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 soon at our website at We will happily send a copy to any Historic Ketchikan member who wishes one. Please submit comments on the plan to, or 907-225-5515.

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