Anchorage is located in south-central Alaska, nestled between the Chugach Mountains to the east and the shoreline of the Cook Inlet to the west. The town was originally settled in 1915 at the mouth of Ship Creek to support railroad construction.
Anchorage has grown steadily to become the business, cultural and distribution center of Alaska.
The municipality of Anchorage stretches nearly 50 miles from Eklutna to Portage Glacier, covering almost 2,000 square miles – roughly the size of Delaware. Anchorage boasts a great selection of attractions, restaurants and shopping, so be sure to plan a visit to the city as part of your Alaska vacation.
Embraced by six mountain ranges and warmed by a maritime climate, Anchorage is alive year round with adventure, recreation, seasonal festivities, sporting events and more.
Anchorage is the gateway for tourism and travel in Alaska. From its early days as a railroad camp in a spruce and birch forest, Anchorage has grown into Alaska's largest city. Anchorage is in a beautiful setting laid out between the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet, within sight of Mount McKinley.
There is plenty to do in Anchorage. Some of the more popular attractions include the Museum of History and Fine Art, the Alaska Zoo and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The town is also home to the largest float or sea plane base in the world, so bear viewing and fly-in fishing trips are good choices as well. If you have time, take a stroll on the coastal trail, designated as a National Recreation Trail for its dramatic views, or go on a day hike.
In 1915 row upon row of tents popped up in the Ship Creek area as the construction of Alaska’s railroad got under way. Soon plank sidewalks were added, storefronts went up, and the town grew. Anchorage was incorporated as a city in 1920, with its first bank robbery occurring six months after incorporation. The number of people living in Anchorage by 1929 had grown to 2,736.
Though steadily growing, Anchorage remained a relatively small frontier town until the beginning of World War II. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Anchorage found itself on the front lines of the conflict. Airfields, roads, and other infrastructure were constructed during the war. During the war, Anchorage’s population exploded from around 8,000 to more than 43,000. Anchorage leaders wrestled with accommodating the influx and worked to improve water, sewer, and utility systems.
After WWII, the infrastructure was left behind, creating the framework for Anchorage’s development. Another benefit after WWII was the boom of aviation that spread throughout Alaska. Along with the construction of many airfields during the war, the military equipped its pilots with the finest in electronic equipment and devices for flying safely. These enhanced facilities made life easier for the bush pilots who, beginning in the 1920s, had become a critical part of life in Alaska.
In 1951, Anchorage International Airport was completed. With its strategic location, Alaska became the air crossroads of the world after new air routes were introduced between the North Pacific and Asia. The airport was renamed Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in 2000 after Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Oil was discovered on the Kenai Peninsula in 1957. Seventeen oil companies set up headquarters in Anchorage and spent more than $30 million dollars on exploration.
On Jan. 3, 1959, Congress voted Alaska into statehood.
Anchorage again experienced tremendous change when the earth cracked open on Good Friday, March 27, 1964. The strongest earthquake ever to hit North America, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, ripped through Anchorage, leaving death, despair, and destruction in its wake. Recovery was phenomenal. In Anchorage’s pioneering style, the city was rebuilt with lightning speed.
In 1968, oil was discovered on the Arctic Slope, north of the Brooks Mountain Range. As lease sales were finalized, the mood was jubilant. There was a lot of oil, but transporting it from the North Slope was a problem. The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) was proposed in 1969. It met with tremendous opposition from environmentalists and other groups. Also in 1968, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was finalized, bringing the issue of land rights to closure. Twelve native corporations were organized along geographical boundaries. A 13th corporation was formed for those Alaska Natives living outside of the state.
In May of 1972, Congress granted authorization for construction of the oil pipeline. Construction began in 1974, with oil flowing from the North Slope to the ice-free port of Valdez in 1977. Alaska has never been the same since.The price of a home in Anchorage quadrupled. There were no apartments for rent. The city was bursting at the seams. New construction spread like wildfire; new homes were erected, businesses expanded, and Anchorage grew. More attention was given to the development of culture and the arts. The George M. Sullivan Arena, William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center, and Alaska Center for the Performing Arts were built.
Health was also a concern. Anchorage’s hospitals expanded services, bringing the high technology of the fast-moving medical industry to Alaska and dramatically improving the quality of health care.
Today, Anchorage is a thriving city with more than 260,000 residents. In 2002, it was named an All-America City by the National Civic League.
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Anchorage Outdoors Anchorage Alaska’s outdoor adventures are practically innumerable. Ice-skating on Westchester Lagoon, year-round dog-sledding, gold panning, berry picking, “flight-seeing” and golf under the midnight sun; all this and more is possible in and around Anchorage.
Hiking and biking in Anchorage is fantastic thanks to what Bicycling Magazine calls one of the best trail systems in the country. There are 120 miles of paved and 300 miles of unpaved roads to choose from. Far-North Bi-Centennial Park’s Hilltop Ski Area may be a skiers dream in winter but it’s a mountain biker’s paradise in the summer.
Speaking of skiing, Anchorage is well stocked in slopes. Downhill skiers should look into the Alpenglow ski resort (www.skialpenglow.com). For a more Nordic experience there are 31 miles of cross-country trails to ski in Kincaid Park. Snowboarders can enjoy some great backcountry runs at Hatcher’s Pass.
