Port Profile: Juneau, Alaska
Situated just north of Alaska’s Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau retains the unique distinction of being the only U.S. state capital accessible by plane or by ship; there are no roads connecting Juneau with other parts of Alaska or the mainland. Given that, it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many tourists visit Juneau each year aboard the massive cruise ships that pull up along Franklin Street each year between April and October. Today, Juneau is a bustling town that has equal parts tourist-friendly charm, and authentic, rough-and-tumble frontier spirit.
Juneau became the capital city of Alaska in 1906, after the United States congress requested the capital to be moved from Sitka. The town’s name actually comes from a Canadian named Joseph Juneau, who was born in Quebec and co-founded the future Alaskan capital along with Richard Harris. Founding cities must run in the family, because his cousin Solomon Juneau – also a Canadian – helped create the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He initially dubbed Milwaukee “Juneautown,” though the name didn’t stick entirely. Today, there is a part of Milwaukee named Juneau Town.
Back in Alaska, Juneau the city would go on to outlive Juneau the man, who died in 1899. The city today is a fascinating study in architecture, combining structures that were built dating back to 1889 (the Franklin Building at 369 South Franklin Street), through the turn of the century, through the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, on to the low, squat, utilitarian style that characterized buildings of the 1960’s, to glass-encased structures built in the 1990’s and 2000’s.