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Mystery Photo #70: East Superior Street in 1908

This photo from Detroit Publishing Company is dated 1908 — 110 years ago — although some evidence in the comments to this post indicate suggest it could have been shot prior to that year. It depicts a scene on East Superior Street in Duluth. The mysteries: What block? Are the homes in the image still there? Can someone recreate the mystery photo with a modern image from the same spot?

9 Comments

Don Kozlovski

about 3 months ago

Second home on left appears to be same as upper west corner of 21st E... but no avenue visible here? Built in 1904. First home on left not same as current, but that was built in 1908.

hbh1

about 3 months ago

I recognized that house immediately as well. I think the avenue is visible, as you can see the equivalent of a curb cut across the street. It's just that 21st Ave E was not the major and wide thoroughfare then that is is now. I mean, 21st is a major street now because of the highway and there were probably traffic reasons for it ending there when the highway was built. But back in 1908, there would have been no major reason for 21st to be the main street to Woodland. The Woodland streetcar was at Fourth Street and went up at Fourth St and 20th.

Tim White

about 3 months ago

Er, 1908 would've been 110 years ago.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 months ago

Doh! That's fixed now. Thanks Tim!

Matthijs

about 3 months ago

I think Don found another mystery in the mystery photo. Everyone seems in agreement that the house on the end of the block is the Crosby House. As HBH noted, the avenue is hidden by the hill and can be seen more clearly in this photo from around the same time. 



Also, if anyone is interested in living in a mystery photo, it’s for sale at the moment, and it looks like the interior has changed as little as the exterior.

The house next to it is the Bunnell House, constructed from 1906 to 1908. Except the house in the Mystery Photo from 1908 is clearly not the Bunnell House and therefore the photo must not be from 1908. The photo must be from after the Crosby House went up in 1902 but before the house next to it became a construction site for the Bunnell house in 1906. 

So that leads to the most likely unanswerable question of when the photo was actually taken and why that rather new-looking house in the foreground had such a brief existence.

hbh1

about 3 months ago

The Bunnells owned that property before the "new" Bunnell house was built. Without doing a more thorough search for various biographical details, it seems to me that the elder Bunnell died around the turn of the century and that the younger Bunnell decided he wanted a grander house than dear old dad.

Matthijs

about 3 months ago

That makes sense. And I think it’s also possible to make a reasonable conclusion about when and why the photo was taken. According to a report commissioned by the Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission, Superior Street was paved between 16th and 23rd avenue east in 1904. As the focus of the photo is the block itself and not any particular house, it seems likely that the picture was taken to commemorate the completion of the street work.

Karasu

about 3 months ago

The date stamp looks more like 1906 to me, though the resolution isn't really there to say for sure. Of course "070607" could also be the date.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 months ago



The copyright date is clearly 1908 when zoomed in, but that doesn't verify for certain the photo was shot that year. 070607 is the cataloging number used for the image by Detroit Publishing Co.

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