Located at the upper end of Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage is Alaska's largest community. This popular tourist destination and crossroads for global air travel is only minutes away from the recreational areas bordering the Gulf of Alaska.
HistoryThough Anchorage is unquestionably a 20th-century city, its history dates back some 6,000 years. Archaeological finds at Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm have revealed that Chugachimiut and Tanaina peoples once settled in the area. The first European in the region was the English adventurer Captain James Cook, who charted the waters in 1778.
Prospectors crisscrossed the region in search of gold at the turn of the century, but it was not until 1915 that Anchorage took root, with the construction of the Alaska Railroad. During World War II, two military bases were established, and the economy began to expand. Access to Anchorage was improved when it was linked to the Alaska Highway.
Anchorage faced its greatest challenge on March 27, 1964, when the strongest earthquake ever measured on the North American continent struck the region. The U.S. government provided funds for a massive rebuilding effort, which was, in part, responsible for the city's modern look. With the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968 and the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1974, Anchorage experienced another upsurge in growth. Today, Anchorage is a modern metropolis, ready to face the challenges of the 21st century.
SightseeingYou should first visit the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center, with its quaint sod roof, at the corner of West 4th Avenue and F Street, which provides maps and brochures about the city and its environs.
At Old City Hall, located on West 4th Avenue east of the information center, you can see exhibits on Anchorage's history. Inside Boney Memorial Courthouse, on the corner of West 3rd Avenue and K Street, you'll discover numerous wall panels depicting 19th-century Yup'ik life, as well as Alaskan animals.
If you're curious about how the city's early-20th-century residents lived, you can visit some historic houses. In the 500 and 600 blocks of West 2nd Avenue are the Christensen House, the Leopold David House and the Edes House.
East of the Christensen House on 2nd Avenue and down the hill is the Alaska Railroad Depot. Just to the north, Ship Creek enters Cook Inlet; there's a viewing platform for watching the salmon, which run up the creek throughout the summer.
One of the city's unique attractions is the Imaginarium, at 725 West 5th Avenue. This Alaskan science discovery center features numerous displays and participatory exhibits about the aurora borealis, aviation and earthquakes. A special presentation, the Imagizoo, will entertain the whole family.
Among the city's cultural offerings are several museums. Four of the most interesting are: the Anchorage Museum of History & Art, at 121 West 7th Avenue; the Visual Arts Center, at the corner of West 5th Avenue and G Street; the Reeve Aviation Picture Museum, at 343 West 6th Avenue; and the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, located in the Anchorage Bowl, as greater Anchorage is known, at 4721 Aircraft Drive.
ShoppingAnchorage has several shopping centers in and around the downtown area. Exclusive specialty shops are located throughout the city and the Anchorage Bowl.
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