December 3, 2012

Alaska Trip - Petersburg (Part 3)

Many Alaska towns have totem poles on display, and Petersburg is no exception. There are two located in the downtown area, paying homage to Tlingit ancestors who settled in the area. Alaska natives now comprise about 10% of the local population.

The sky was overcast on the day we visited, so the background was a very unattractive grey color. I performed a little Photoshop magic and added a texture background on this image to make it more interesting.

Each of the totems is 35 feet high and made from red cedar. Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph completed them in 2000. Mr. Joseph actively works at the Sitka National Historic Park and more of his creations are on display at that location. Here are some of the close-up details of these remarkable pieces of folk art.

When it comes to photography, it is best to expect the unexpected. When I walk along sidewalks, I have a habit of constantly looking down. I have a healthy fear of tripping and falling. So it was a delightful surprise to see something that compelled me to photograph a sidewalk. You read that correctly – a sidewalk!

As a beautification project, the Petersburg city council and arts council installed decorative brass inlays several years ago in their downtown sidewalks. They are very attractive, but some of the residents don't like them because they can be slippery in the winter and have caused some falls. Twenty new medallions (costing $37,000!) with a non-slip finish are currently being installed to replace the older ones.

As I tourist, I’m not mired in the controversy. So I was able to simply walk around and marveled at the designs. It would have been a fun project to go around and photograph a lot of them. But this one will have to suffice. It certainly reflects the Alaska Native heritage!


  1. neat added decor to the walk! but, yes, the icing would not be great! :)

  2. Love your totems, and I too look down, I haven't got time for any broken bits, so falling is not a good thing.

  3. The older I get, the more of a nervous Nellie I am about falling so I'm glad that the new ones will be non-slip. They are a nice decorative touch with that nod to heritage. The totem poles are amazing. I'd enjoy seeing them...we have a few, not many, around here and I always enjoy driving by and seeing them.

  4. I love the way you captured the grain and age in the totems. They are magnificent!

  5. I love seeing all of the Totem Poles in Alaska. They are amazing... Such creativity. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Love the totem poles! I look down when I walk, too because I have had a couple bad falls from tripping and now I'm paranoid! You can definitely see some interesting things on the sidewalk!

  7. I want 2 c some mo' BAYYYYERRRRS!!!

  8. These are amazing and I love the texture you added to the first one to camouflage the sky. Looking down does pay off sometimes in more ways than one

  9. Who would have thought that a sidewalk could be pretty. How neat that they did that. Beautiful!


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