Seward (Alutiiq: Qutalleq) is an incorporated home rule city in Alaska, United States. Located on Resurrection Bay, a fjord of the Gulf of Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is situated on Alaska's southern coast, approximately 120 miles by road from Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, and nearly 1,300 miles from the closest point in the contiguous United States at Cape Flattery, Washington.
With an estimated permanent population of 2,831 people as of 2017, Seward is the fourth-largest city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, behind Kenai, Homer, and the borough seat of Soldotna. The city is named for former U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, who orchestrated the United States' purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867 while serving in this position as part of President Andrew Johnson's administration.
Seward is the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad and the historic starting point of the original Iditarod Trail to the Alaskan interior, with Mile 0 of the trail marked on the shoreline at the southern end of town.
Fourth Avenue, August 1907
"Gateway to the Kenai Fjords"
"Alaska Starts Here"
Location in Alaska
|Incorporated||June 1, 1912|
|• Mayor||David Squires |
|• State senator||Peter Micciche (R)|
|• State rep.||Ben Carpenter (R)|
|• Total||21.55 sq mi (55.82 km2)|
|• Land||14.11 sq mi (36.55 km2)|
|• Water||7.44 sq mi (19.27 km2)|
|Elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||129.31/sq mi (49.93/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−9 (Alaska)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−8 (Alaska)|
|GNIS feature ID||1414598|
|Source of coordinates |
In 1793 Alexander Baranov of the Shelikhov-Golikov company (precursor of the Russian-American Company) established a fur trade post on Resurrection Bay where Seward is today, and had a three-masted vessel, the Phoenix, built at the post by James Shields, an English shipwright in Russian service.
Seward was an important port for the military buildup in Alaska during World War II. Fort Raymond was established in Seward along the Resurrection River to protect the community. An Army airfield built in Seward during the war later became Walseth Air Force Base. Both of the military facilities were closed shortly after the end of the war.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.5 square miles (56 km2), of which 14.4 square miles (37 km2) is land and 7.1 square miles (18 km2) (32.93%) is water.
The northern city limits are demarcated by the lower reaches of the Resurrection River, but extend east past the river's mouth at the northern end of Resurrection Bay to include parts of the bay's extreme northeastern shore, including the beach at the mouth of Fourth of July Creek and the grounds of Spring Creek Correctional Center just inland. To the south, the city limits extend to the unincorporated community of Lowell Point, while the east and west sides of the city are constrained by Resurrection Bay and the steep slopes of Mount Marathon.
Nearby settlements include the aforementioned Lowell Point to the south, as well as the census-designated places of Bear Creek and Moose Pass further north. The nearest incorporated city is Soldatna, about 90 miles away by road to the northwest.
By definition, Seward has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc), but it experiences relatively moderate temperatures compared to the rest of the state throughout the year due to the influence of the nearby Gulf of Alaska. Only one month, January, sees an average daily high temperature below freezing, and temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit are rare. The oceanic influence also imparts a high level of precipitation, with the heaviest amounts occurring during the fall and winter months.
Seward's local economy is largely driven by the commercial fishing industry and seasonal tourism. Many lodging facilities, restaurants and shops in the city cater mainly to tourists, and are only open for business during the summer tourist season, generally regarded as running from mid-May through mid-September. Other major employers in the city include the state-run Spring Creek Correctional Center, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's AVTEC vocational school, and the local Providence Health & Services branch, which also serves as the community's main medical center.
Seward is among the most lucrative commercial fisheries ports in the United States, according to reports from the National Marine Fisheries Service. Per the most recent yearly data available, for 2016, commercial fishing boats in Seward offloaded approximately 13,500 tons of fish and shellfish, valued at about $42 million USD. Over the course of the decade from 2007 to 2016, around $545 million USD in commercial seafood passed through Seward's harbor.
Owing to its position at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad and well-developed road links to Anchorage and the rest of the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is both a major northern end-port for several major cruise ship lines that host Alaskan cruises, such as Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Celebrity Cruises, and a common destination for general Alaskan tourism.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Seward first appeared on the 1910 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. It formally incorporated in 1912.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,830 people, 917 households, and 555 families residing in the city. The population density was 196.0 people per square mile (75.7/km²). There were 1,058 housing units at an average density of 73.3 per square mile (28.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.12% White, 2.44% Black or African American, 16.68% Native American, 1.84% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 5.87% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 917 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 21.9% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 35.9% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 150.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 166.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,306, and the median income for a family was $54,904. Males had a median income of $36,900 versus $30,508 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,360. About 8.3% of families and 10.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Seward employs a council–manager style of government, with a seven-member city council elected by the citizens, as well as a council-appointed city manager, city attorney and city clerk, responsible for all local administration including police, fire, utilities, and harbor management. At the borough level, Seward is situated in Kenai Peninsula Borough District 6, which has one seat on the nine-member borough council. This council oversees area-wide issues such as education, waste management, zoning and taxation assessment.
