LISTEN: An iconic Anchorage neighborhood is named after him, but who was the real Joe Spenard?

Joseph Spenard in his car, loaded with children. It was one of the first gasoline powered vehicles in Anchorage. (Pyatt-Laurence Collection/Anchorage Museum)

Spenard is one of Anchorage’s most iconic neighborhoods, named for a flashy character from the city’s past, Joe Spenard.

But who was Joseph Arthur Spenard? And why is there a road and a neighborhood named after a man known as a bootlegger and squatter?

Public historian David Reamer set out to answer those questions in his latest column for the Anchorage Daily News, and he spoke about it with Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove.