In the 1880s, Front Street was the high-tide line of the Gastineau Channel. By filling this land, Juneau's developers created marketable lots on the water side of Front Street and South Franklin Street, thus providing space for half of this downtown district, as well as dock facilities. The Marine Park built in 1979 and cruise-ship facilities continue this seaward expansion.
Downtown Juneau, particularly South Franklin and Front streets, has a wealth of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in remarkably unaltered condition. The curving streets, the canopies that extend over the sidewalks (giving much-needed shelter in an incessantly rainy climate), and the narrowness of the roadways contribute to the pedestrian quality of the area. The setting is perfect for these two- and three-story, wood-framed buildings, which feature storefronts at the ground level, some form of horizontal siding at the second and third levels, and a modillioned or bracketed cornice above. Dating mostly from 1890 to 1920, the buildings are painted in a variety of colors—probably not original—and the downtown has great appeal as a shopping area.