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The City and Borough of Juneau (pronounced /ˈdʒuːnoʊ/) is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-Alaska Territory was moved from Sitka. The municipality unified in 1970 when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding borough to form the current home rule municipality.
The area of Juneau is larger than that of Rhode Island and Delaware individually and almost as large as the two states combined. Downtown Juneau is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2000 census, the City and Borough had a population of 30,711. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 population estimate for the City and Borough was 30,988.
Juneau is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzántik'i Héeni "river where the flounders gather", and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Aak'w "little lake" in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet (4.9 m), below steep mountains about 3,500 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 generally retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.
The current Alaska State Capitol is an office building in downtown Juneau, originally built as the Federal and Territorial Building in 1931. Originally housing federal government offices, the federal courthouse, and a post office, it became the home of the Alaska Legislature and the offices for the governor of Alaska and lieutenant governor of Alaska. Through the years, there has been discussion on relocating the seat of state government and building a new capitol, without significant development.
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.
In 1880, Sitka mining engineer George Pilz offered a reward to any local chief who could lead him to gold-bearing ore. Chief Kowee 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 Kowee's 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 (0.65 km2) town site where soon a mining camp appeared. Within a year, the camp became a small town, the first to be founded after Alaska's purchase by the United States.
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.
In 1911, the United States Congress authorized funds for the building of a capitol building for the Alaska Territory. Because of World War I, construction was delayed, also there were difficulties purchasing the necessary land. Local citizens of Juneau donated some of the required funds, and construction began on September 8, 1929. Construction of the capitol took less than two years, and the building was dedicated as the Federal and Territorial Building on February 14, 1931. The design of the building was drawn up by Treasury Department architects in the Art Deco architectural style. The building was originally used by the federal government in order to house the federal courthouse and post office. Once Alaska gained statehood in 1959, the building has been used by the state government.
The Alaska Governor’s Mansion was commissioned under the Public Building Act in 1910. The mansion was designed by James Knox Taylor in the in the old Federal Style. The construction took two years and was completed in 1912. The territorial governor at that time was the first governor to inhabit the mansion, and he held the first open house to the citizens on January 1, 1913. The square footage of the mansion is 14,400 square feet. This is where the governor resides when he or she is in Juneau for official business. The current governor, Sean Parnell, lives in Anchorage Alaska. The mansion current consists of ten bathrooms, six bedrooms, and eight fireplaces. In June 1923, President Warren G. Harding became the first president to visit Alaska. During his trip, Harding visited the Governor’s Mansion while Governor Scott Bone, who was appointed by Harding, was in office. Harding spoke from the porch of the Governor’s Mansion explaining his policies and meeting the ordinary people.
In 1954, Alaskans passed a measure to move the capital north. Robert Atwood, then publisher of the Anchorage Times and an Anchorage 'booster,' was an early leader in capital move efforts—efforts which many in Juneau and Fairbanks resisted. One provision required the new capital to be at least 30 miles (48 km) from Anchorage and Fairbanks, to prevent either city from having undue influence; in the end Juneau remained the capital. In the 1970s, voters passed a plan to move the capital to Willow, a town 70 miles (110 km) north of Anchorage. But pro-Juneau people there and in Fairbanks got voters to also approve a measure (the FRANK Initiative) requiring voter approval of all bondable construction costs before building could begin. Alaskans later voted against spending the estimated $900 million. A 1984 "ultimate" capital-move vote also failed, as did a 1996 vote.
Alaskans thus several times voted on moving their capital, but Juneau remains the capital. Once Alaska was granted statehood in 1959, Juneau grew with the growth of state government. Growth accelerated remarkably after the construction of the Alaska Pipeline in 1977, the state budget being flush with oil revenues; Juneau expanded for a time due to growth in state government jobs, but that growth slowed considerably in the 1980s. The state demographer expects the borough to grow very slowly over the next twenty years. Cruise ship tourism rocketed upward from about 230,000 passengers in 1990 to nearly 1,000,000 in 2006 as cruise lines built more and larger ships—even 'mega-ships', sailing to Juneau seven days a week instead of six, over a longer season, but this primarily summer industry provides few year-round jobs. Its population rank in 2000 was second in the state, closely ahead of Fairbanks; recent estimates have Juneau falling back to third, as it was in the 1960-90 counts.
