Whittier, Alaska
Overview
 
Whittier is a city in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area
Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska
Valdez-Cordova Census Area is a census area located in the state of Alaska, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population was 10,195. It is part of the unorganized borough and therefore has no borough seat...

, in the U.S. state of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. As of 2006, the population was 177. The city is also a port for the Alaska Marine Highway
Alaska Marine Highway
The Alaska Marine Highway or the Alaska Marine Highway System is a ferry service operated by the government of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has its headquarters in Ketchikan, Alaska....

.
Whittier is located at 60°46′27"N 148°40′40"W (60.774174, -148.677649), near the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage at the former town of Portage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier, a port for the Alaska Marine Highway...

.

Whittier is on the northeast shore of the Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai Peninsula is a large peninsula jutting from the southern coast of Alaska in the United States. The name Kenai is probably derived from Kenayskaya, the Russian name for Cook Inlet, which borders the peninsula to the west.-Geography:...

, at the head of Passage Canal, on the west side of Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound is a sound off the Gulf of Alaska on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its largest port is Valdez, at the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System...

. Whittier is 120 km (74.6 mi) southeast of Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

.

According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 19.7 square miles (51 km²), of which, 12.5 square miles (32.4 km²) of it is land and 7.2 square miles (18.6 km²) of it (36.36%) is water.
As of 2006, there were 177 people, 86 households, and 46 families residing in the city.
Encyclopedia
Whittier is a city in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area
Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska
Valdez-Cordova Census Area is a census area located in the state of Alaska, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population was 10,195. It is part of the unorganized borough and therefore has no borough seat...

, in the U.S. state of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. As of 2006, the population was 177. The city is also a port for the Alaska Marine Highway
Alaska Marine Highway
The Alaska Marine Highway or the Alaska Marine Highway System is a ferry service operated by the government of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has its headquarters in Ketchikan, Alaska....

.

Geography

Whittier is located at 60°46′27"N 148°40′40"W (60.774174, -148.677649), near the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage at the former town of Portage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier, a port for the Alaska Marine Highway...

.

Whittier is on the northeast shore of the Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai Peninsula is a large peninsula jutting from the southern coast of Alaska in the United States. The name Kenai is probably derived from Kenayskaya, the Russian name for Cook Inlet, which borders the peninsula to the west.-Geography:...

, at the head of Passage Canal, on the west side of Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound is a sound off the Gulf of Alaska on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its largest port is Valdez, at the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System...

. Whittier is 120 km (74.6 mi) southeast of Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

.

According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 19.7 square miles (51 km²), of which, 12.5 square miles (32.4 km²) of it is land and 7.2 square miles (18.6 km²) of it (36.36%) is water.

Demographics

As of 2006, there were 177 people, 86 households, and 46 families residing in the city. The population density was 14.5 people per square mile (5.6/km²). There were 213 housing units at an average density of 17.0 per square mile (6.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.12% White
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, 7.14% Asian
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, 5.49% Native American
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, and 8.24% from two or more races. Two people (1.10% of the population) are Hispanic
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

 or Latino
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

 of any race. There were no measurable populations of African Americans
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, Pacific Islanders
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

, or people from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

 though on a summer visit, it is possible to meet people of diverse backgrounds living in the single residence in the city.

Of the 86 households, 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.5% were non-families. 39.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 22.0% under the age of 18, 2.7% from 18 to 24, 36.8% from 25 to 44, 31.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 111.6 males. For every ten females age 18 and over, there are 12.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,500, and the median income for a family was $51,875. Males had a median income of $53,500 versus $26,875 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city was $25,700. About 4.1% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under the age of eighteen and none of those sixty five or over.

Climate

History

The Whittier Glacier near Whittier was named for the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets...

 in 1915.

During World War II the United States Army constructed a military facility, complete with port and railroad terminus near the glacier and named the facility Camp Sullivan. The spur of the Alaska Railroad
Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad is a Class II railroad which extends from Seward and Whittier, in the south of the state of Alaska, in the United States, to Fairbanks , and beyond to Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright in the interior of that state...

 to Camp Sullivan was completed in 1943 and the port became the entrance for United States soldiers into Alaska. The port remained an active army facility until 1960.

The two huge buildings that dominate Whittier were built after World War II. The Hodge Building (now Begich Towers
Begich Towers
The Begich Towers were constructed in 1952 by the U.S. Army as the Hodge Building along with the Buckner Building. These two buildings were the only two built in a project of ten buildings. It is called a city under one roof. When the Army pulled out of Whittier in 1960 it came into civilian...

) was built for housing soldiers and the Buckner Building, completed in 1953, was called the "city under one roof". Both buildings were at one time the largest buildings in Alaska. The Begich Building is now a condominium, and houses nearly all of Whittier's residents. The port remained an active Army facility until 1960. Whittier was incorporated in 1969.

The town was severely damaged by tsunamis triggered by the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake
Good Friday Earthquake
The 1964 Alaska earthquake, also known as the Great Alaskan Earthquake, the Portage Earthquake and the Good Friday Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake that began at 5:36 P.M. AST on Good Friday, March 27, 1964...

