Duluth (dəlōthˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 85,493), seat of St. Louis co., NE Minn., at the west end of Lake Superior, at the head of lake navigation and opposite Superior, Wis.; inc. 1870. It is a commercial, industrial, and cultural center of N Minnesota, as well as a major port on the Great Lakes, a convention headquarters, and the gateway to a resort region. Large amounts of grain, iron ore (especially taconite), oil, and bulk cargo are shipped on lake freighters and ocean vessels. The diverse industries include fish processing and grain elevator services, and the manufacture of steel, concrete, piping, chemical lime, paper, and hand tools. Tourism is important, and the military air-defense installation at Duluth International Airport is valuable to the economy.
Native American settlements were found there in the 1670s by the early explorers and fur traders, including the sieur Duluth (for whom the city was named). Permanent settlement began c.1852. Built largely on rocky bluffs overlooking the lake, the city was at first a trade and shipping center for the timber country. Discovery of iron (1865) in the Mesabi range made it the chief ore-shipping point for the nation's steel mills. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway (1959), it became one of the leading ports on the Great Lakes for the export of grain.
Duluth is the seat of the College of St. Scholastica, the Duluth Institute of Technology, and a branch of the Univ. of Minnesota. It has a symphony orchestra, a community theater, and various museums. Of interest are the huge Aerial Lift Bridge, linking the city to 7 mi (11.3 km) of sand beach on Park Point; the Skyline Blvd., winding high above the city for 15 mi (24 km); and Leif Erikson Park.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.