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Anchorage History, Alaska

Anchorage History – The Alaskan Acquisition

Anchorage history starts with the Russian presence in Alaska, which had been making itself very well noticed in the 19th century. Imperial Russia was full of debts, so US secretary William H. Seward proposed a deal to the Russians and bought the whole island for just 7.2 million dollars, which equals two cents per acre. Although the deal was fought against at first, soon gold was discovered in the territory and Alaska became part of the United States in 1912. The first measure the American authorities took was to build a railroad and Anchorage was the physical and logistic point for this construction. The building started in 1915 and the Chamber of commerce was founded in parallel, while ground started being bought within today’s city limits. At the same time, World War I produced high damage on the Anchorage population and economy, but with the completion of the railroad in 1923 it could provide economical stability right through the ‘20s.

Anchorage History – World War II and the City’s Expansion

The Anchorage International Airport which opened in 1951 was one of the most prosperous of its time in the US territory as it provided flights both for Europe and Asia, but the flight tradition of Anchorage goes back to the ‘30s, when the Merrill Field landing strip was one of the busiest in the United States. Given its position, Alaska in general and Anchorage in particular were transformed in strong military bases during World War II, because of the Japanese threat and of the Cold War. The fifth decade saw the city expanding, as Alaska became the 49th state in 1959 and there was soon a shortage of houses. Suburbs were built as a reaction and soon the first television station and the first traffic lights appeared.

Anchorage History – The Oil Boom and the Increased Living Standards

One significant moment in Anchorage history is the 1964 earthquake known as “the Good Friday Earthquake”, that had a magnitude of 9.2 and caused enormous destruction that was felt even in Talkeetna and Seward. Unfortunately, Anchorage itself was so severely damaged that the whole decade remained under the sign of the earthquake and the reconstruction that followed. The period that came immediately after this was dominated by the discovery and exploitation of oil resources that brought so much money and investors to the state that Anchorage became the main location for offices and headquarters of prosperous oil companies. Becoming increasingly prosperous, by 1980 the city had more than 185.000 inhabitants. Investments started being made in infrastructure and long term planning became a priority for the community, which lifted the living standards and led to the construction of a library, a sports arena and a performing arts center.

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  • bicskaTravels in Alaska, review of a great movie
    review by bicska posted more then 30 days ago
    If you really like traveling you must watch this film! I really really recommend it to you! Into the Wild is a 2007 film based on the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer about the adventures of Christopher McCandless. It was directed by Sean Penn, who also wrote the screenplay,...
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Read our members' travel tips about Anchorage

  • travelllerAnchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
    travel tip by travelller posted more then 30 days ago
    From the outside, the Anchorage Museum at Ramuson Center just blends with its surrounding being made from mirror glass. It is a magnificent sight, so even if you don't really have time for a thorough visit, for a picture is...
  • zloriOscar Anderson House Museum
    travel tip by zlori posted more then 30 days ago
    It is a beautiful house with an interesting and educational tour. Touring the Oscar Anderson House Museum is definitely worth it. Price is really good for the ticket, so being an expensive tour couldn't be an excuse. The museum is...
  • ElzaAlaska Native Heritage Museum
    travel tip by Elza posted more then 30 days ago
    We've visited the Alaska Native Heritage Museum a few years back during the summer. It was a memorable experience. We learned so much that day. The whole museum is very interesting and quite educational. There are so many things to...
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Anchorage City Ratings

  • Rating70%
    City Rank224
  • History & Culture: not rated
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  • Family & Fun: rated for 70%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 70%
  • Food: not rated
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  • Must visit this place: not rated
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