Juneau is a fascinating city, a capital isolated from the rest of its state. Nestled between the base of Mount Juneau and the Gastineu Channel, and set in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, Juneau is an island of civilization amidst a sea of wilderness.
The city of Juneau began as a mining camp, established in 1880 by Richard Harris and Joe Juneau. Following the advice of the Tlingit natives in the area, the two prospectors had made their way to Snow Slide Gulch and discovered a wealth of gold nuggets that were, in Harris' words, "as large as peas and beans." Over the next year, the camp grew into a small town as more and more people arrived to seek their fortunes. The town went through a variety of names - first Harrisburg, and then Rockwell - before the miners got together in 1881 and settled on Juneau. Sitka, the original capital of Alaska, went through a decline around the turn of the century as the whaling and fur industry diminished, and the seat of Alaska's government was moved to Juneau in 1906.
Juneau is the only mainland state capital that is inaccessible by road, so visitors must travel there by air or by sea. Despite its remote location (or perhaps because of it), Juneau is a popular spot for travelers. The Juneau International Airport serves as a regional hub for Alaska Airlines, as well as the local chartered flights. Juneau is also a popular destination for cruise ships, with nearly a million tourists visiting each summer.
Juneau's rough-and-tumble frontier history is preserved in the historic district around Front and Franklin streets. Museums and mining tours are readily available throughout the city. Juneau also shows its refined side with the Perseverance Theatre and its own symphony orchestra. Dozens of art galleries in downtown Juneau participate in a monthly reception known as the First Friday Gallery Walk.