The United States Postal Service maintains a post office in Seward with zip code 99664.
Seward is unusual among most small Alaskan communities in that it has road access in the Seward Highway from Seward to Anchorage, a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, which also brings it bus service. Seward is also the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad with the railroad serving the Port of Seward which is capable of accommodating ocean going vessels. This keeps the port busy with freight coming on and off the trains, but also makes Seward a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers disembark and often take the train or bus farther north to Anchorage, Denali, or other Alaskan attractions. The Alaska Railroad operates passenger service into Seward on a seasonal basis via the Coastal Classic train.
Seward is a very bike friendly community. A paved bike path runs from the downtown business district along the waterfront, through the harbor and along the highway to mile 4.5. Bikes are available for rent and there are guided bike tours of the area.
Seward Airport (PAWD/SWD) is home to general aviation services and flight-seeing operators. Scheduled commercial service is available at Kenai Municipal Airport in Kenai and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, both about 100 miles (160 km) away. Bus connections are also available.
The Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska’s premier public aquarium and Alaska's only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation facility, is located on the shores of Resurrection Bay in Seward in the U.S. state of Alaska. Open since May 1998, it is dedicated to understanding and maintaining the integrity of the marine ecosystem of Alaska through research, rehabilitation, conservation, and public education. It is the only facility in the world specifically dedicated to studying the northern marine environment and the only one designed at the outset to combine research with public education and visitor components. The Alaska SeaLife Center generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska's marine ecosystems.
The Alaska SeaLife Center project cost $55 million; Exxon Valdez oil spill settlement funds made up the $37.5 million portion of funds dedicated to research and rehabilitation. An additional $12 million was raised by selling bonds, and $1.1 million was raised locally through private donations.
The Alaska SeaLife Center is a private, non-profit corporation with approximately 105 full-time employees and a staff of volunteers and interns.In September 2011, the Alaska SeaLife Center was granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This acknowledgment places the ASLC in the top tier of their field as less than 5% of the nation's 6000 zoos and aquariums currently have this standard of certification.Ballaine House
The Ballaine House is a historic homestead in Seward, Alaska, United States. The home was built in 1905 by prominent Seward businessman Frank Ballaine. Frank was the brother of John Ballaine, who is considered the founding father of Seward. The building currently houses a bed and breakfast.Beverly D. Dunham
Beverly D. Dunham is a pioneer journalist and publisher in Alaska. She founded the Seward Phoenix Log in 1966 and served as the editor and publisher, running both the financial side and editorial side of the paper, rare for a woman at the time. In 2014, she was named to the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.
She is also a community activist and municipal servant in Seward, Alaska. She served on the Seward School Board and Seward City Council, and as mayor for a time.
Dunham was featured in the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, expressing her initial opposition to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Seward. She feared the establishment of the monument would adversely affect the economy of the town.Government Cable Office
The Government Cable Office at 218 Sixth Street in Seward, Alaska, United States, is a historic building that served as a telegraph office that connected Seward with communications in the rest of the United States.
The cable office was constructed in 1905 by the U.S. Army Signal Corps as part of the Washington–Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS). Telegraph service from the lower states first connected to Valdez, Alaska. In summer 1905, submarine cable was extended from Valdez to Seward.The first message over the line was to A. C. Frost, president of the Alaska Central Railway, who was in Chicago: "This first message transmitted over Alaska Cable connects Seward from this day to the great city of Chicago." Among initial regular users of the telegraph line was the local newspaper, the Seward Daily Gateway. In August 1905, owner Frank Ballaine began featuring the previous day's news from the Coterminous United States in his paper. Before the telegraph line, outside news arrived via steam ship days or weeks later.The office was operated by Army personnel. The front room of the building was open to the public who could send and receive messages. The central part of the ground floor served as the operator's station, while workers lived on the second floor. Service continued until an earthquake severed the line in 1934. By that time, radio communication had been established by the Navy and the telegraph line was not replaced. The government retained ownership until 1961. Since then, the building has served as a private residence and rented apartments.The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.Inupiaq language
Inupiaq , Inupiat , Inupiatun or Alaskan Inuit, is a group of dialects of the Inuit languages, spoken by the Iñupiat people in northern and northwestern Alaska, and part of the Northwest Territories. The Inupiat language is a member of the Inuit-Yupik-Unangan language family, and is closely related to Inuit languages of Canada and Greenland. There are roughly 2,000 speakers. It is considered a threatened language with most speakers at or above the age of 40. Iñupiaq is an official language of the State of Alaska.The name is also rendered as Inupiatun, Iñupiatun, Iñupiaq, Inyupiaq, Inyupiat, Inyupeat, Inyupik, and Inupik.
