Port Profile: Juneau

Port Profile: Juneau, Alaska

Soaring over Juneau on our dog sledding adventure by helicopter. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Juneau, Alaska and the Gastineau Channel, as seen from the air. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Situated just north of Alaska’s Tracy Arm FjordJuneau 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 History

Juneau, Alaska. One of the "big three ports", Juneau is frequently overcrowded with tourists arriving on multiple megaships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Juneau, Alaska. One of the “big three ports,” Juneau is frequently overcrowded with tourists arriving on multiple megaships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

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.

What to Do in Juneau

The dog-mushing camp on Norris Glacier is here during the summer season. Due to the melting snowpack, our guides explained they'd have to move the entire camp further to the west in about two weeks' time. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, take a helicopter ride to a nearby glacier in Juneau for a dogsledding excursion. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Click here to read our full Port Profile of Juneau, Alaska

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