Walter Alexander Soboleff Jr., listens to the story he shared and narrated for the Juneau Voices audio walk on June 24, 2021. His story recounts the struggles he had growing up as the child of prominent Alaskan Native leader and minister Walter Soboleff, namesake of building listeners look out on while hearing the installation. He wore his late father's hat to a recent celebration of the project. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s less-heard history comes to life in new downtown audio walk

Audio installations share heritage through personal stories

When passengers from large cruise ships return to Juneau next month, QR codes embedded in the city’s new wayfinding signs will offer a distinct audio tour through the historic downtown.

Recently, the artists behind the project gathered to experience the walking tour along its path — an opportunity that was delayed by COVID-19 restrictions when the audio installations went live earlier this year.

“It was a really moving experience,” said Ryan Conarro, one of the artistic collaborators for the project. “These pieces are designed to be experienced in these spaces. The walk felt a little like opening night, and I had not expected that.”

Juneau Voices Audio Walk debuts downtown

Lillian Petershoare, a Juneau resident and artist facilitator on the project team that researched, wrote and produced the series, said she was pleased with the results.

“People make connections by sharing personal stories. This is a marvelous gift,” she said, adding that she’s thankful that the project provided her with so many opportunities to hear stories that she otherwise would not have heard.

Members of the Juneau Community Foundation and project-involved City and Borough of Juneau staff members joined the tour to celebrate.

“It’s so important to be learning more. In Juneau, we have an obligation to understand our past,” said Mandy Mallott, secretary of the Juneau Community Foundation.

“I thought it was incredible and striking. So many familiar friends and so many smiles,” Mallott said after the tour.

About the tour

Wayfinding signs around downtown Juneau, like this one photographed Wednesday, are ready to share stories with residents and visitors alike via QR codes that link to audio. The Juneau Voices project recently held a sort of “opening night” as storytellers and people involved in the project took a walking tour. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)

Wayfinding signs around downtown Juneau, like this one photographed Wednesday, are ready to share stories with residents and visitors alike via QR codes that link to audio. The Juneau Voices project recently held a sort of “opening night” as storytellers and people involved in the project took a walking tour. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)

Designed as a smartphone-based audio walking tour through the downtown area, listeners hear a diverse collection of stories ranging from experiences growing up in the Juneau Indian Village to learning about the experiences of Stuart Sliter, née Johnson, who served as the very first Miss Alaska at the dawn of Alaskan statehood. Audio effects and the introduction of a raven and eagle as tour guides add to the rich experience.

Outside Juneau Drug, listeners can hear the recollections of Walter Alexander Soboleff Jr., who recounts the struggles he had growing up as the child of prominent Alaskan Native leader and minister Walter Soboleff, namesake of building listeners look out on while hearing the installation.

“That’s the unvarnished truth,” he said after hearing the recording for the first time at the recording’s location during the kick-off event. “I was surprised by what I revealed.”

It’s shaping up to be a busy July 4 weekend

Know and Go

Juneau Voices is available any time and is best enjoyed as a walking tour — although the stories can also be heard at home at juneau.org/voices. There are 11 stops along the tour. You need a smartphone to access the audio clips. Bring headphones for the best listening experience. You can complete the tour anytime. It takes about an hour to complete and the walk ranges from the downtown library to the area near the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in News

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, stands in the well of the House Chambers with other Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to hear Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., deliver remarks shortly after becoming the new minority leader on Jan. 6. The speech came after a nearly weeklong stalemate by Republicans in electing a speaker after they won a narrow majority in November’s election. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video feed)
Peltola learning the House party is over

Distractions and inaction replace honeymoon headlines as Alaska’s new rep joins minority.

Most Read