The city of Duluth, Minn., is built into a cliffside that's practically considered mountainous by Midwest standards. It is located on the westernmost tip of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, which spans 350 miles east to west and 160 miles north to south. In fact, the lake is large enough to affect local weather patterns, which means those looking for Duluth apartments for rent should expect to enjoy mild winters and cool summers.
The Duluth area was home to two Native American tribes, the Sioux and the Chippewa, before French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, became interested in the fur-bearing animals that inhabited it. He came to town to secure trading and trapping rights in 1679, and ended up lending his name to the settlement.
By the late 1800s, business in Duluth was booming. The city's strategic location as the only U.S. port with access to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans made it a hub for farming, ore-mining and lumber. Although the stock market crash of 1873 derailed the city's progress for a time, its natural resources and fortuitous geographical location helped it quickly bounce back. Today, more than 86,000 people call the city home.
Given that Duluth was rated first in the country for quality healthcare among communities of comparable size, it's not surprisingly that some of the city's largest employers belong to the healthcare industry. These include the SMDC Health System, which employs approximately 4,700 people, and United Healthcare, which has more than 1,000 workers. In fact, one of every seven Duluthians is employed in healthcare. Other major employers include the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), St. Louis County and Duluth Public Schools. Industries including tourism, communications, education and shipping are also big in Duluth.
UMD boasts 13 bachelor degree programs in 74 majors for undergraduate students, as well as graduate programs in 24 different fields. Its campus overlooks Lake Superior, and it employs nearly 2,000 people. Other educational institutions in the area include the College of St. Scholastica, Lake Superior Community College and Fond du Lac Community College.
City-Data.com's March 2012 cost of living index places Duluth at 100 - the same as the national average. The median gross rent in the city is quite low ($663), according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Fans of the outdoors, sports, shopping and dining are all catered to in Duluth. The city has 3,264 acres of municipal parkland divided into 129 separate parks, along with 41 tennis courts, 29 baseball and softball fields, two 27-hole golf courses and 45 miles of snowmobile trails. Additionally, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/Quetico Canadian Provincial Park is only approximately a one-hour drive away.
Foodies in Duluth are all set, as there are more than 50 restaurants within walking distance of the downtown area that serve up an array of ethnic, specialty and local cuisine. For retail therapy, head to the Miller Hill Mall for an upscale shopping experience, or travel from store to store via skywalk at the Holiday Center Mall & Downtown Shopping District. The Canal Park Shops provide a low-key waterfront shopping experience.
For views of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River Bay, as well as the opportunity to take an aerial look at the entire city, take a ride on the Skyline Parkway. If you'd prefer to experience what the city has to offer while keeping your feet on the ground, check out the Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth Lakes Aquarium and the 7.6-acre Glensheen estate, which boasts a 39-room Jacobean Revival mansion and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Duluth also hosts a number of annual events throughout the year, including the Duluth Boat, Sports, and Travel Show in the spring, the Duluth Superior Film Festival in the summer and the NorthShore Inline Marathon in the fall.
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