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Duluth: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Principal manufacturing firms in Duluth include heavy and light manufacturing plants, food processing plants, woolen mills, lumber and paper mills, cold storage plants, fisheries, grain elevators, and oil refineries. The city is also a regional center for banking, retailing, and medical care for northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan, and northwestern Ontario, Canada. More than 8,000 jobs in Duluth are directly related to the hospital industry. Arts and entertainment offerings as well as year-round recreation in a natural environment have contributed to expansion of the tourist industry in Duluth. Some 3.5 million visitors each year contribute $400 million to the local economy.

Items and goods produced: steel, cement, metal and wood products, electrical equipment, textiles, prepared foods.

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Duluth Department of Planning and Development is responsible for overseeing Duluth's growth. Its Business Development Division is the focus of the city's efforts to attract new businesses to Duluth and retain existing firms. It promotes overall development in Duluth through agencies such as the Duluth Economic Development Authority, The 1200 Fund, Inc., the Duluth Airport Authority, The Seaway Port Authority of Duluth, Team Duluth, and others. It also coordinates economic development with the State of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

State programs

The Tax Increment Financing Program, a state authorized financing mechanism, is offered to assist basic businesses in financing their local expansion or location. Funds may be used to purchase land and make public improvements that support business development projects. Minnesota also offers programs to provide a mechanism for businesses to sell bonds at tax-exempt interest rates, allowing firms to receive long-term, low interest financing for fixed assets.

Job training programs

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development operates a network of workforce centers throughout the state. This WorkForce Center System, which has an office in Duluth, partners with local businesses to provide customized job training and other workforce development services. Additionally, the University of MinnesotaDuluth houses a College of Engineering and the Natural Resources Research Institute, while both the College of St. Scholastica and Lake Superior College provide customized training.

Development Projects

As the new century gets underway, expansion and retention of existing business continues to be Duluth's major focus. In recent years, more than $2 billion in private and public money has been invested in Duluth's projects. Among these over the past decade are a $20 million Duluth Entertainment Convention Center facility expansion, a $30 million University of MinnesotaDuluth library construction and Weber Music Center project, a $15 million United Health Care Claims processing center, a $26 million Air National Guard aircraft maintenance facility, a $34 million airport improvement program, a $11 million Airpark development project, a $10 million Port Terminal development plan, a $90 million St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic expansion, and a $10 million East First Street parking ramp.

Economic Development Information: Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, 5 W. 1st St., Ste. 101, Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)722-5501; fax (218)722-3223; email [email protected] Duluth Office of Business Development, City Hall, Ste. 400, Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)723-3556

Commercial Shipping

A vital part of the Duluth economy is the Port of Duluth-Superior, which is designated a Foreign Trade Zone and ranks among the top ports in the country in total volume of international and domestic cargo shipped in a 10-month season. An average of 40 million tons of cargo is handled at Duluth-Superior each year. The impact on the local economy is $200 million annually, and some 2,000 jobs are dependent on the port. Duluth-Superior operates one of the largest grain-handling facilities in the world. Grain is the primary export product; domestic shipments consist mainly of iron ore and taconite, in addition to metal products, twine, machinery, coal, cement, salt, newsprint, lumber, and general cargo.

Connecting the port and the city of Duluth with inland markets are five railroads and 26 common motor freight carriers. Air cargo carriers serving Duluth International Airport with daily flights are Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and Northwest Airlines.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Duluth boasts an abundant, quality workforce, as well as a commitment to bringing new and expanded job opportunities into the community. Minnesota has the highest high school graduation rate in the nation; more than 70 percent of Duluth students go on to college or post-secondary education.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Duluth metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 127,800

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 8,300

trade, transportation, and utilities: 25,800

information: 2,500

financial activities: 5,800

professional and business services: 7,100

educational and health services: 24,400

leisure and hospitality: 13,300

other services: 5,900

government: 27,200

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $12.73

Unemployment rate: 6.1% (February 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic 3,800
Duluth Public Schools-ISD #709 1,700
St. Louis County 1,640
University of Minnesota-Duluth 1,571
City of Duluth 1,060
St. Luke's Hospital 1,143

Cost of Living

The median sale price of a home in Duluth during the first quarter of 2004 was $125,000, up from $116,900 in the first quarter of 2003.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Duluth area.

