| United States|
University of Alaska Southeast
3,255.0 sq mi
| Mendenhall Glacier, Mount Roberts Tramway, Alaska State Centennial Museum, Tracy Arm, Juneau Icefield|
The City and Borough of Juneau ( Tlingit: Dzanti Kiheeni ) is the capital city of Alaska. It is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, and is the second largest city in the United States by area. Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of what was then the District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current home rule municipality.
The area of Juneau is larger than that of Rhode Island and Delaware individually and is almost as large as the two states combined. Downtown Juneau 58°18?07?N 134°25?11?W is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,275. In July 2013, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,660, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage. (Fairbanks is however the second-largest metropolitan area in the state, with more than 97,000 residents.) Between the months of May and September, Juneaus daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships.
The city is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneaus co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzantiki Heeni ("Base of the Flounder’s River", dzanti ‘flounder’, –k?i ‘base’, heen ‘river’), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Aakw ("Little lake", aa ‘lake’, -k? ‘diminutive’) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold taakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Juneau is rather unusual among U.S. capitals in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America (although ferry service is available for cars). The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain surrounding the city. This in turn makes Juneau a de-facto island city in terms of transportation, since all goods coming in and out must go by plane or boat, in spite of the city being located on the Alaskan mainland. Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet (5 m), below steep mountains about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system. The Mendenhall glacier has been gradually retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.
The Alaska State Capitol in downtown Juneau was originally built as the Federal and Territorial Building in 1931. Prior to statehood, it housed federal government offices, the federal courthouse and a post office. It also housed the territorial legislature and many other territorial offices, including that of the governor. Today, Juneau remains the home of the state legislature and the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor. Other executive branch offices have largely moved elsewhere, in Juneau or elsewhere in the state, in the ongoing battle between branches for space in the building, as well as the decades-long capital move issue. Recent discussion has been focused between relocating the seat of state government outside of Juneau and building a new capitol building in Juneau. Neither position has advanced very far. The Alaska Committee, a local community advocacy group, has led efforts to thus far keep the capital in Juneau.
Long before European settlement in the Americas, the Gastineau Channel was a favorite fishing ground for local Tlingit Indians, known then as the Auke and Taku tribes, who had inhabited the surrounding area for thousands of years. The native cultures are rich with artistic traditions including carving, weaving, orating, singing and dancing, and Juneau has become a major social center for the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian of Southeast Alaska.
The first European to see the Juneau area was Joseph Whidbey, master of the Discovery during George Vancouver’s 1791-95 expedition, who explored the region in July–August 1794. Early in August he saw the length of Gastineau Channel from the south, noting a small island in mid-channel. He later saw the length of the channel again, this time from the west. He said it was unnavigable, being filled with ice.
In 1880, Sitka mining engineer George Pilz offered a reward to any local chief who could lead him to gold-bearing ore. Chief Kowee (Tlingit Kaawa.ee) arrived with some ore and several prospectors were sent to investigate. On their first trip, to Gold Creek, they found deposits of little interest. However, at Chief Kowees urging Pilz sent Joe Juneau and Richard Harris back to the Gastineau Channel, directing them to Snow Slide Gulch (the head of Gold Creek) where they found nuggets "as large as peas and beans", in Harris words.
On October 18, 1880, the two men marked a 160-acre (650,000 m2) town site where soon a mining camp appeared. Within a year, the camp became a small town, the first to be founded after Alaskas purchase by the United States. During this time period, prospector and placer miner John Lemon operated in what is today the Lemon Creek area. The neighborhood that grew around where he prospected and several other landmarks there have been named after John Lemon.
The town was originally called Harrisburg, after Richard Harris; some time later, its name was changed to Rockwell, after Lt. Com. Charles Rockwell. In 1881, the miners met and renamed the town Juneau, after Joe Juneau. In 1906, after the diminution of the whaling and fur trade, Sitka, the original capital of Alaska, declined in importance and the seat of government was moved to Juneau. Juneau was the largest city in Alaska during the inter-war years, passing Fairbanks in the 1920 census and displaced by Anchorage in 1950.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 3,255 square miles (8,430 km2), making it the third-largest municipality in the United States by area (the largest is Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska). 2,716.7 square miles (7,036 km2) of it is land and 538.3 square miles (1,394 km2) of it (16.54%) is water.
Central (downtown) Juneau is located at 58°18?07?N 134°25?11?W. The City and Borough of Juneau includes Douglas Island, a tidal island located to the west of mainland Juneau. Douglas Island can be reached via the Douglas Bridge.
As is the case throughout Southeast Alaska, the Juneau area is susceptible to damage caused by natural disasters. In 2014, an earthquake caused widespread outages to telecommunications in the area due to damage to a fiber optic cable serving the area. In April 2008, a series of massive avalanches outside Juneau heavily damaged the electrical lines providing Juneau with power, knocking the hydroelectric system offline and forcing the utility to switch to a much more expensive diesel system.
As the capital of Alaska, the primary employer in Juneau, by a large margin, is government. This includes the federal government, state government, municipal government (which includes the local airport, hospital, harbors, and school district), as well as the University of Alaska Southeast. State government offices and their indirect economic impact compose approximately one-quarter of Juneaus economy.
Juneau is home to Theatre in the Rough, a non-profit theatre company, and Perseverance Theatre, Alaskas only professional theater. The city hosts the annual Alaska Folk Festival and Juneau Jazz & Classics music festivals, and the biennial Celebration. The Juneau Symphony performs regularly. Downtown Juneau boasts dozens of art galleries, which participate in the monthly First Friday Gallery Walk and the enormously popular December Gallery Walk held in the first week of December. The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council coordinates events while fund-raising, distributing some grant money, and operating a gallery at its office in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, 350 Whittier Street. On summer Friday evenings open-air music and dance performances are held at Marine Park. The University of Alaska Southeast Campus also offers lectures, concerts, and theater performances. Juneau is home to the Juneau Raptor Center, a volunteer-based bird rehabilitation center.
The Juneau Lyric Opera and Opera to Go are the two local opera companies. JLO produces operas in English and Italian and sponsors two annual choral workshop festivals, as well as the touring group the "3 Tenors from Juneau."
Some Juneau artists include violinists Linda and Paul Rosenthal, soprano Kathleen Wayne, bass John dArmand, baritones Philippe Damerval and David Miller, tenors Jay Query, Brett Crawford and Dan Wayne, Rory Merritt Stitt, pianist Rosie Humphrey, pianist Mary Watson, guitarist John Unzicker, playwright Robert Bruce "Bo" Anderson, playwright and filmmaker Gab Cody, and painters Rie Munoz, David Woodie, Barbara Craver, Rob Roys, Elise Tomlinson, Herb Bonnet and Alaska Native carver and painter James Schoppert. Photographer Ron Klein is a past president of the International Association of Panoramic Photographers.