Juneau (jōˈnō) [key], city (1990 pop. 26,751), state capital, SE Alaska, in the Alaska Panhandle; settled by gold miners 1880, inc. 1900. A port on Gastineau Channel, Juneau is a trade center for the Panhandle area, with an ice-free harbor and an airport. The state and federal governments are the major employers. Salmon and halibut fishing, mining, and tourism are also important economic activities.
Joseph Juneau and a partner discovered gold nearby in 1880, and the city developed as a gold rush town. It was officially designated as capital of the Territory of Alaska in 1900 but did not function as such until the government offices were moved from Sitka in 1906. In 1959 it became state capital with the admission of Alaska to the Union.
Juneau lies at the foot of two spectacular peaks, Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts. Douglas Island, a part of the city, lies across the channel. The huge boxlike Federal Building dominates the skyline. The Alaska Historical Library and Museum and the Alaska State Museum are in the city. In 1970 the municipal boundaries were extended, then making Juneau the largest city in area in the United States, at 3,108 sq mi (8,050 sq km). Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (see National Parks and Monuments, table) is to the northwest.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.