The year 2001 marked Valdez’s centennial. On July 1, 1901, Valdez residents voted to incorporate and form an official City government. Valdez’s first newspaper was published on March 9 of 1901 just before the vote to incorporate. The Valdez News was printed weekly and recorded the events of the newly formed City of Valdez. It also included an opinion section like newspapers today.
The following letter was submitted in the second edition of the Valdez News on March 16, 1901.
I desire to call the attention of the many new arrivals in the city to the manner in which our townsite is laid out. The residents of Valdez have reason to feel proud of their town, for nowhere in Alaska can you find a place where the streets are all so wide and straight. The houses–with few exceptions–are built in line and we hope that as soon as the snow leaves the ground sufficiently, these few exceptions will be moved back to their proper place. This will improve the town in general, and especially the lots on which the houses have been placed where they belong.
The first comments one hears from new arrivals is about the regularity of our streets, and if those who have houses partly in the street will do their duty we will be able to have still greater surprises for those who look at our town for the first time. Everything that helps the town is a benefit to the people. Let “Valdez” be our watchword and let us see to it that we leave nothing undone which will tend to the betterment of our city.
Signed J.G. S. March 15, 1901.
Families with children lived in turn-of-the-century Valdez. Looking out for and providing schooling for the children became an important task of the residents of Valdez, as is apparent in this letter to the editor that appeared in The Valdez News on March 30, 1901.
We realize that the time is at hand for the building of schools in Valdez. The intelligence of a community is frequently judged by its school buildings and the number of children in attendance. The “little red school house” must not be neglected in Alaska, because it is where thought is first developed, and thinking reveals truth no matter what its disguise may be. The children of this town demand good schools by right of birth in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” from which they have emigrated to this far off north-western possession of Uncle Sam’s.
Last year two lots on the northeast corner of town were staked for school purposes. At that time no one wanted these lots because they were considered too far up town, but for a school they seemed the proper place. We understand that both of these lots have been “jumped” by some persons who seem to have little regard either for their own good or the rights of others. We hope these persons will be good enough to leave that which has been respected by others who had just as much right to locate upon these lots as the present occupants, but took the stand which all public spirited citizens should take and located elsewhere. That which is held for the public good is not an individual right because it is universal, as it were, and all have an equal share in its benefits. Schools are a necessity for the preparation of our youths to enter on life’s real voyage — and should be made pleasant by good and elevating surroundings. Schools, where children spend the greater part of the day, should be the best that can be had.
School proponents eventually achieved their goal. In September 1901, the first meeting of the school board was convened and a public school opened at the City Hall the next week. And, on November 11, 1901, the schoolhouse was ready for occupancy on the location in question.