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About time Newtown gets some notice!
By June Allen


August 13, 2005

I'm another one who can't vote in the election next week, but I too have some views on the issue. It's about time Newtown gets some notice! - that section of town has been ignored by the rest of the city for the past, oh, say, about 100 years! And what a wealth of history Newtown has, not only to show off to visitors but to present to its own year-round inhabitants.

And yes, the down side of today's tourism is that it has brought in thousands and thousands of visitors and darn near as many jewelry stores that are boarded up through the long winters. Gawking guests, buses and their traffic etc. can be annoying! But think about this: After mining was a thing a of the past, and fishing finally collapsed, and then - in our own fresh memories -- the forestry industry was voted out of existence in D.C. and our own pulp mill closed for good well, we should be glad that the popularity of tourism came along to the rescue of the city's economy!

Because if cruise-ship tourism hadn't come along when it did, Ketchikan would be boarded up year-round!

I also hope that the newcomers among the registered voters realize that Ketchikan never ever was "the pristine Alaska experience" they think that visitors come to see! Even today, a bulk of our happy guests head for Creek Street and proudly wear the stick-on badges of patrons of a bawdy house. They precede gas fumes as they tour our proud community in buses and...

And that brings up Newtown and its history. Newtown was "new" even before the turn of the 20th century. That proud neighborhood ran out the infestation of prostitution in its environs way back in 1903! Newtown shamed the rest of the city proper into at least pretending that the occupation didn't exist by forcing it to move to Creek Street that year!

And as the years passed, Newtown became home to the fishing industry, to the clanging and prosperous wire works that rolled out the wire mesh for the salmon fish traps, it was home to the fleets of halibut schooners that not only called at Ketchikan and spent their dollars in town but then settled in the town, creating the neighborhood of  Captain's Hill - requiring a new school!

Newtown was home to the richly historic Sparhawk & Youngs establishment, to Nordbys, to Paul Hansen's, to the town's first electric laundry and the still-remembered Steam Laundry. And that's not to mention the beloved Talbot's Supply and the never forgotten Ferry's Food Store!

And there's the Skyline Trail that went from just back of today's First City Saloon up and over Knob Hill and then down - a pedestrian's "city street" before a boardwalk was built around the knob of Knob Hill back in 1902 to connect downtown and Newtown. There are Warren, G and Harding Streets ­ figure it out for yourself. City Float is a wealth of history in itself. And Hopkins Alley, a jewel. Tacky? Don't let the spirit of Dr. and reformer M.M. Hopkins hear you say that!

And, knowing tourists from long personal experience as a Ketchikan Greeter, I know that there are lots of tourists (and ships' personnel, too) who are hesitant to go anywhere they can't see their ship! Newtown is just their ticket!
But then, I can't vote..    
June Allen
(physically in Palmer but with the rest of me in Ketchikan)   
Palmer, AK - USA




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