Ketchikan’s Waterfront – Connecting the City

The 1.3 mile waterfront boardwalk has long been a vision for Ketchikan. Considered by many residents to be the most important element of the City’s character and heritage.  It is of utmost importance to protect and enhance the beauty and vitality of the waterfront.  It is our front porch where we welcome more than a million visitors each year to our community.  After the ships leave each day, and after our tourism season ends, it is there for us to enjoy

Connecting the city to its waterfront will expand economic opportunity. 
The boardwalk will help us disperse visitors to our retail and visitor destinations.  It will expand our capacity to handle greater visitor loads, encourage more visitor spending, and help create jobs and more viable businesses. It will also encourage restoration of under-used buildings in areas like Newtown and Stedman Street.

Creating a great waterfront walk will translate into more ship visits, longer port stays, greater visitor spending and more return visits as independent travelers.  We need to excel in a competitive industry by enhancing our community destination appeal and standing out as the best Alaskan port stay. Especially on inclement days, a partially protected route will encourage and channel movement resulting in greater disembarkations and circulation into the community, again with greater spending.

The boardwalk will encourage expanded retail opportunities along its route.  Every successful waterfront walking route has experienced new opportunities for private development with resulting new business, jobs and sales tax revenues.  These new businesses will occur along the pedestrian route and in adjacent neighborhoods. 

Historic Ketchikan actively promotes improvements to our waterfront.  It is partnering with the City, property owners, businesses, and interest groups and will: 

  • finalize the route of the waterfront walk stretching from Berth IV to the end of the Thomas Basin breakwater and define priorities for addressing gaps, and
  • create a community vision for the project that includes the design of pedestrian amenities, lighting, interpretive signage, art, a performance venue, and a children’s play area as well as opportunities for year-round private and public uses and activities.

Historic Ketchikan has prepared a conceptual master plan for the waterfront which has evolved through extensive public participation of businesses, local government and waterfront users.  This informative document is available in hard copy and can be viewed at our website at We will happily send a copy to any Historic Ketchikan member who wishes one.

We give high priority to the access the waterfront walk affords through gateways into neighborhoods and to the enhancement of our destination appeal (interpretive signage, heritage walking tours, rain protection, etc.).  You will see many projects that represent our view of good design but remain conceptual and allow for further design development by others.  The conceptual plan contains many sketches of potential play areas, waterfront performance venues, interpretive displays of our logging, fishing and community history, pedestrian amenities, and art locations.

The master plan is a menu of actions that the community can implement over time and as funds allow.  The plan recommends initial low-cost steps for the next two years.  We provide budget estimates and, for those projects you support, more detailed design drawings that can advance each project. We consider this a draft insofar as stated priorities for the next few years.  We welcome all recommendations from our members and interested stakeholders.  Please submit comments on the plan to, or 907-225-5515.

awings that can advance each project. We consider this a draft insofar as stated priorities for the next few years.  We welcome all recommendations from our members.


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