In 1867, American secretary of state William Henry Seward struck a deal with the Russian Empire in which the United States would acquire Alaska for just over $7 million. Critics had a heyday, and the purchase never quite shook off its nickname: Seward’s Folly.
Seward himself was philosophical about the very public political fracas. “Haters gonna hate,” he is reported to have said with a shrug.
Really, he never doubted that he had struck a shrewd deal for the United States; however, he knew it would be future generations, and not his own, who would find out just how shrewd.
Those generations have fully supported him.
Alaska is separated from the contiguous United States by most of Canada. Its capital city, Juneau, is accessible only by boat or plane – and it is one of a kind in a hundred other ways.
Juneau is an old city, the first founded after Alaska changed hands. Historic South Franklin Street bears more than just traces of Juneau’s early history; many of the restaurants and shops are repurposed structures from the early 1900s. Visitors to the downtown area will want to pay their respects to Tahku, the life-size humpback whale statue cast in bronze and suspended in mid-breach in an infinity pool. Of course, dozens of real humpback whales frequent the waters around Juneau, and whale watching tours are another popular activity.
Many of Juneau’s attractions are natural ones, from famous glaciers to sprawling national forests. And when humans have dared to tread, they have been more careful here than elsewhere. Museums, parks, and preserves abound, covering most of Alaska.
Worth Checking Out
- Tongass National Forest
- Mendenhall Glacier
- Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
- Alaska State Museum
- South Franklin Street
- Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
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