is looking east from the 100 block of West Superior Street. The Clark House Hotel is on the left. The mystery photo appears be have been shot just a bit farther west.

The only thing that's bothering me is it seems like we should also be able to see the Clark House in the mystery photo, but I can't spot it.

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 3 weeks ago

That white building in the middle doesn't look quite the same; not the same number of windows/length. Maybe a block down or so?

Northern_Owlbear

about 3 weeks ago

The building on the hill, with the two trees framing it's front and back in your photo Paul looks like the same building just to the right of the top of The Clark House Hotel in the photo that you found.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 weeks ago



I didn't mean the Clark House should be up front on the left of the mystery photo, I meant it should be down the road a bit but still visible. (So the two white buildings wouldn't be the same.) The comparison above is how I thought the two images lined up -- in which case the Clark House would be on the left edge of the left image ... but it isn't -- and other parts don't quite seem to line up.

Below is a comparison on the house Owl Bear mentioned. The angle of the two photos is a little different, so it's I guess it might be hard to match anything up too closely.

Roger Nesje

about 3 weeks ago

That's the First Presbyterian Church in your posted photo on the hillside. I'm positive it's Duluth. Most likely the Clark House wasn't built yet in your mystery photo.

Matthijs

about 3 weeks ago

This should help. The documentary Lost Duluth (available on Youtube) uses a photo that is cropped differently but must have been taken at almost the exact same time and place as our mystery photo (all the construction debris in the street matches up, but the angle looking down the street is just slightly different). The documentary uses use the photo to illustrate the state of Superior Street at the start of the population boom in 1869 (although the documentary never states the precise year of the photo). The Clark House was built in 1870, so it could reasonably be from just before construction started. The photo used in the documentary is a bit sharper and may contain information that could help us know more about both photos.
 

Paul Lundgren

about 3 weeks ago



Yes, Matthjis has nailed it. Above is a cropped comparison, with color adjustment to achieve better symmetry. At left, the mystery photo, at right the Lost Duluth photo. It seems both are circa 1969, before Clark House Hotel was built.

Matthijs

about 3 weeks ago

I think everyone who commented above really solved this, but taking everyone's suggestions together seems to give a rather clear answer. 



Using Tony's suggestion of looking in the MNreflection archives, this large panorama photo from 1870 clearly shows the area of the mystery photo on the right with the Clark House several blocks to the west.



Another photo labeled as "Superior Street buildings at First Avenue east from Minnesota Point, Duluth, Minnesota" from June of 1870 shows many of the same buildings from the mystery photo at a different angle, but with a much lower building density than we can see in the mystery photo.



This photo from around 1873 seems to have about the same building density with a clear image of the old First Presbyterian Church at 231 E. Second St., visible in the background of the mystery photo as stated by Roger. 



Finally, the photo used in the Lost Duluth documentary that must have been taken on the same day because all the construction material in the street is in the exact same position in both photos shows the relationship of the street to the railroad tracks and harbor.

All of which suggests the mystery photo was taken looking east down Superior street toward First Avenue East around 1873.

Matthijs

about 2 weeks ago

Thanks for adding the links and photos, Paul. One of the more interesting things I noticed in looking at all the old photos of Superior Street was the visibility of the sign for the Minnesotian, Duluth's first newspaper. It's just beyond the avenue in the mystery photo and I tried to use it as a reference point, but it kept showing up in different places. The top two photos are from the same location as in the Mystery Photo. The bottom left photo is on First Avenue itself and the bottom right photo is just down the street from the Clark House. It seems like that sign got moved around a lot over six years of publication.
 

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