Usman Ekmekci

Anchorage is one of the northern-most cities on Earth. Anchorage is located in the south-central portion of Alaska at the terminus of the Cook Inlet on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.

Its location on the globe puts Anchorage within 9 and 1/2 hours by air to nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, it is a common refueling stop for many international passenger flights and is home to a major FedEx Hub.

History

Russian presence in south central Alaska was well established in the 19th century. In 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward brokered a deal to purchase Alaska from Imperial Russia for $7.2 million (about two cents an acre). His political rivals lampooned the deal as "Seward's folly", "Seward's icebox" and "Walrussia". By 1888, gold was discovered along Turnagain Arm.

In 1912, Alaska became a United States territory. Anchorage, unlike every other large town in Alaska south of the Brooks Range, was neither a fishing nor a mining camp. The area surrounding Anchorage lacks significant economic metal minerals. While a number of Dena'ina settlements existed along Knik Arm for years, only two white men, Bud Whitney and Jack Brown, were reported to have lived in the Ship Creek valley in the 1910s prior to the large influx of settlers.

The city grew from its happenstance choice as a site of a railroad construction port for the Alaska Engineering Commission. The construction of the Alaskan Railroad continued until its completion in 1923. The city’s economy in the 1920’s and 1930s centered on the railroad.

Between the 1930s and 1950s, the city experienced massive growth as air transportation and the military gained importance. In 1968 ARCO discovered oil in Prudhoe Bay on the Alaska North Slope, and the resulting oil boom spurred further growth in Anchorage. In 1975, the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough (which includes Eagle River, Girdwood, Glen Alps, and several other communities) merged into the geographically larger Municipality of Anchorage.

The city continued to grow in the 1980s and since then several attempts have been made to move Alaska's state capital from Juneau to Anchorage - or to a site closer to Anchorage.

Things to Do

The city is on a strip of coastal lowland and extends up the lower alpine slopes of the Chugach Mountains. Point Campbell, the westernmost point of Anchorage on the mainland, juts out into Cook Inlet near its northern end, at which point it splits into two arms. To the south is Turnagain Arm, a fjord that has some of the world's highest tides. Knik Arm, another tidal inlet, lies to the west and north. The Chugach Mountains on the east form a boundary to development, but not to the city limits, which encompass part of the wild alpine territory of Chugach State Park.

Parks and Recreation

Alaska Native Heritage Center is much more than just a static museum of glass display cases. The various native Alaskan cultures are all represented in this center. A large stage holds native dance performances as well as other types of events for visitors. Behind the center, a short trail around the lake takes you to several stations that show aspects of life in each of the native Alaskan cultures. Also, many items such as artwork, kayaks and ulu knives are on display.

The Alaska Botanical Garden is an independent non-profit organization which opened in 1993. The mission of the Garden it to enhance the beauty and value of plant material through education, preservation, recreation and research. The Garden's land consists mainly of spruce and birch forest.

Chugach State Park is the third-largest state park in the United States and consists of geographically disparate areas. Hunting and fishing are permitted in the Chugach under regulations. The park has access to 16 trailheads and 110 trails. Travelers go on foot, by mountain bike, ATV or on horseback. This park is popular with the photographers as it houses diverse wildlife as well as topography. There are more than 45 species of mammals living in this park. The brown bears and moose are so prevalent that you often find them wandering in the streets of Anchorage.

Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge is located on a 16-mile-long section of coastline in Anchorage, Alaska. The vast majority of the refuge is located on intertidal floodplains of glacial silt, with a smaller portion consisting of coastal wetlands, bogs, wooded areas, and Potter Marsh, a popular wildlife viewing area.

The refuge is open to the public year-round. Popular activities include birdwatching, hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Potter Marsh is open during the winter for ice skating. Despite its proximity to urban Anchorage, public access to much of the refuge is limited to unmarked trails through wooded areas, and the glacial silt floodplains that make up most of the refuge can be dangerous.

Alyeska Resort is a ski resort in Girdwood, Alaska. Mount Alyeska is part of the Chugach mountain range and the Alyeska Resort is the largest ski area in the state. The other ski areas are Arctic Valley Ski Area and Hilltop Ski Area.