Blog Downtown Greater Council

Local view: Duluth skywalkers help keep downtown on its toes

June 29, 2016

So, what’s your fashion preference? Scintillating stiletto? Smart pumps? Reliable loafer? How about something a little different? Say, a pair of neon-tinted athletic shoes. Fashion no-no but fitness yes-yes? You can have both.

Especially if you’re a working woman downtown in Duluth.

For several years, I worked up the hill at the mall as the director of business development and marketing. These days, I am director of marketing and communications for the Head of the Lakes United Way. It feels good to be downtown again. I get to spread the good news about the United Way.

Read any number of articles about America’s downtowns and you’ll find every kind of study about the decline of urban centers over the last 50 years. But we are making it right again. The renaissance of America’s downtowns stretches all the way inland from both coasts to the shores of Lake Superior. More specifically, Superior Street. If you’re a working woman like me, you know it takes a skywalker to make a downtown thrive.

There’s a vibrant and active regiment of glorious skywalkers making the march daily in Duluth — before work, on their lunch breaks, and probably more than a few during their work day, thinking about how to close their next deal.

Revitalizing downtowns can be a challenge. They are often gritty, cranky and struggling places, but always exciting and compelling. A skywalker on patrol, neon-tinted athletic shoes and either a smart business suit or patterned dress as her uniform, has a bird’s-eye view of what makes working and living downtown culturally and professionally fulfilling. After all, there’s 3.5 miles of skywalks to patrol.

Our downtown is a hotbed of business activity, creativity, activism and economic diversity. In the time it takes for you to set out on your shift, pedometer at the ready, you can have an entire day’s worth of things at your footsteps. Leave your office and enter the urban jungle, snaking through corridors, striding with confidence toward buying that perfect engagement ring or that tie for your partner. Dip in for a second at street level to try on a thing or 10 for when the sun goes down and downtown pulses with music, theater and the smells of pizza, Indian food and steaks. But, I digress.

If a downtown is said to demonstrate to the world the character of the people in a given city, the Duluth skywalker brigade shines bright: young, urban, aware, determined, excited and smart. Those sensible and smart pumps might be under your desk back at the office, but for now your walking gear, your skywalker uniform, is your downtown identity for the next half-hour of your life.

But wait. What is that? Time to stop for a smoothie? Why not? Every skywalker on patrol knows where to scope out the next hot thing. There are hot spots and pulse points every time you look down at your pedometer, all just waiting to be discovered.


Machelle Kendrick of Duluth is a member of the Greater Downtown Council marketing committee and wrote this on behalf of the committee.