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

State income tax rate: Ranges from 5.85% to 7.85%

State sales tax: 6.5%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0% (food, clothing, and prescription drugs exempt)

Property tax rate: Single family homestead property1.0% times the first $72,000 of estimated market value (EMV) plus 2.0% times the excess over $72,000

Economic Information: Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, 5 W. 1st St., Ste. 101, Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)722-5501; fax (218)722-3223; email commerce @chamber.duluth.mn.us. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 332 Minnesota St., Ste. E200, St. Paul, MN 55101; telephone (612)297-1291; toll-free 800-657-3858

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Duluth: Recreation


The St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center is housed in the 1892 Union Depot, a renovated railroad depot with four levels of history and arts exhibits. On display are antique doll and toy collections, a Victorian parlor, Indian crafts, and Depot Square, a recreation of 1910 Duluth that contains 24 old-time stores, a silent movie theater, and an ice-cream parlor. The old immigration room that once processed newcomers to the United States is preserved in its original condition. Railroad cars and locomotives, including the first locomotive in Minnesota and one of the largest steam locomotives ever built, are on exhibit.

The Canal Park Marine Museum houses exhibits on the history of Lake Superior Shipping, while the Lake Superior Museum of Transportation maintains one of the nation's finest collections of historical railroad equipment. At Lake Superior Zoological Gardens, animals from around the world can be viewed in facilities that include a nocturnal house and a children's zoo. Located on the shore of Lake Superior, Glensheen is a Jacobean-style mansion featuring original furnishings and a collection of carriages and sleighs.

The Skyline Parkway, a 30-mile boulevard above Duluth, provides a dramatic view of the city, the harbor, and Lake Superior. Lake Shore Drive parallels Lake Superior from Duluth to Thunder Bay and is considered one of the most scenic coastal highways in the nation. The Aerial Lift Bridge, which connects Minnesota Point with the mainland and spans Duluth harbor, is one of Duluth's most popular tourist attractions. The present bridge, built in 1930, is the world's largest and fastest lift bridge.

Arts and Culture

The Depot houses eight of Duluth's major arts and cultural institutions. The Duluth Art Institute sponsors major exhibitions in addition to its instructional programs. Rooted in classical ballet with contemporary dance influences, Minnesota Ballet stages three major performance series annually. The Duluth Playhouse, founded in 1914 and one of the nation's oldest community theaters, produces a variety of theatrical presentations. Organized in 1932, the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra presents seven concerts each season, as well as three Pops performances and an annual holiday concert. The Matinee Musicale, Duluth's oldest cultural organization, promotes promising young musicians. The Tweed Museum of Art at the University of MinnesotaDuluth presents historical and contemporary exhibitions in nine galleries and is home to the Sax Sculpture Conservatory.

Festivals and Holidays

The summer season in Duluth features Grandma's Marathon, a run along Lake Superior, and the Park Point Art Fair in June, the Fourth Fest in July, and Bayfront Blues Festival in August. The International Folk Festival presents music, ethnic foods, and dance at Leif Erikson Park in August.

Sports for the Spectator

The University of MinnesotaDuluth competes nationally in Division I hockey, playing a 20-home-game schedule at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). The Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the premier dog race of the lower 48 states, is a 400-mile wilderness race held every winter. The race's route, from Duluth to Grand Portage and back, includes 14 checkpoints along Lake Superior's North Shore.

The Duluth Winter Festival begins at the same time as the Beargrease and runs until the end of January. The Duluth Yacht Club sailboat races from Duluth and Port Wing take place on Labor Day weekend.

Sports for the Participant

Spirit Mountain Recreation Area offers downhill skiing, cross-country trails, tennis, camping, and hiking. Duluth maintains, on 11,000 acres of land, 105 municipal parks and playgrounds, two 27-hole golf courses, 41 tennis courts, 20 baseball and softball fields, and 22 community recreation centers. Athletic leagues are available for softball, basketball, no-check hockey, volleyball, touch football, broomball, and bocce. In addition are 45 miles of snowmobile trails, seven hiking trails, and 44 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails maintained by the city. Residents and visitors can compete in Grandma's Marathon, which is run along the North Shore the third weekend in June. The Fond-Du-Luth Gaming Casino, located in downtown Duluth, is another popular attraction.

