City and Borough of Sitka
Unified Home Rule Borough
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 Department of Labor Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (sit' kuh)
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
Geography and Climate
- Sitka is located on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean, on Sitka Sound. An extinct volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, rises 3,200 feet above the community. It is 95 air miles southwest of Juneau and 185 miles northwest of Ketchikan. Seattle, Washington, lies 862 air miles to the south.
- January temperatures range from 23 to 35 °F; summers vary from 48 to 61 °F. Average annual precipitation is 96 inches, including 39 inches of snowfall.
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Sitka was originally inhabited by a major tribe of Tlingits, who called the village "Shee Atika." Russian Vitus Bering's expedition arrived in 1741, and the site became "New Archangel" in 1799. St. Michael's Redoubt trading post and fort were built here by Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American company. Tlingits burned down the fort and looted the warehouse in 1802. In 1804, the Russians retaliated by destroying the Tlingit Fort in the Battle of Sitka. This was the last major stand by the Tlingits against the Russians, and they evacuated the area until about 1822. By 1808, Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska. Baranof was Governor from 1790 through 1818. During the mid-1800s, Sitka was the major port on the north Pacific coast, with ships calling from many nations. Furs destined for European and Asian markets were the main export, but salmon, lumber, and ice were also exported to Hawaii, Mexico, and California. After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, it remained the capital of the territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the BIA converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the city and borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy.
- Tlingit and Russian culture influence Sitkan arts and artifacts and remain a part of the local color. Sitka has year-round access to outdoor recreation in the Gulf of Alaska and Tongass National Forest.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Piped Sewer, Electric, Refuse Collection (Provided by Private Contractor), Landfill, Police, Fire/Rescue/Ambulance, Jail (State Contract), Harbor/Dock, Marine Service Center, Airport (State Contract), Schools, Roads, Library, Centennial Building, Recreation, Planning, Senior Center, Child Care Program, Economic Development, Sawmill Cove Industrial Complex, Convention & Visitors Bureau
- The state-owned Rocky Gutierrez Airport on Japonski Island has a 6,500' long by 150' wide paved and lighted runway. In addition to daily jet service, several scheduled air taxis, air charters, and helicopters are available. The city and borough operates five small boat harbors with 1,350 stalls and a seaplane base on Sitka Sound at Baranof Warm Spring Bay. There is a breakwater at Thompson Harbor but no deep draft dock. A boat launch, haul-out, boat repairs, and other services exist. Cruise ships anchor in the harbor and lighter visitors to shore. The Alaska Marine Highway System (state ferry) has a docking facility. The ferry serves Sitka several times a week with a six hour run to Juneau. Freight arrives by barge and cargo plane.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District