Valdez Alaska: New Town
March 27, 1964, was Good Friday. In Valdez, the most northern ice-free port in Alaska, schoolchildren at the dock watched a ship unload cargo. Suddenly, at 5:36 pm, the second largest earthquake ever recorded in the world shook Prince William Sound. A great tsunami hit Valdez, the ship was dropped to the rocks hundreds of feet below, the dock was swept away, and several lives were lost. Valdez was rendered unstable and eventually had to be abandoned.
A planning firm in Indiana, headed by Paul Finfer, was called in to relocate the town on stable land determined by the Corps of Engineers several miles away on the bay. Finfer spent more than a year planning Valdez New Town, based on the Settlement Unit Plan he studied with his mentor, Ludwig Hilberseimer, professor alongside Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Insitute of Technology.
With Finfer’s photographs and interviews, this documentary traces the damage and recovery of property and lives, as the residents finally accept the planned town.
Another Lost and Found Program which examines the Settlement Unit Plan of Hilberseimer is Creating Community: Lafayette Park.