Shopping and Dining

The development of Duluth's historic waterfront downtown and the conversion of a local brewery into a hotel, restaurant, and shopping complex on the shore of Lake Superior have modernized Duluth's shopping milieu. The three-mile-long downtown Skywalk system offers protected access to area shops and restaurants. Duluth restaurants offer freshwater fish from Lake Superior. Ethnic cuisine consists principally of Greek, Italian, and Chinese dishes.

Visitor Information: Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau, 21 W. Superior St., Ste. 100, Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)722-4011; toll-free (800)4-DULUTH; email [email protected]

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Duluth: History

Harbor, Timber, and Ore Attract Development

The western Lake Superior area was originally occupied by members of the Sioux and Chippewa tribes. One of the first explorers of European descent to arrive in the area now occupied by Duluth was Frenchman Pierre Esprit Radisson, who explored the region in the 1650s or 1660s. The city was ultimately named, however, for Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (variously spelled Dulhut, Derhaut, and du Luth), who visited the southern shore of Lake Superior in 1679 in an attempt to make peace between the Ojibway and Sioux tribes and to secure trading and trapping rights. A fur trading outlet remained in the area until 1847. The site's first permanent resident was George P. Stuntz, who was attracted by the beautiful wilderness landscape surrounding Lake Superior and settled there in 1852.

In 1854 and 1855 settlers flocked to the unnamed town hoping to discover copper deposits, although the Grand Portage and Fon du Lac people had not yet signed the Treaty of La Pointe that relinquished their mineral rights. In 1856 the village was named Duluth and designated the seat of St. Louis County. Almost immediately Duluth was beset by troubles. The panic of 1857 devastated the economy, and in 1859 a scarlet fever epidemic caused a further setback to the community. By the end of the Civil War, only two houses remained occupied in Duluth.

The town's fortunes were quickly reversed when geologists found iron ore and gold-bearing quartz at nearby Lake Vermillion. Then the Eastern financier Jay Cooke selected Duluth as the northern terminus of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad. Adding to the boom, Maine woodsmen relocated to the region to establish a lumber industry. By 1869 the population of Duluth had grown to 3,500 residents, and the city received its first charter a year later.

Growth Includes New Immigrants

The new prosperity was short-lived, however, as bank and real estate failures hurt the economy and plunged the city government into debt. Duluth was forced to revert to village status. The city's topsy-turvy early history reversed itself once again, however, when the lumbering industry was revitalized and grain business fueled the economy. By 1887 Duluth's population reached 26,000 residents, and the state legislature granted permission for reclassification as a city. Six lakeshore communities were absorbed into the city by the end of the nineteenth century.

Among the settlers who had made Duluth home were immigrants from the Scandinavian countries and Finland, who settled in the city's West End. These people possessed a commitment to cooperative undertakings, a strong sense of individualism, and a respect for organizational arrangementsqualities that have shaped the city's character. In addition to its residents, Duluth is defined by its topography. The natural harbor is the base of the economy and the source of the city's scenic beauty. Duluth, home to institutions of higher learning, a symphony orchestra, a community theater, ballet, and museums, is highly rated among small Midwestern cities for its livability. In 2002 the American Lung Association State of the Air report ranked Duluth number 11 among cities with the cleanest air.

Historical Information: Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Archives, University of Minnesota, 10 University Dr., Duluth, MN 55812; telephone (218)726-8526. Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., Saint Paul, MN 55102-1906; telephone (651)296-6126

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Duluth: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Duluth School District (ISD #709) covers 337 square miles, including Duluth. It offers K-12 education, special services for students with handicaps and special needs, an Early Childhood Family Education program, Head Start, alternative schools, and community education.

The following is a summary of data regarding Duluth public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 10,824

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 13

middle schools: 4

high schools: 3

other: 5 (including magnet, academy, and adult education programs)

Student/teacher ratio: 22.1:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $32,517

maximum: $54,323

Funding per pupil: $7,736 (2002 state figure)

The Marshall School, an independent, coeducational day school, offers college preparatory classes for students in grades 512. Holy Rosary offers Catholic education for grades K8. Lakeview Christian Academy, an interdenomi-national, Christian school, serves students from preschool through grade 12 with a Bible-centered curriculum. Summit School is an independent school for children from kindergarten through grade four.