Juneau is larger in area than the state of Delaware and was, for many years, the country's largest city by area. Juneau continues to be the only U.S. state capital located on an international border: it is bordered on the east by Canada. It is the U.S. state capital whose namesake was most recently alive: Joe Juneau died in 1899, a year after Otto von Bismarck (North Dakota).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 3,255.0 square miles (8,430 km2), making it the second-largest municipality in the United States by area (the largest is Sitka, 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 .
Juneau, Alaska, shares its eastern border with the Canadian province of British Columbia. It is the only U.S. state capital to border another country. Carson City, Nevada and Trenton, New Jersey are the only state capitals which border another state.
Juneau has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), though with a climate much milder than its latitude may suggest, due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. Winters are moist, long but only slightly cold: temperatures drop to 20 °F (−6.7 °C) in January, and highs are frequently above freezing. Spring, summer, and fall are cool to mild, with highs peaking in July at 65 °F (18.3 °C). Snowfall averages 84 inches (213 cm) and occurs chiefly from November to March. Precipitation is adequate year-round, averaging 58.3 inches (1,480 mm) at the airport, but ranging from 55 inches (1,400 mm) to 90 inches (2,290 mm), depending on location The spring months are the driest while September and October are the wettest.
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,700 people, 11,500 households, and 7,600 families residing in the city/borough. The population density was 11.3/square mile (4.4/km²). There were 12,300 housing units at an average density of 4.5/sq mi (1.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city/borough was 74.79% White, 0.81% African American, 11.38% Native American, 4.68% Asian, 0.38% Pacific Islander, and 1.05% from other races, and 6.91% from two or more races. 3.39% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.1% reported speaking Tlingit at home, 5.07% Inupiag, 2.61% Tagalog, and 2.38% Spanish.
There were 11,543 households out of which 36.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.2% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city/borough the population was spread out with 27.4% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city/borough was $62,034, and the median income for a family was $70,284. Males had a median income of $46,744 versus $33,168 for females. The per capita income for the city/borough was $26,719. 6.0% of the population and 3.7% of families were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under the age of 18 and 3.9% of those 65 and older.
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 does include the local airport, the local hospital, harbors, and the school district), and the University of Alaska Southeast. State government offices and their indirect economic impact compose approximately one-quarter of Juneau's economy.
Another large contibutor to the local economy, at least on a part-time basis, is the tourism industry. In 2005, the cruise ship industry was estimated to bring nearly one million visitors to Juneau for up to 11 hours at a time, between the months of May and September.
The fishing industry used to be a major part of the Juneau economy. Until recently, Juneau was the 49th most lucrative U.S. fisheries port by volume and 45th by value taking in 15 million pounds of fish and shellfish valued at 21.5 million dollars in 2004 according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Tree-trunk exporting also has a fondly remembered place in Juneau's economic history.
Real estate agencies, federally-funded highway construction, and mining are apparently still viable non-government local industries. Local mines include Greens Creek, owned by Hecla Mining Company (Greens Creek Mine was a 70% Kennecott & 30% Hecla Joint Venture until Spring of 2008 when Hecla purchased the 70% Kennecott owned for approximately $750 Million) and (soon) the Kensington Gold Mine, owned by Couer Alaska.
Juneau's only power utility is Alaska Electric Light & Power (AEL&P). Most of the electricity in the borough is generated at the Snettisham Hydroelectric facility in the southern end of the borough, accessible only by boat or plane. In April 2008, an avalanche destroyed three transmission towers, forcing AEL&P to generate almost all of the borough's electricity with diesel-powered generators. A second hydroelectric generating facility, the Lake Dorothy Project, is scheduled to be online in 2009.
Juneau is home to Perseverance Theatre, Alaska's only professional theater. The area hosts the annual Alaska Folk Festival and Juneau Jazz & Classics music festivals, and 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.
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 d'Armand, baritones Philippe Damerval and David Miller, tenors Jay Query, Brett Crawford and Dan Wayne, Rory Merritt Stitt, pianist Mary Watson, folk musician Buddy Tabor, playwright Robert Bruce "Bo" Anderson, and painters Rie Muñoz, David Woodie, Barbara Craver, Rob Roys, Elise Tomlinson, and Herb Bonnet. Alaska Native carver and painter James Schoppert. Photographer Ron Klein is a past president of the International Association of Panoramic Photographers.