The main varieties of the Iñupiaq language are Northern Alaskan Iñupiaq and Seward Peninsula Iñupiaq.
The Iñupiaq language has been in decline since contact with English in the late 19th century. American colonization and the legacy of boarding schools have created a situation today where a small minority of Inupiat speak the Iñupiaq language. There is, however, revitalization work underway today in several communities.Jesse Lee Home for Children
The Jesse Lee Home for Children is a former home for displaced children on Swetmann Avenue in Seward, Alaska, United States. It was operated by the United Methodist Church from its opening in 1926 until the building suffered damage from a 1964 earthquake and operations were relocated to a new building in Anchorage.Lowell Creek Diversion Tunnel
The Lowell Creek Diversion Tunnel is a flood control project located in Seward, Alaska, United States. The project was constructed to alleviate flooding of Lowell Creek in Seward. It was the first flood control project completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska.
Originally, Lowell Creek ran through Seward along what is now Jefferson Street. Beginning with the town's establishment in 1903, the fast-moving stream produced one to three severe floods a year until the tunnel was built in 1939. The floods carried large amounts of debris from the mountains; one flood deposited 10,000 cubic yards in an 11-hour period in 1935.In 1927 the Alaska Railroad constructed a small diversion dam and flume to carry debris down Jefferson Street to drain into Resurrection Bay. However, by 1937 these structures had deteriorated beyond repair. Consequently, the Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the new project in August 1939. The project consisted of:
a diversion dam, 400 feet (120 m) in length and up to 25 feet (7.6 m) high that diverted the creek away from its original path;
a tunnel through Bear Mountain, 2,068 feet (630 m) in length and 10 feet (3.0 m) in width;
an outlet flume, 109 feet (33 m) in length and 10 feet (3.0 m) in width which drains into Resurrection Bay.Completed in 1940, this system withstood the 1964 Alaska earthquake, as well as severe floods in 1966, 1986, and 1995, which brought the water level within inches of cresting the dam.The tunnel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.Though the project has prevented significant flooding of the city of Seward, debris continues to accumulate at the outlet of the flume and the city must work to move the debris further into the bay. With the significant risk of debris accumulation during a flooding event, new projects are being considered to replace the diversion tunnel — including construction of a new, wider tunnel through Bear Mountain at a cost of $30 million, or an aqueduct underneath Jefferson Street.M. Joseph Conroy
For the Roman Catholic Prelate, see Joseph Henry Conroy.Michael Joseph "Joe" Conroy (September 20, 1874 – September 5, 1946) was the second Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, serving from 1923 to 1924.Mitch Seavey
Mitch Seavey (born 1959) is an American dog musher, who won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across the U.S. state of Alaska in 2004, 2013 and 2017. At age 57, Seavey is the oldest person to win the Iditarod in 2017 (surpassing his record in 2013 at age 53). His son, Dallas Seavey, won the 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Iditarod; his 2012 win made him the youngest winner ever.Seavey competed in his first Iditarod in 1982, and has completed every race since 1995. In the 1995 race, he started in Seward, and completed the entire length of the Iditarod Trail. He won the 2004 Iditarod in 9 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes, and 22 seconds. He has also won the Copper Basin 300 twice, the Klondike 300, the Kusko 300, and the Grand Portage Passage race in the state of Minnesota once. In 2008 he won the historic All Alaska Sweepstakes race with a record-breaking time of 74 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. .Seavey was born in Minnesota, and grew up in Seward, Alaska. He lives in Sterling, Alaska with his wife Janine and four sons Dallas, Danny, Tyrell and Conway where they run the Ididaride Sled Dog Tours. Danny has run in the Iditarod, and in the 2005 Iditarod both Tyrell and Dallas competed. Dallas won the 2012 Iditarod, becoming the youngest winner; Mitch became the oldest to win in 2013. In 2015, Mitch and Dallas became the first father and son duo in Iditarod history to claim the top two finishing positions of the race with Dallas arriving at the finish line first and Mitch coming in second.Seavey runs a dog sled tour out of Seward, Alaska which allows people from all over the country to experience dog sledding without having to run the iditarod.Mount Marathon Race
The Mount Marathon Race is a mountain race that is run every Fourth of July in Seward, Alaska.RV Sikuliaq
RV Sikuliaq is an American research vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Built in 2014 by Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin, the $200 million vessel replaced the 1966-built research vessel Alpha Helix that was retired in 2007. Sikuliaq, named after the Iñupiaq word for "young sea ice" and pronounced "see-KOO-lee-auk", will be homeported in Seward, Alaska.Seward Airport
Seward Airport (IATA: SWD, ICAO: PAWD, FAA LID: SWD) is a state-owned, public-use airport located two nautical miles (2.3 miles; 3.7 km) northeast of the central business district of Seward, a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. This airport is included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation facility.Seward Depot
The Seward Depot, also known as the Seward Station, is a former rail depot in Seward, Alaska, United States.
