Sure, tourists love Canal Park – but Duluth wants locals to go there, too

The city's about to start experimenting with ways to draw more residents to Canal Park
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Duluth is about to do some experimenting with Canal Park.

The former industrial area on the Lake Superior waterfront has become a summer magnet for tourists over the past few decades. But the city is looking for ways to make Canal Park more of a year-round destination for locals, as well.

The idea got a boost Monday when a foundation announced it's giving $200,000 to a project called "Making Canal Park Pop."

Alotgther, the Knight Foundation handed out $5 million to 33 projects that were winners in its Knight Cities Challenge.

18 months of pop-ups

Duluth city councilor Elissa Hansen is leading the proposal for "Making Canal Park Pop." In a statement released by the city, Hansen said the project will use pop-up installations to attract residents from different backgrounds to Canal Park.

Pop-ups are temporary projects – they can be a store, an art exhibit, a park, or something else. They give cities a way to experiment with different ideas for breathing new life into an area.

Duluth says it will ask residents what they want to see in Canal Park and will test different things. Hansen says stuff will start happening in July and will continue through the end of 2018, with a final public report coming out when it's over.

Feedback will be shared with those working on a new long-range plan for Canal Park, which is part of an effort called Imagine Duluth 2035.

The new Knight Foundation grant is not the only money the city has for Canal Park. Hansen tells the News Tribune nearly $1 million from various sources will be put into the area. One of the biggest pieces is $400,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to expand trolley service, since there's hardly any parking there.

About Canal Park

Canal Park is adjacent to Duluth's most famous landmark, the Aerial Lift Bridge. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce says 50 years ago it was filled with empty warehouses and junkyards. But change came in the 1970s and '80s, especially with construction of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, followed by the Lakewalk along the waterfront.

The Chamber notes the busy port of Duluth and the old buildings still give Canal Park an industrial feel.

One of those old buildings is home to Grandma's Saloon & Grill, which will mark the 40th year of Grandma's Marathon on Saturday. More than 8,000 runners will cross the finish line in Canal Park. There's an overview of Canal Park attractions here.

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