Magazine explores Juneau

'Juneau: Yesterday and Today' goes on sale at mid-month

Posted: Monday, June 09, 2003

Most Juneau residents know the town's basic history, how hard-drinking prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris clambered up Gold Creek more than 120 years ago and found a glittering reward. For those who don't know, a new publication by Alaska Geographic is worth a read.

"Juneau: Yesterday and Today" explores the city's rich history, introduces the reader to a few residents and features community fixtures such as Perseverance Theatre. The 96-page book is the second that Alaska Geographic has compiled on Juneau, said editor Penny Rennick. The first, published in 1990, sold out.

Current photos of the Mendenhall Glacier, downtown Juneau, totem poles and Gastineau Channel are interspersed with black-and-white images of long-gone storefronts and founding families. Though almost all the newer photos depict gloriously sunny skies, the book does attempt to deal with less rosy aspects of life in Juneau.

In a chapter entitled "A Taste of Juneau," wildlife photographer Pat Costello comments on changes brought by the tourism industry.

"Everything I love is still here in Juneau, but it's so crowded," he says, noting that the paving of Eagle Beach's parking lot effectively has created a bus stop.

Other Juneau residents are featured in the book. Biologist Jim King and wife Mary Lou, author of a trail guide, discuss Juneau's small-town appeal.

The book's authors are people who know the community, Rennick said.

"We looked for people who either are from Juneau or live in Juneau," she said.

The organization puts out four publications a year about Alaska. Past topics included Admiralty Island, Native cultures, the aurora borealis, glaciers, Alaska-Yukon wildflowers, bears and the North Slope. Rennick said the next book, due out in February, will deal with earthquakes. Many of the 118 books the society has published are in print.

Rennick said Juneau's unique story and diversity make it a good topic for the publication.

"Certainly Juneau's location and how it has, because of that, sort of banded together to fight off the capital move - that's a very interesting chapter in Juneau's history," she said.

Rennick also wanted to touch on the fact that, despite Juneau's fishing and mining history, it is neither an exclusively fishing or mining community.

"It's a very diverse community. That's good from our perspective, but it also means we have to cover all of the areas," she said.

Alaska Geographic publishes books and also sells guidebooks and provides schools with educational materials.

The book will be available from Alaska Geographic and at Hearthside Books by the middle of June, Rennick said. The retail price is $24.95.

Masha Herbst can be reached at

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