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Home  >  Know Alaska  >  Alaska Geography  >  Community Profiles
Barrow: The Northernmost City in North America

The largest Inupiat Eskimo community in the world feels like it could be sitting on the very edge of the world. No other town in the United States is located as far north. But people have been living there since 500 A.D., the time of King Arthur.

Whales drew the people to this place and have kept them close. Located where the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas come together, Barrow offers those who live there with a prime whaling site. The Inupiat name for Barrow, “Utkiakvik,” means ‘high place for viewing.’ It is only about 30 feet high, but that small rise gave hunters the best place to look out for whales and other sea mammals.

Whaling is still a major part of life in this community of 4,500 people. But Barrow is also the center of government and transportation for the large North Slope Borough.

In 2006, the teenagers of Barrow voted to start a football team. The team made headlines. A woman from Florida read about the team and wanted to help. She began a national effort to raise money for them. By the beginning of the team’s first full year of play, she had enough money to install a bright blue, man-made field for them. The team no longer had to play on a hard gravel field. Reporters from all over came to Barrow to share the story with the world. It wasn’t the first time Barrow had been in the spotlight. In 1988 the effort to free three gray whales trapped in the ice even brought the Russians to the rescue. And in 1935 the famous humorist and movie start Will Rogers and his pilot Wiley Post were killed in a plane crash nearby. The airport is named for the pair.

Barrow is also famous as the place where they don’t see the sun for 67 days in the winter. The sun sets on November 18 and doesn’t rise again until January 24. Of course, the opposite is true in the spring when the sun rises on May 10 and doesn’t set again until August 2 and Barrow residents enjoy constant daylight.

What do you think it would be like to live in a place where the sun doesn’t rise for more than two months?

Gallery of Images

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The blanket toss ends the day's outside activities during the Nalukatuk festival in Barrow. The festival celebrates the Inupiat subsistence whale hunt.

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Children on bikes at the famous Bowhead whale bone arches and the frame of an umiak or whale boat at the Arctic Ocean at Barrow.

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Aerial view of the farthest north community of Barrow.

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