Should Anchorage get a new official seal? An assemblyman and the mayor say it’s time

An Anchorage Assemblyman is ready to scrap a symbol of the city that has withstood more than four decades — the official logo and seal.

You've probably seen it: The blue anchor. The yellow ship. The sun. The airplane.

Assemblyman Fred Dyson doesn't like it. He wants a do-over.

"The present seal does very little to represent either our area's culture or history," said Dyson, a former state legislator who represents Chugiak-Eagle River.

This week, Dyson proposed a resolution that would create a special committee and host a competition for the design of a new official city seal for Anchorage.

The resolution cites Anchorage's long settlement history, from the Native people of the Eklutna tribe to its roots as a railroad and military town. None of that history is depicted in Anchorage's current seal, Dyson said.

Dyson said he's not an artist and doesn't have a specific design in mind.


"But I would want the Eklutna people, and miners, and dog sleds, and the mail trail, trappers, and the railroad represented," Dyson said.

Dyson has backing from Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who supports the idea of a redesign, said spokeswoman Kristin DeSmith.

As well as appearing on landmarks and souvenirs, the city seal embosses important city documents and correspondence. It was adopted Oct. 7, 1975, after the city of Anchorage unified with the Greater Anchorage Borough to become a municipality.

The seal was designed by Anchorage artist Joan Kimura.

"It represents one of Captain James Cook's ships — I don't know how accurately — the midnight sun, I think, a commercial jet because in 1975 Anchorage was, indeed, 'the Air Crossroads of the World,' and an anchor, which makes sense," former Anchorage Daily News reporter Mike Dunham, who has written extensively about Alaska's history, wrote in an email.

Dunham said he could not recall having seen a seal for the city of Anchorage before unification. The Greater Anchorage Area Borough was represented mainly by its initials, GAAB, which is still visible on some manhole covers today, Dunham said.

With as many good artists has Anchorage has in town today, a design competition could turn up "attractive, succinct and compelling" options, Dunham said.

Dyson's draft resolution, co-sponsored by chair Forrest Dunbar and Berkowitz, calls for a task force to solicit designs from city residents and hold a competition. The task force would include representatives from the Native Village of Eklutna, Eklutna Corp., the Anchorage Museum and the Anchorage School District, the resolution says. The Anchorage Assembly is slated to vote on the resolution at its first meeting in August.

Dyson said the new design would be phased in gradually, at minimal cost to the city.

He said he assumed not everyone would be a fan of his efforts.

"Some people will come out of the woodwork and say, 'Damn Dyson, why are you wasting time and money on that?' " Dyson said. "Well, it's going to be darn little time, and why do we not have a seal that represents our heritage, culture and history?"

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the designer of the municipal seal. The designer was Joan Kimura, not Armound Kirschbaum, according to museum and library records.

Have an idea for a new municipal seal for Anchorage that better represents the city's history and culture? Tell us about it or send a photo of your suggestion to

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.