What was the WEBC Traffic Tower?

According to the Duluth News Tribune, this WEBC Traffic Tower was located in a glass enclosure on the roof of the building on the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue West and Superior Street.

That puts it where the Maurices headquarters is today. Does anyone know more about this building or why there would need to be a traffic tower in our little town? This was long before I-35, but still …

This image was found in Media History Digital Library.



about 1 year ago

I'm learning so much from your posts David. I never knew the Duluth showcased in these advertisements nor had I seen examples of such a competitive spirit of self-promotion. In the 1980s, it was the opposite. The '90s got a little better and gradually an entrepreneurial culture took root and voilà! the Lincoln Park Craft District was born -- organically, without city hall subsidy. Your exploration of the media exhibits more than the advent of various radio and TV stations. It reveals a city that was enterprising, confident and top tier in the "Northwest" with aspirations of national preeminence. I still believe in the possibilities. Thank you!

David Beard

about 1 year ago

Your thoughts and feedback make the whole excavation worthwhile.  

There is a ton of stuff about Duluth a hundred years ago or more on the Zenith site, which I love.

But this is later, and I wondered whether it would find a home and reader. Thanks for making it feel worthwhile.  

And yeah, honestly, the optimism here is something I find so attractive. I want to live in this city, too, even if it was a dream more than the lived reality.


about 1 year ago

I'm also enjoying reading these. Thanks for posting. 

I feel in some ways that PDD is vaguely anachronistic: it came out before Facebook and Twitter, and was (for several years) the main way that I kept up on the comings-and-goings of my friends. I think that as the rise of social media occurred, it's became less of a community/personal blog, but it still remains a major depository of cool stuff that I love to look at. So thanks for continuing to put up great stuff.

Matthew James

about 1 year ago

It always takes a little extra effort to comment but I thought that I would also add that I've enjoyed seeing a new source tapped for a somewhat different perspective on Duluth history. I actually clicked on this story again because I saw the additional comments and was interested in some more context on that strange broadcasting booth. I like the idea of downtown being so busy that someone thought it needed something like an air traffic control tower. 

I'll add in that extra context myself by quoting from a 1997 UWS master's thesis on the history of WEBC:

To increase the visibility of WEBC's deejays, a glass-walled on-air studio was built on the roof of the WEBC Building, 4 stories above Superior Street. It was called the WEBC Traffic Tower. The listening public could see, and wave to, the deejay. The deejay, for his part, shivered in the cold and sweltered in the summer sun in the greenhouse-like box on the roof (Latto, 1997). Also on the rooftop was a mast with the WEBC Weather Beacon, a light that could be color-coded to the forecast. The announcer would point out that the Weather Beacon was flashing red or a steady yellow -- whichever indicated what the forecast predicted. If they knew the code, passers-by could get a forecast at a glance, and at the same time, a reminder that WEBC was providing the service (R. Johnson, 1997).

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