We live here. We work here. Some of us are transplants and some of us are lifers. As one of the two communities in the Twin Ports, Superior means a lot of things to a lot of different people. And, most people seem to think that they're "experts" about the idiosyncrasies that make our area unique. But are they really?

Recently, the City of Superior started prep work on their long-range, 20-year Comprehensive Plan that will drive planning and more for the future. While it's not finished and approved yet, a first draft is available for review.

The plan itself clocks in at 267 pages - which makes it more than just light reading for the average person.  While I truthfully didn't read every single word on every single page, I did take the time to peruse the document.  There is a lot of information to unpack - whether you follow city government or not.  But there is also a lot of interesting information.

Along with goals and objectives for the future, the planning committee includes some impressive facts add figures about the city in the Comprehensive Plan. Even "lifers" will probably find some interesting details that they didn't know before.

Read on:

Superior's Housing Stock Isn't As Old As You'd Think

US Highway 53 north sign in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Common wisdom is that the community is filled with old housing stock.  And while there are a lot of older homes in Superior, that's not the entire story.  The information shared in the Comprehensive Plan shows the majority of homes being built prior to 1939; 4,686 of Superior's homes were built in that era.  But just looking at that number gives you an inaccurate view of the age of homes in the community.  In fact, there's a second peak on the graph that shows a large number of homes (2,084) being built between 1970 and 1979.

There's also another peak of home building that happened between 1950 and 1959 - when 1,338 homes were built.  And - many might find this surprising - 581 homes were built in Superior since the year 2000.

Average Rent Is Under $1000

Tower Avenue looking north in Downtown Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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One of the concerns about housing and rental units in the Twin Ports is price.  This is especially true when it comes to rent.  A commonly tossed-around "fact" is that average rent tops $1,000 a month.

While there may be some rental units in Superior that approach (or exceed) that amount, the average monthly rent is $758.

Superior's Population Is Getting Older

Welcome to Superior, WI sign
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It's an often understood fact that the age demographic of the Twin Ports region trends older.  This is true for Superior.  In fact, the number of residents in Superior over the age of 80 will increase 100% by 2040.  100%!

The Daily Work Commute Is A Trade-Off

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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As a border city on a bordering state line, it's always been understood that many people commute back and forth to work each day between the Twin Ports.  Fact of the matter is that both of the major bridges in town (the Blatnik and the Bong Bridges) get awfully busy in both directions during the morning and afternoon commutes.

But what number of people live in Superior and work in Duluth and vice-versa?

It turns out it's almost a virtual trade-off; although - surprisingly - if one community sees more incoming non-residents for work, it would be Superior and not Duluth.  According to the information provided in the Comprehensive Plan, 8,543 non-residents commute into Superior each day for work - while 8,157 residents of Superior commute outside of the city limits for work.

Home Ownership + Renting Is Equal

Barker's Island and the SS Meteor in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It's often said that the Twin Ports is a difficult home market for new buyers to get into.  It's also said that rent is high in the area for what you get.  Keeping both of those things in mind, it's interesting that home ownership and renting is about on par with each other.

The Comprehensive Plan shares that 55% of people living in Superior own their own home, while 45% of people are renters. In total Superior contains 12,434 housing units.

Median Household Income Is Pretty Average

Business Improvement District (BID) in Superior, WI banner along Belknap Street
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Much is said about the income levels in the Twin Ports area.  According to the information presented in the Comprehensive Plan, Superior's median household income is $46,957.

Not Many People Live In Each House

Barker's Island Marina in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It looks like Superior is following the national trend of smaller families.  The average household size for a family in which the owner resides is 2.3 people.  For renters, that average household size drops to 1.9 people.

Parks + Recreation Areas Are A Big Deal

Wade Bowl Park playground in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It's probably no surprise living in our area, but outdoor recreation plays a big role in our lives - whether we take part in those activities or not.  The Northland offers plenty of wooded areas, lakes, and recreation areas to enjoy - all close to home.

Superior is no exception.

It appears that 70% of Superior residents live within a quarter-mile of a park or recreation area.  Expand that scope out just a little larger - to a half-mile - and 80% of Superior residents live that close to those same recreation areas.

And it doesn't end there. Within the city limits, Superior offers a large municipal forest.  In fact, 203 acres of land in the city are reserved for park and recreation spaces.  In addition, there are 4,657 acres of open or "undeveloped" land to enjoy.  And, the city features 45.6 miles of river area.

Business Is A Big Thing

Welcome to Wisconsin sign in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Superior is home to 1,684 total places of business.  Of those businesses, 413 are women owned.  In addition, 104 are minority owned. And, veterans own 158 businesses in Superior.

The Largest Industries Won't Come As A Surprise

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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One of the commonly-understood facts about the Twin Ports is the role that health and medical play in the job-sector.  Well, then it's no surprise that a snapshot of the top industries (those job sectors that employ the most people) in Superior includes health care and social services.  Medical makes up 12% of the total jobs in Superior; it's closely-followed by manufacturing and food service and accommodations at 11% each.

That's A Lot Of Flushes

City of Superior, WI sign
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It's not an unbelievable number, but it's rather large if you stop to think about it.  The  treatment plant processes up to 5 million gallons of wastewater on an average day at the main plant in town.

Education Plays A Large Role In Daily Life

Superior High School sign - Superior School District in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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The City of Superior is home to a large public school district, two private, independent elementary and middle schools, and two larger post-secondary learning institutions.  More than 4,000 students are enrolled in Superior's public school district at one of the elementary schools and the middle and high school.

Superior is also home to Northwood Technical College (formerly WITC) and the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS).

The Public Library Is A Valuable Resource

Superior Public Library in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Public libraries play a big role in many communities, but that's especially true in Superior.  While it's true that the library houses a large collection of books and materials that are available for check out (the Comprehensive Plan reports that that there are more than 350,000 resource materials available for checkout), it also provides many other necessary services.

Many - especially those who have income needs - utilize the library for internet access - often to search for a job.  The Superior Public Library also coordinates and hosts many events and programing - geared towards the general population, seniors, and juveniles.

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