Kodiak is one of 7 communities (Akhiok, Karluk, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor) and the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. All commercial transportation between the entire island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline.
Originally inhabited by Alutiiq natives for over 7000 years, the city was settled in the 18th century by the subjects of the Russian crown and became the capital of Russian Alaska.
Harvesting of the area’s sea otter pelts led to the near extinction of the animal in the following century and led to wars with and enslavement of the natives for over 150 years. As part of the Alaska Purchase by the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a commercial fishing center which continues to this day.
A lesser economic influence includes tourism, mainly by those seeking outdoor adventure trips. Salmon, halibut, the unique Kodiak Bear, Sitka black tail deer, and mountain goats invite hunting tourists as well as fishermen to the Kodiak Archipelago.
The city has four public elementary schools, a middle and high school, as well as a branch of the University of Alaska. An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city historically provided communication with the outside world before fiber optic cable was run. Transportation to and from the island is provided by ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway as well as local commercial airlines, Era Alaska and Alaska Airlines.
indicates places within walking distance
The Kodiak Archipelago has been home to native cultures for over 7000 years. In their language, “Kadiak” means island. Their descendants still occupy the island and are considered Alutiiq, a term used to describe both their language and culture.
In 1763, the Russian explorer Stephan Glotov discovered the island, followed by the English Captain James Cook fifteen years later, who first penned “Kodiak” in his journals in 1778. In 1791, the Russian fur trapper Alexander Baranov had the post at Three Saints Bay, which was founded in 1784, moved to a new site at Saint Paul Harbor, today the location of the city of Kodiak. Baranov considered Three Saints Bay a poor location because it was too indefensible. The relocated settlement was named Pavlovskaia. A warehouse was built in what became one of the key posts of the Shelikhov-Golikov Company, a precursor of the Russian-American Company and a center for harvesting the area’s vast population of sea otters for their prized pelts. The warehouse still stands as the Baranov Museum. Because the First Native cultures revered this animal and would never harm it, wars with and enslavement of the Aleuts occurred during this era.
Eastern Orthodox missionaries settled on the island by the end of the 18th century, continuing European settlement of the island, which eventually became the capital of Russian Alaska. The Russian-American Company was established as a partnership between the two countries in the following century to continue the sea otter harvest. By the mid-19th century, the sea otter was almost extinct and 85% of the First Native population had disappeared from violence and exposure to European diseases.
When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a center for commercial fishing, and canneries dotted the island in the early 20th century until global farm-raised salmon eliminated these businesses. New processing centers emerged and the industry continues to evolve, even today. During the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, animals such as the mountain goat, Sitka black tail deer, rabbits, muskrats, beavers, squirrels, and others were introduced to the island and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was created.
As Kodiak was incorporated in 1941, the U.S. feared attack from Japanese during World War II, and turned the town into a fortress. Roads, the airport, Fort Abercrombie, and gun fortifications improved the island’s infrastructure. When Alaska became a state in 1959, government assistance in housing, transportation, and education added additional benefits. A tectonic tsunami struck the city during the 1964 Alaska earthquake with 30-foot (9.1 m) waves that killed 15 people and caused $11 million in damages. It also wiped out the neighboring Native villages of Old Harbor and Kaguyak. The Standard Oil Company, the Alaskan King Crab Company, and much of the fishing fleet were also destroyed.
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Buskin River Pub & Grub at the Comfort Inn Hotel
The Old Powerhouse Restaurant
El Chicano Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Peking Sizzler Burger
Harborside Fly By Coffee & Goods
Monk’s Rock Coffee House & Bookstore
Big Al’s Pizza