The depot was constructed in 1917 at what is now Adams Street and Ballaine Boulevard to serve the railroad line. Seward was and remains the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. The Seward line was owned by the Alaska Central Railroad, the Alaska Northern Railroad, and at the time of the depot's construction, the U.S. government. President Warren G. Harding visited Seward and Alaska in 1923, and following completion of the Mears Memorial Bridge, drove the ceremonial golden spike at Nenana, connecting Seward with Fairbanks.In 1928 the building was moved to its current location on Railway Avenue following a flood of Lowell Creek.Much of the railyard in Seward and the track north along the Turnagain Arm were destroyed in the Good Friday earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that hit the town, and the depot was out of use. It served as the headquarters for the Alaska Marine Highway's M/V Tustumena for a time. In 1998 it was sold to the Chugach Alaska Corporation after the corporation completed renovations, and the building served as a native cultural center for three years. It is currently owned by the Seward Association of the Advancement of Marine Science, dba, Alaska SeaLife Center, who lease it for operation as a cafe.Hoben Park, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is adjacent to the depot. Both are located at the southernmost point in Seward.Seward Mountains (Alaska)
The Seward Mountains is a small mountain range in southeastern Alaska, United States, located on the upper Portland Canal. It has an area of 107 km2 and is a subrange of the Boundary Ranges which in turn form part of the Coast Mountains. Part of the eastern border of Misty Fjords National Monument transects the range. Despite its name, the Seward Mountains are located nowhere near Seward, Alaska or the Seward Peninsula, though the Seward Peninsula has its own set of four maintain ranges: the Kigluaik Mountains, Bendeleben Mountains, Darby Mountains, and York Mountains.Spring Creek Correctional Center
Spring Creek Correctional Center is an Alaska Department of Corrections maximum security prison for men located in Seward, Alaska, United States. The prison is located approximately 125 miles (201 km) south of Anchorage. The prison is located on about 328 acres (1.33 km2) of land surrounded by national parks. The prison capacity consists of over 500 inmates and 97 correctional officers. Built as a decentralized campus, the prison construction was completed in 1988 at a cost of $44,678,000. A large portion of the prisoner population consists of "hard core" felons who committed violent crimes, such as murder. The Alaska DOC says that these prisoners "will probably spend the rest of their life in prison." Spring Creek also houses prisoners who committed less serious crimes like assault and burglary and usually have sentences from three years to ten years.St. Peter's Episcopal Church (Seward, Alaska)
St. Peter's Episcopal Church is a historic Episcopal church located at 239 Second Aveune at Adams Street in Seward, Alaska, United States. The first Episcopal services in Seward were held in 1904 by a priest from Valdez. The church building was constructed between 1905 and 1906 and was consecrated on April 1, 1906 by the Rt. Rev. Peter Trimble Rowe, the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska. The interior of the church is noted for the 1925 reredos of Christ's Resurrection and Ascension which was done by Dutch artist Jan Van Emple.The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.St. Peter's is still an active Episcopal parish.Swetman House
Swetman House, also known as Swetmann House and Gerhard "Stucco" Johnson House, is a historic residence at 325 5th Avenue in Seward, Alaska. The house was constructed in 1916 and was originally located adjacent to Seward's Mount Marathon. In 1920 or 1921, the original owner, Gerhard "Stucco" Johnson, sold the house to pharmacist Elwyn Swetman on condition that Swetman move the property to his own lot. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 17, 1978.Van Gilder Hotel
The Van Gilder Hotel is a historic multipurpose commercial and civic building at 307 Adams Street in Seward, Alaska, United States.Winfield Ervin Jr.
Winfield Ervin Jr. (1902–1985) was a mayor of Anchorage, Alaska.
|Climate data for Seward Airport (1981−2010 normals)|
|Average high °F (°C)||31.8
|Daily mean °F (°C)||27.1
|Average low °F (°C)||22.3
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||8.07
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||12.9
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||15.1||13.7||13.1||13.7||13.5||11.6||12.5||14.1||16.9||16.5||14.3||16.6||171.6|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.8||5.0||4.7||2.2||.1||0||0||0||0||.8||3.9||6.7||29.2|
Municipalities and communities of Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States
|Largest cities |
pop. over 25,000
|Smaller cities |
pop. over 2,000