Duluth Once Upon a Time: The Northern National Bank

Duluth Savings Bank was established on Oct. 30, 1902 — 120 years ago today — and took the name Northern National Bank in 1909, a year before the Alworth Building, Duluth’s tallest commercial high-rise, was built. Northern National Bank occupied the main floor of the Alworth. The card above jokes that 40 years before the Alworth a two-story structure on West Superior Street was “Duluth’s First Skyscraper.”

Northern National Bank became Northern City National Bank in the 1950s.

From 1957 to 1980 the Alworth Building sported a glowing NC sign representing the bank. A merger resulted in the new First Bank, which moved to 130 W. Superior St. in 1988 and in 1998 became U.S. Bank.

6 Comments

Matthew James

about 1 month ago

I'm not sure how I feel about immediately recognizing two long gone buildings in a bad print of a blurred copy of a photo from 1869, but since I did, I might as well share the reference. This somewhat later photo from almost the same perspective shows that the building on the left was occupied by William Branch, dealer in real estate. The skyscraper on the right looks like it's still waiting for a tenant.

Ghist1

about 1 month ago

True history nerd cred, Matthew! My question: What building or vantage point were those two photos taken from? Because I think they were on very different days; the first one looks like the building on the right is under construction. Was there a tall building across the street?

Ghist1

about 1 month ago



And for what it's worth, here's the ACTUAL photo that image was taken from.

Ghist1

about 1 month ago



And here is likely where the photo was taken from. These were some pretty nice "skyscrapers" as well. 

Matthew James

about 1 month ago

That's funny. I had noticed it was a different photo taken from almost the exact same perspective and was thinking there must be a reason for that. But because you can't see what's behind the camera, it's hard to know what made that particular spot easy to take pictures from. 

I also recognized the buildings that you suggested as the location of the photographer because both of these building groups were part of a post I did several years ago on digitally cleaning up old Duluth photos. When you brighten these images, it's clear they both face away from the harbor -- all these businesses are on the same side of the street. What I hadn't realized until this discussion here is that they are neighbors, which becomes clear when you place the photos side by side.
  

Matthew James

about 1 month ago

That still leaves the question of where the photographer was, but your photo link came with an address and it turns out that a rather tall, long and famous building was across the street from all these businesses in 1869: The Clark House. In the photo below, the detailing of the facade matches the far right building quite well. I'm actually a bit surprised that we could start with a blurry image and then reconstruct nearly the entirety of a long gone city block from 1869. And glad that I retained something from all the work that I put into that post three years ago.
  

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