Paris is often called the “City of Light,” New Orleans is the “Crescent City,” and Detroit will always be known as the “Motor City.”
For some reason, Duluth is called the “Zenith City.”
An old brick building in Canal Park advertises “Zenith Machine.” There’s an insurance company called “Zenith American Solutions.” A monthly entertainment publication called “Zenith City News.” The Duluth Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual “Zenith Marketing Conference.” The city’s “premiere” body shop is called “Zenith City Piercing and Tattoo.” There’s a manufactured housing community called “Zenith Terrace.” You get the picture.
Even the city historical repository is named “Zenith City Online.”
Which is where I discovered how Duluth became associated with a word Webster’s defines as: “the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body.”
I guess we can blame a newspaper man.
According to Zenith City Online, 19th Century newspaper publisher Thomas Foster called Duluth “the Zenith City of the unsalted seas” in a speech at an 1868 Fourth of July picnic. Foster believed Duluth was ready to blast off to the economic heavens. The railroad was on its way to the shores of Lake Superior. It was boom time for Duluth.
In 1873, the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad failed, the stock market crashed and five years later Foster’s newspaper was gone.
Somehow the Zenith nickname stuck.
And now we have steel leaf spring and u-bolt manufacturers aiming for the stars.
Which makes for a great picture in this place where winter works so hard to stay alive.
It’s spring in the Zenith City.