Unalaska Island is one of the largest islands in the Aleutian chain. Long the home of Aleuts, it became the site of a Russian trading post in the eighteenth century. This settlement was located on the spit of land between Iliuliuk Bay and Iliuliuk River, which is also the original townsite of Unalaska. Today, the city encompasses a much larger area, including the better-known Dutch Harbor.
As far as is known, no Russian-era buildings survive, but one of the largest and most elegant of the Russian Orthodox churches is located here, representing the persistence of Russian influence. In the late nineteenth century, the Northern Commercial Company established a dock and warehouses on the Dutch Harbor side of the bay, and at the Unalaska townsite, the Alaska Commercial Company occupied the northwest end of the spit, now the site of a cannery. At the other end of Unalaska was the town's cemetery. In between, there was a mixture of small buildings constructed by public and private owners.
During the Second World War, both navy and army posts were located on the island. The army moved Fort Mears to Unalaska Valley and built a number of houses. These 16-foot-by-20-foot houses, known as cabanas, were sold to Natives in 1944–1945 for nominal amounts and moved down to the townsite on skids. Some have been attached and combined into bigger buildings.
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