Old Town Model
The centerpiece of the Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit is the museum’s Historic Old Town Valdez model, a 1:20 scale replica of Old Town Valdez as it appeared just prior to the 1964 Earthquake. The model includes over 400 buildings and 60 city blocks. Details include window boxes, period automobiles, pets, and signs. It is divided into 11 pods along the major dividing streets so visitors can ‘walk through town’, following the routes that families in Old Town followed for years. Great care was taken to assure historical accuracy. Buildings were constructed based on original photographs and slides. Former residents were consulted regularly to determine the exact locations of everything, from garden plots to buildings.
The only Old Town Valdez structures that can easily be seen at the Old Town site are dock pilings, the foundation of the post office (used as a memorial today), and gravel roads. The model provides a way for those who were born and lived in Old Town to ‘return’ to their hometown. Often, the model triggers memories of people and events. For more recent residents, the model is a chance to visualize the Old Town and develop a sense of the town where the first half of our community’s history took place. The Valdez Museum undertook this project in 1997 in order to provide former residents of Old Town, current residents of Valdez, and others a way to experience, first hand, our community’s past. The model has been successful as an educational tool, heritage project, and visitor attraction. In 2011, an interpretive booklet was added to the display of the Old Town Model, providing visitors with visuals and context for the viewing of the model. In 2012, markers were added to the display showing the locations of several of the buildings that were moved to the new town site, and remain residences and businesses today.