Public Schools Information: Independent School District #709, 215 N. 1st Ave. E., Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)723-4150

Colleges and Universities

The University of MinnesotaDuluth enrolls 10,300 students and offers a dozen bachelor's degrees in 75 majors, graduate programs in 19 fields, and the first two years of a medical program. The College of St. Scholastica, a private four-year institution enrolling about 3,000 students, has gained recognition in the areas of nursing, management, exercise physiology, health information management, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and education. Lake Superior College offers more than 70 majors to its 8,500 students and operates an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Center and a Computer Flex Lab. Business and medical training and college-level general education is available at Duluth Business University. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet is a joint effort between the Fond du Lac Reservation and the state of Minnesota.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Duluth Public Library houses more than 360,000 volumes, magazines, maps, charts, video and audio recordings, and framed prints; special collections relate to Duluth, the Great Lakes region, and Minnesota. The library, a depository for federal documents, operates two branches. The University of MinnesotaDuluth and the College of St. Scholastica maintain substantial campus libraries. Duluth is home to the Saint Louis County Health Department Library, the Saint Louis County Law Library, the Environmental Protection Agency library, the Karpeles Manuscript Library, and the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Archives, in addition to the libraries of health service and religious organizations.

The Natural Resources Research Institute, affiliated with UMD and staffed by scientists, engineers, and business consultants, conducts research and development projects in fields such as forest products and the environment.

Public Library Information: Duluth Public Library, 520 W. Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)723-3800

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Duluth: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 266,650

1990: 239,971

2000: 243,815

Percent change, 19902000: 1.02%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 146th

City Residents

1980: 92,811

1990: 85,493

2000: 86,918

2003 estimate: 85,734

Percent change, 19902000: 1.01%

U.S. rank in 1980: 184th

U.S. rank in 1990: 243rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 321st (State rank: 4th)

Density: 1,278.1.6 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 80,532

Black or African American: 1,415

American Indian and Alaska Native: 2,122

Asian: 993

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 25

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 921

Other: 251

Percent of residents born in state: 75.1% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 4,695

Population 5 to 9 years old: 4,924

Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,505

Population 15 to 19 years old: 7,886

Population 20 to 24 years old: 9,549

Population 25 to 34 years old: 10,484

Population 35 to 44 years old: 12,222

Population 45 to 54 years old: 11,615

Population 55 to 59 years old: 3,913

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,978

Population 65 to 74 years old: 5,684

Population 75 to 84 years old: 5,116

Population 85 years and over: 2,347

Median age: 35.4 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 1,054

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 2,182 (of which, 10 were infants under the age of 1 year) (St. Louis County data)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $18,969

Median household income: $33,766

Total households: 35,547

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 4,398

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,338

$15,000 to $24,999: 5,465

$25,000 to $34,999: 5,061

$35,000 to $49,999: 5,826

$50,000 to $74,999: 6,334

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,752

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,579

$150,000 to $199,999: 366

$200,000 or more: 428

Percent of families below poverty level: 8.6% (48.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 5,340

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Duluth: Introduction
Duluth: Geography and Climate
Duluth: History
Duluth: Population Profile
Duluth: Municipal Government
Duluth: Economy
Duluth: Education and Research
Duluth: Health Care
Duluth: Recreation
Duluth: Convention Facilities
Duluth: Transportation
Duluth: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1852 (chartered, 1870)

Head Official: Mayor Herb W. Bergson, Jr. (NP) (since 2003)

City Population

1980: 92,811

1990: 85,493

2000: 86,918

2003 estimate: 85,734

Percent change, 19902000: 1.01%

U.S. rank in 1980: 184th

U.S. rank in 1990: 243rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 321st (State rank: 4th)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 266,650

1990: 239,971

2000: 243,815

Percent change, 19902000: 1.02%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 146th

Area: 87.32 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 605 to 1,485 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 39.8° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 30 inches of rain, 80.7 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Services, trade, government

Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $18,969 (1999)

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 5,340

Major Colleges and Universities: University of MinnesotaDuluth; College of St. Scholastica

Daily Newspaper: Duluth News-Tribune

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Duluth: Health Care

Duluth is a regional health care center for the northern sections of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and for northwestern Ontario, Canada. The St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic (SMDC) Health System was initially comprised of St. Mary's Medical Center and the Duluth Clinic, and in 2001 absorbed Miller-Dwan, further enhancing the services available to patients. These three hospitals, with a bed capacity of more than 600, provide complete medical services.

