A Unique New Photo Book of Alaska's Urban Past and Present
"When in Alaska, it's easy to believe that you've come to the beginning of something still in process, something untamed. This feeling of a wild place still seeking form and direction permeates even Alaska's urban places. ...
Now in Stores!
"Anchorage, Alaska's largest city with a population of about 280,000 in 2007, is the center of commerce and transportation. Fairbanks, more than 350 miles north of Anchorage, serves as the gateway to Alaska's interior. … Juneau, the picturesque state capital whose 30,000 residents are swamped in the summer months by tourists, is set against a breathtaking backdrop of waterfalls that cascade across the steep, forested flanks of Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts. Juneau, the most-visited city in the state, is the jewel of southeast Alaska, a rainforest region known for logging, politics and cruise ships."
Come with us for a journey across Alaska, to visit its unsung urban centers. Come along also for a journey into Alaska's past, to the time when these places were just finding their ways onto the map, and learn about the twists of fate that transformed them into some of the state's most important places.
The most fascinating feature of this book (part of a series highlighting cities worldwide) is the opportunity to view past and present side by side.
Some parts of our present are deeply rooted in Alaska's past: Anchorage's Wendler building was moved down the street from its original 1915 location, but it still stands, as does the 4th Avenue Theater, built in 1947 after wartime delay. Photos of Juneau's waterfront document an evolution from Native settlement to gold rush days to wartime -- to cruise-ships. All cities have survived wartime and natural disaster, from flooding to the 1964 earthquake to the ever-present threats of fire in Juneau and Fairbanks.
For more information about the book, contact the publisher (see link at left) or for local interview opportunities, contact the authors at the above e-mail link.
Q & A
Q. Did you take the photos?
Some Recent Questions & Answers
A. We've not been around long enough to have taken the historical images, some of which date to the earliest days of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Those are provided with permission from a number of archival sources or individuals, credited in the book. But those who have enjoyed seeing an early copy of the book have been asking, too, about those "now" images, which in most cases replicate the scene of the "then" pictures as closely as possible. In fact, aside from one photo of the Wendler Building in Anchorage (by Sonya), we didn't take those either. As credited in the book, most are the work of photographer Simon Clay, a veteran of the "Then and Now" series, with whom we shared our notes on locations.
Q. So, what did you do? This is a picture book, isn't it?
A. Yes, this title makes the ideal coffee table book, but it's also for readers. More than 20,000 words of carefully researched and lovingly handcrafted text from two contemporary Alaska writers accompany the images, providing a narrative thread that goes beyond nostalgia to make sense of some ways in which Alaska's past laid the groundwork for the state we know today.
Q. When is the book coming out, and how can I buy one (or a few)?
A. The book came out in April 2008. I've heard reports that it's available at Costco and Sam's Club, as well as at Amazon.com online.
If it's not available at your favorite bookstore, you can ask them to contact their distributor or publisher Thunder Bay Books to place an order. You may also use the Amazon link on this page. (Good to know: Order before the book comes out, and Amazon will give you a 5% pre-publication discount.)
Important notice: Some who followed my advice to get the pre-publication discount may have actually paid more than the book now sells for -- NOT my intention! Amazon.com has a 30-day low-price guarantee. If this happened to you, request a discount through Amazon's online support system. They were fast in responding to me!
Q. Why does the book cover shown on Amazon look different from the one on your site? Are there two versions?
A. The book cover above, showing an historic image of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Juneau, is the one that went to press and the one you will find in stores. But somewhere earlier in the process, the editors had considered a "tent city" Anchorage photo. That image must have gone to online booksellers, since it is still in some locations on the Web, including in the Amazon link seen on this page, but as far as we know, it is not going to show up anywhere except in the virtual world. We expect the online image will be updated online any day now. (Update 4/28/08 - Still waiting...)