In the late 18th century, the Russians arrived in Seward. They developed a shipbuilding site for the Russian America Company on Resurrection Bay in the area that is now Seward. A Siberian trader named Alexander Baranov first sailed past Resurrection Bay in 1792. It was on Easter Sunday so they named the bay Voskresenskaya Gavan. In English it is know as Resurrection Bay.
In 1903, the town was founded and named after Secretary of State William H. Seward, who in 1867 had persuaded the U.S. Congress to purchase Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. The birth of Seward as a town was actually the result of a plan to build a railroad into the Interior. With the arrival of the survey crews on August 28, 1903, Seward was on its way to becoming the leading port of Alaska.
A huge blow was felt in 1964 when an earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in North America, hit the area on Good Friday, devastating the town's economy. Residents spent the next 20 years working together to rebuild Seward and return it to its status as a thriving port.
Today, Seward is a port of call for several cruise lines and the state ferry system. It is also the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. The local economy is based on the commercial fishing industry, ship services and repairs, and tourism.