Two districts have been defined by the Assembly of the City and Borough of Juneau:
In addition, the following private schools also serve Juneau:
Juneau is the home of the following institutes of higher education:
The University of Alaska Southeast is located within the Auke Bay community right along the Auke Lake. The Juneau-Douglas Community College, founded in 1956, and the Southeastern Senior College, established in 1972, were merged in 1980 forming the University of Alaska Juneau. The University was restructured as the University of Alaska Southeast to include the Ketchikan and Sitka campuses. The university offers both degrees and undergraduate and graduate studies. The University of Alaska Southeast is known for its research in regards to the Tongass National Forest and the Juneau Icefield.
Juneau is accessible only via sea or air. Cars and trucks are transported to and from Juneau by barge or ferry. The State-owned ferry is called the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS). Juneau is one of only five state capitals not served by an interstate highway. Dover, Delaware; Jefferson City, Missouri; Carson City, Nevada; and Pierre, South Dakota, are the other four state capitals with this distinction. Approximately one million passengers arrive each summer on cruise ships. Juneau has fewer than 200 miles (320 km) of paved road. There are more vehicles in the city than there are people, as many citizens also own light planes, float planes, and boats. Local government operates a bus service under the name Capital Transit. There are also several taxicab companies, as well as tour buses, which are mainly used for cruise ship visitors.
The only airport in Juneau is Juneau International Airport. Alaska Airlines is as of 2009 the sole commercial jet passenger operator. MarkAir and Western Airlines and its successor, Delta previously served Juneau. Alaska Airlines provides service to Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as to many small communities in the state. Seattle is a common destination for Juneau residents.
Some air carriers provide U.S. mail service. Residents walk, hike, or ride bicycles recreationally. A study has been conducted to make Juneau a more walkable area. Trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and all terrain vehicles are popular.
Avalanche hazards, steep slopes, cold weather and environmental protection concerns are factors that make road construction and maintenance difficult and costly.
A very popular destination is Mendenhall Glacier. A bridge connects Douglas Island with the rest of Juneau, and there are about five places where roads end. Float planes and helicopters offer glacier tours in summer. Dog sled rides are often given to tourists landing on the glaciers or ice caps. Other companies offer boat rides. One of the signature places in Juneau is The Mount Roberts Tramway, an aerial tramway stretching from a station on the cruise ship docks to a point on the southwestern ridge of Mount Roberts.
Juneau's roads remain separate from other roads in Alaska and in the Lower 48. Currently, fast car ferries connect Juneau with Haines and Skagway. There are plans to connect Juneau to Haines and Skagway by road, but the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced in 2005 that the connection was to be provided partly by road, and partly by fast ferry. A 51-mile road would be built on east side of Lynn Canal to a new ferry terminal at the Katzehin River estuary. A ferry would take cars from the terminal to Haines and Skagway, where the cars could then drive over 300 miles to Anchorage. In 2006, the project was estimated to cost $258 million, and in 2007, the estimate was increased to $350 million. The Western Federal Lands Center estimates the project will cost $491 million. As of 2009, $25 million has been spent on the project.
Local opinions on constructing a road link to the outside world are mixed. Some[who?] see such a road as a much-needed link between Juneau and the rest of Alaska. Others[who?] are concerned about environmental, social, and economic impacts. The desired route for the road out of Juneau would destroy coastal land (including rivers, streams, and habitats) while also running through Berner's Bay. Berner's is just outside of Juneau and is home to many species. Many locals consider Berner's Bay to be the closest ecosystem for many Southeast species.
Juneau's only daily newspaper, the Juneau Empire, is published Sunday through Friday, no Saturday edition. There is also a regional weekly newspaper, the Capital City Weekly. Juneau-Douglas High School has The Ego and the Alterego, a monthly magazine, and the University of Alaska Southeast has The Whalesong, a college newspaper.
FM Stations: KTKU 105.1, KSUP 106.3, and the freeform LPFM station KBJZ-LP 94.1. Recently expanded public radio station KTOO 104.3, KXLL "Excellent Radio" 100.7 and KRNN "Rain Country Radio" 102.7 (both operated by KTOO).
Additionally the offices of CoastAlaska, a regional public radio station consortium, are located in Juneau. AP (the Associated Press), Anchorage news outlets, and other Alaska media entities send reporters to Juneau during the annual Legislative session.
Juneau's major television affiliates are KTOO (PBS), KATH-LP (NBC), and KJUD (ABC)/The CW on DT2. Fox and MyNetworkTV are only available on cable via their Anchorage affiliates. The Juneau-Douglas High School also has a program with KTOO airing one hour a week during the school year produced entirely by students with the help of Ryan Conarro, "the DL (Down Low)".
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