Anchorage, the largest city above Edmonton
in North America, is a sprawl
of subdivisions that fills the so-called 'Anchorage Bowl', a flat costal plane hemmed in by Prince William Sound
on one side and by dramatic mountain
s on the rest. Most of the population lives in the flat part of the bowl, but some of the wealthier types live on the steeply sloping hillside at the base of the mountains.
Anchorage was founded in 1921 as a camp for workers building the Alaska Railway, and grew as a port and transfer point to the railway. By the 50s it was the largest city in Alaska with a population of around 50,000. It suffered severe damage in the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, including an incident where the main street at the time, 4th Avenue, collapsed and fell 15 feet. As oil became the mainstay of the Alaska economy, Anchorage grew as the administration center for that industry, as well as tourism, and was rebuilt on an extremely suburban scale, with ridiculously wide boulevards. The population nearly doubled in the 80s.
Today it is surprisingly diverse, with African Americans and Asians making up large portions of the population, including immigrants from Guam, Samoa, and Hawaii.
Although the city lies above 60 degrees latitude, the climate is moderated by the 'west coast' effect. Winters are cold, but not in an extreme way. Ex-Anchorage-ites find the winters of New York and Boston to be worse than those of their hometown. Summers are brief and mild, and can feature only a couple of hours of dark. Anchorage's parks and lawns features a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees, which is remarkable considering that in eastern North America 60 degrees latitude is well above the tree line.
The influx of oil money over 30 years has given Anchorage amenities not usually associated with cities its size. Another unique characteristic is the presence of large amounts of wildlife within the city. It is commonplace to encounter moose wandering down streets and bears are responsible for several injuries a year.
Data compiled from knowing people and trip to Alaska, May 2000. A trip to the Earthquake museum is highly recommended