Monday, July 13, 2009

Alaska's "First City"

The picture Dee posted of the entrance to Ketchican claims that it is "Alaska's 1st City." Yet Sitka claims that it is "The First City in Alaska." Which one is correct? Without going into the details of determining exactly when a given city is established, it is clear that Sitka is the older. Ketchican's history dates to 1883, while Sitka's history begins around 1800. How, then, can Ketchican claim to be Alaska's first city?

Well Ketchican calls itself "First City" simply because it is the first stop in Alaska for ferries and many cruise ships traveling north through the Inside Passage. Its vibrant native Alaskan heritage, scenic location, and picturesque hillside houses and staircases make it a popular destination for travelers. It is also known as the "Salmon Capital of the World."

Ketchican is situated on Revillagigedo Island, 90 miles (145 km) north of Prince Rupert, BC. It is separated from Gravina Island, where Ketchikan International Airport is located, by the Tongass Narrows. In August 2005 the 2005 Highway Bill provided for $223m to build the Gravina Island Bridge (nicknamed "the Bridge to Nowhere" by its critics) between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. The bridge would have connected the island of Ketchikan to Gravina island where the airport is located so you can drive to the airport rather than taking the ferry across the waters. After years of national and international ridicule over the expense of this project, the Alaska government ultimately chose not to build the bridge, and will spend the appropriated funds elsewhere.

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