Cool Critters
Fun and Games
Know Alaska
Alaska Quick Facts
Alaska Geography
Community Profiles
Alaska History
Where to Learn More
Get Active
Love the Arts
We're Cooking
Lit Kids
Native Cultures About

Home  >  Know Alaska  >  Alaska Geography  >  Community Profiles
Anchorage: Alaska's Largest City

About 40 percent of all Alaskans live in Anchorage, some 280,000 people. It is also one of the youngest cities to be formally founded.

Athabaskan Indians were the first humans to gather in this area. For hundreds of years, they lived around Ship Creek. They found plenty of fish, wildlife, and wild plants to eat around this area. The weather was milder than that of the lands to the north where most other Athabaskans lived.

Few other people came to the area until Captain James Cook. He sailed up Turnagain Arm during his 1778 search for the Northwest Passage. Many think this was the first time the Indians had met anyone from outside the area. After that, gold seekers and other explorers traveled through, but no one made it a home. It wasn’t until President Woodrow Wilson picked Ship Creek as the starting point for the Alaska Railroad that other people came to stay. In 1915, workers arrived. Tents went up, work began on the railroad, and a town was born. Sitka, Nome, Juneau, and Fairbanks were all founded before this.

In her book about Anchorage, Dr. Elizabeth Tower tells how the town got the name “Anchorage.” People started calling it “Knik Anchorage.” Then it became just “Anchorage.” Other names were suggested, so the people held an election. On August 9, 1915, voters made their choice. Other choices were: Matanuska, Alaska City, Ship Creek, Winalaska, Gateway, Terminal, Homestead, and Lane. Anchorage easily won the vote.

During the railroad building boom, about 6,000 people called Anchorage home. By 1920, there were less than 2,000 people. The railroad was finished. World War I took people. And on top of everything, a raging flu had killed many. It wasn’t until the end of World War II that the town started to grow again. Men who had been stationed here during the war came back with their families. In 1959 when Alaska became a state, some 83,000 people lived in Anchorage. When the Alaska pipeline was being built in the 1970s, more people came. Today, nearly 280,000 people live in Anchorage.

The city still offers some of the frontier flavor of the past. Bears and moose still roam a city that includes Chugach State Park. This park is the third largest in the nation and is about 15 minutes from downtown. You can be driving on a freeway and in just a short time be hiking in a 500,000 acre wilderness.

Anchorage is a center for shopping and transportation for most of the state. It’s been called the “Air Crossroads of the World” almost since people started flying. Its museums, shops, art galleries, movie theaters, music productions, hospitals and universities match many found in larger cities.

Anchorage is six hours from Chicago by air or three hours from Seattle. It may take a while to get here, but people from all over the world have made Anchorage their home.

If you live in Anchorage, what do you like best about living there?

Gallery of Images

Click for Fullsize
Anchorage city view

Click for Fullsize
Anchorage 4th of July Parade

Click for Fullsize
Anchorage Bear Valley School

Click for Fullsize

Click for Fullsize
Anchorage moose

Click for Fullsize
First Tracks of Alaska Railroad

LitSite AlaskaKids is a program of LitSite Alaska
CONTACT     Read our privacy policy   
Copyright © 2000 - 2024. All rights reserved. University of Alaska Anchorage / UAA.
University of Alaska Anchorage