St. Mary's offers 24-hour emergency treatment and maintains trauma and poison information units in addition to outpatient services, home care, and community education programs. It also operates the Regional Heart Center and Regional Neuroscience Center, which and provides cardiac surgery, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, intensive care, and level three prenatal care.

Miller-Dwan administers the largest mental health program in the region and operates a burn clinic along with hemodialysis, medical rehabilitation, rheumatic disease, and radiation therapy units.

St. Luke's Hospital, which was the first hospital in Duluth, has been federally designated as a Level II Regional Trauma Center; it houses the Regional Vascular Institute, Poison Control Center, and Mental Health Services and has more than 400 physicians on its staff. A full range of general services is supplemented by such specialties as psychiatry, oncology, physical medicine, hospice care, high cholesterol treatment, occupational health services, lithotripsy, and magnetic resonance imaging.

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Duluth: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Duluth's major daily newspaper is the morning Duluth News-Tribune. Several suburban newspapers and shopping guides circulate weekly. Labor World, a labor newspaper established in 1895, appears biweekly on Wednesdays. The Duluthian, a bimonthly, is published by the Chamber of Commerce with a business and community orientation. Lake Superior Magazine, also published bimonthly, features articles and photography about the region. A number of special-interest magazines are published in the city on such subjects as mining and mineral processing, the restaurant industry, and the dental profession.

Television and Radio

More than a dozen television stations, representing the major networks and PBS, broadcast in Duluth, which also receives programming from Hibbing; cable programming is available by subscription. Some 30 AM and FM radio stations offer a variety of formats, including classical, contemporary, and country music, religious programming, news, and public interest features.

Media Information: Duluth News-Tribune, 424 W. 1st St., Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)723-5313. The Duluthian, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, 5 W. 1st St., Ste. 101, Duluth, MN 55802; telephone (218)722-5501

Duluth Online

City of Duluth home page. Available www.ci.duluth.mn.us

Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Available www.duluthchamber.com

Duluth Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.visitduluth.com

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Available www.duluthconventioncenter.com or www.decc.org

Duluth News-Tribune. Available www.duluthsuperior.com

Duluth Public Library. Available www.duluth.lib.mn.us

Duluth Public Schools. Available www.duluth.k12.mn.us

Minnesota Historical Society. Available www.mnhs.org

Northeast Minnesota Historical Society Archives. Available www.d.umn.edu/lib/collections

Selected Bibliography

Hertzel, Laurie (ed.), Boomtown Landmarks (Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishing, 1993)

Sutter, Barton, Cold Comfort: Life at the Top of the Map (University of Minnesota Press, 1998)

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Duluth: Geography and Climate

Duluth is located on a natural harbor at the western tip of Lake Superior and at the base of a range of hills overlooking the St. Louis River. This position below high terrain and along the lake permits easterly winds to cool the area automatically, thus earning Duluth the nickname of the "Air-Conditioned City." During the summer a westerly wind flow abates at night, and the cool lake air moves back in toward the city. High and low pressure systems and proximity to Lake Superior, the coldest of the Great Lakes, have an important influence on the climate, which is predominantly continental. Summer temperatures are thus cooler and winter temperatures warmer; the frequency of severe stormswind, hail, tornadoes, freezing rain, and blizzardsis also low in comparison to other areas at a distance from the lake. Fall is an especially pleasant season in Duluth, as the changing leaves produce a striking combination of reds, yellows, and browns.

Area: 87.32 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 605 to 1,485 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 10.3° F; July, 65.8° F; annual average, 39.8° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 30 inches of rain, 80.7 inches of snow

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Duluth: Transportation

Approaching the City

The Duluth International Airport, located six miles from downtown, is the destination for most air traffic into the city. Domestic and international commercial carriers schedule daily flights into the passenger terminal.

Duluth is the terminus point for Interstate 35, which extends from the United States-Mexico border into northern Minnesota; federal highways providing easy access into the city include U.S. 53, 61, and 2. State routes running through Duluth are 23, 39, and 194.

Traveling in the City

Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) provides public bus transportation throughout the metropolitan area with a fleet of 65 modern transit buses. Among the DTA's special services are A Special Transit Ride (STRIDE) for handicapped passengers and carpool and rideshare programs. The DTA operates the Port Town Trolley, a downtown circulator, during the summer months. Visitors may also explore the city on horse-drawn carriages or via the Canal Park waterfront tram.