Anglers will be pleased to know that the Anchorage area has 28 lakes fully stocked with Chinook Salmon. Campbell Lake is a fine spot to take out a canoe and catch some trout. Ice-fishing is also a favorite winter activity in Anchorage.
Paddlers of all types will find what they’re looking for in the Anchorage area. A peaceful row over nearby Cheney Lake is a relaxing way to take in the Alaskan scenery. Kayaking aficionados are bound to have a ball given their options: Eagle River, Eklutna Lake and Prince William Sound. There’s no shortage of whitewater adventure on the Class IV and V rapids on Sixmile Creek.
Birding in and around Anchorage may give visitors a glimpse of some of the 150 species that are found there, like Puffins, Red-necked Pharalopes and Semipalmated Sandpipers.
The Southcentral Region of Alaska Home to Anchorage, Girdwood, And Portage Glacier, Southcentral Alaska is a diverse land of moderate rainfall and pleasant climate. The long days of summer make the Matanuska Valley the breadbasket of Alaska, and oversized fruits and vegetables are routinely produced there. Intermittent rain squalls are the rule along the coast, while the broad valleys farther inland typically enjoy sunnier weather. Craggy ranges line the valleys, with peaks that rise well above the timberline. Dense brush is prevalent at lower elevations, and a limited system of trails provides the best option for accessing the high country. Deep winter snows provide the moisture needed to maintain the region's lush vegetation.
Anchorage is the gateway for tourism and travel in Alaska. From its early days as a railroad camp in a spruce and birch forest, Anchorage has grown into Alaska's largest city and the gateway for many visitors. Anchorage is a modern city in a beautiful setting laid out between the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet, and within sight of Mount McKinley, the continent's tallest peak. Anchorage is located in south-central Alaska, nestled between the Chugach Mountains to the east and the shoreline of the Cook Inlet to the west. The town was originally settled in 1915 at the mouth of Ship Creek to support railroad construction. Anchorage has grown steadily to become the business, cultural and distribution center of Alaska. Nowadays nearly half of Alaska’s 600,000 residents live in Anchorage. The municipality of Anchorage stretches nearly 50 miles from Eklutna to Portage Glacier, covering almost 2,000 square miles – roughly the size of Delaware. Anchorage boasts a great selection of attractions, restaurants and shopping, so be sure to plan a visit to the city as part of your Alaska vacation.
The city has its share of asphalt and tall buildings, but nature still runs wild. Spawning salmon migrate up Anchorage's streams, and anyone walking through the woods may come face to face with a moose.ost spectactular scenery. It's 2.3 million acres include soaring cliffs, saw-tooth ridges shrouded in mists, sky-blue lakes, hanging valleys, countless waterfalls, bottomless saltwater fjords, and miles of glaciers. The monument is also home to a multitude of wildlife.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AKA Big Game Alaska): Photograph until your hearts content with this natural, up close viewing of Alaska's wildlife. Located on 140 acres of natural Alaska wilderness, just 30 minutes from downtown Anchorage, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center opened to the public in 1993. On the shores of Turnagain Arm, surrounded by mountains and hanging glaciers, this is the perfect place to learn about Alaska wildlife. Drive through in the comfort of your own vehicle or walk through to photograph and learn about the animals, the park and the history of the Portage Valley area. The owner raised buffalo and elk as a hobby since 1984, and wildlife officials began putting orphaned moose in his care. Eventually his hobby transformed into the Wildlife Center that you see today. Injured or orphaned animals are regularly brought to the Wildlife Center for care. The center often provides care and housing for non-releasable birds.
Seward: Seward's harbor bustles with cruise ships, fishing charters and sailing opportunities. Wildlife cruises leave around the clock for Kenai Fjords National Park to look for whales, seals and sea lions. The Alaska SeaLife Center offers up-close viewing of marine mammals and sea birds. The Harding Icefield on nearby Exit Glacier is a great place to explore. Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is one of Alaska's oldest and most scenic communities. Known as the "Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park" Seward is a picturesque town located 126 miles south of Anchorage.
Matanuska & Susitna River Valleys (Mat-Su Valley): The Matanuska Valley is fertile farmland that was settled by families who came from the Midwest as part of a New Deal relief program in 1935. Because of the fertile farmland and the immense amount of summer sunlight, vegetables grow to incredible sizes. The Alaska record cabbage is 106 pounds! However, huge vegetables are just one of the attractions at the State Fair held in Palmer each August. In the Susitna Valley visitors can explore Wasilla , home of the Iditarod Trail Committee Visitors Center, the unique Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, the Knik Museum and Sled Dog Mushers Hall of Fame. A few miles to the west is Big Lake, a popular weekend destination for boating and fishing.
Prince William Sound: Prince William Sound encompasses 10,000 square miles of protected waterways, islands, fjords, as well as 10,000 glaciers. The region offers habitat for whales, porpoise, sea otters, sea lions and seals. Bear, deer, goats and sheep inhabit the mainland. The communities of Whittier, Valdez and Cordova provide access to the area via day cruises, charter boats, flightseeing tours and the state ferry. One of the most famous attractions is Columbia Glacier - four miles wide and over 200 feet high at the face.