; thirteen people died due to waves that reached 13 m (43 ft).

Whittier is a popular port of call for cruise ships, as it has connections to Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

 and the interior of Alaska by both highway and rail. It is the embarkation/debarkation point of the Denali Express nonstop rail service to and from Denali National Park operated by Princess Tours
Princess Tours
Princess Tours is an Alaskan sightseeing passenger car service owned by P&O Princess Cruises and operated by its Rail Division. Princess Tours runs ten cars a day from Anchorage to Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad, stopping at Talkeetna, Denali, and occasionally Whittier...

. Whittier is also popular with tourists, sport fishermen and hunters.

Transportation

Access to Whittier may be accomplished by various modes. Seasonally, by air you may fly to the Whittier Airport
Whittier Airport
Whittier Airport is a state-owned public-use airport located one nautical mile northwest of the central business district of Whittier, a city in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area of the U.S. state of Alaska. The airport is situated on the northeast shore of the Kenai Peninsula.Although most U.S...

 (which is closed in the winter). The city also operates a seaplane dock. By water, one may use the marina or on the Alaska Marine Highway
Alaska Marine Highway
The Alaska Marine Highway or the Alaska Marine Highway System is a ferry service operated by the government of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has its headquarters in Ketchikan, Alaska....

. By land, access is through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage at the former town of Portage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier, a port for the Alaska Marine Highway...

.

The Tunnel

Known by locals as the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage at the former town of Portage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier, a port for the Alaska Marine Highway...

 is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway
Seward Highway
The Seward Highway is a highway in the U.S. state of Alaska that extends 127 miles from Seward to Anchorage. It was completed in 1951 and runs through the scenic Kenai Peninsula and Turnagain Arm, for which it was designated an All-American Road by the U.S...

 south of Anchorage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier. It is part of the Portage Glacier Highway and at 13,300 feet (4,050 m), is the second longest highway tunnel and longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America.

The original tunnel was completed in 1943, and used for railroad traffic. In the mid-1960s, the Alaska Railroad
Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad is a Class II railroad which extends from Seward and Whittier, in the south of the state of Alaska, in the United States, to Fairbanks , and beyond to Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright in the interior of that state...

 began offering a shuttle service for automobiles, similar to Amtrak
Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

's Auto Train, which allowed vehicles to drive onto railway cars to be transported between Whittier and the former town of Portage. As traffic to Whittier increased, the shuttle became inadequate, leading in the 1990s to a project to convert the existing railroad tunnel into a one-lane, combination highway and railway tunnel. Construction on this project began in September 1998, and the combined tunnel was opened to traffic on June 7, 2000.

As eastbound traffic, westbound traffic, and the Alaska Railroad must share the tunnel, there are often waits of two hours or more to enter. As reflected on the Alaska Department of Transportation
Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities is a department within the government of Alaska. The Department of Transportation & Public Facilities provides for the safe movement of people and goods and the delivery of State services. It has its headquarters in Juneau.-External links:*...

 Tunnel Website, it is now considered "North America's longest railroad-highway tunnel." The tunnel held the title of the longest road tunnel in North America (at nearly 2.5 miles [4 km]) until completion of the 3.5 miles (5.6 km) Interstate 93 tunnel as part of the "Big Dig" project in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a 2001 recipient of an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The tunnel is named after Anton Anderson, an army engineer who in 1941 headed up the construction of the railroad spur from Whittier to Portage.

Buckner Building

The Buckner Building was once the largest building in Alaska but was seriously damaged in the 9.2 1964 Alaska earthquake. It is now just a large, abandoned government building.

Two factors combine to make safe demolition of the building cost-prohibitive: First, there is a potentially dangerous amount of asbestos in the building. Second, the only land-route in and out of Whittier is through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a tunnel through Maynard Mountain in the U.S. state of Alaska. It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage at the former town of Portage with the relatively isolated community of Whittier, a port for the Alaska Marine Highway...

, so debris would either have to go through the tunnel or be moved on ships.

The building is a local hang out for kids, and is often explored by tourists. The safety of the building is marginal, due to the asbestos and questionable structural integrity. Bears are often found inside the building in the spring, and it is full of ice and precariously dangling pipes, wires, and substructure. The floors are almost completely flooded, with at least one inch or more of water on each level.

There are concrete staircases in the building. One is located near the garage and the others are in the middle of the structure. There are also fire exits on both sides, visible to the whole town.

The stairwell leading to the basement is in total darkness and at the bottom of the stairwell is "The Door". Through the door is the basement which, although caved in, is still accessible.

See also

  • Valdez-Cordova Census Area, which includes Whittier
  • Municipality of Anchorage and
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough, the two municipalities which border Whittier
  • Whittier Police Department (Alaska)
    Whittier Police Department (Alaska)
    The Whittier Police Department is the law enforcement agency covering Whittier, Alaska. The department was founded in 1993. The office is in a one room unit located on the first floor of the Begich Towers. The station has no place to hold or interrogate people. The force is made of one chief...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK