Anchorage surprises the first-time visitor with its sprawling, modern metropolis and commercial center. People are reminded of their homes in the Lower 48 states with its large airport, multi-laned freeways, and skyscrapers.
This city, which is the state's largest, traces its roots back to 1915 when it was a tent camp for the railroad being built to link up the port of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula with the Interior. Several economic booms have contributed to its growth over the years. Nowadays, more than half the state's entire population resides here. The city was severely damaged by the 1964
Located on a bench-land 30 feet above high tide, Anchorage faces Cook Inlet; the Chugach Mountains form a backdrop. To the north, the city has a great view of the Talkeetna Mountains and the snow-capped Alaska Range.
The Knik and Turnagain arms are the two muddy branches of the inlet that surround the broad peninsula where the city lies. Southeast of the city, both the paved Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad border the north shore of Turnagain Arm, which was aptly named by Captain Cook, who discovered it while looking for the Northwest Passage.
It's 48 miles to Portage, where the highway and railroad heads south onto the Kenai Peninsula. To the east, the Kenai Mountains hides the fact that this peninsula is linked to the Alaskan mainland by a strip of land hardly 10 miles wide.
Highways to the Interior begin in Anchorage. Just follow the George Parks Highway to Denali National Park and Preserve and to Fairbanks. The Glenn Highway extends eastward to join the scenic Richardson Highwayleading to Valdez. Enjoy a pleasurable 2-day loop via a combination land-water excursion on the Glenn, Richardson, and Seward highways with a boat trip between Valdez and Whittier.
How to Get There
Nicknamed the "Air Crossroads of the World," Anchorage is a jumping-off point to several other parts of the state. From here it's easy to get to the Panhandle, the Kenai Peninsula, the Arctic, the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian and Pribilof islands and Kodiak Island. Mt. McKinley and Fairbanks are just a short distance away by air.
International airlines use a separate terminal at the Anchorage airport, scheduled interstate air carriers reach the Lower 48, and a half-dozen inter-Alaska airlines, as well as several bush pilots, maintain headquarters here.
Anchorage is likewise the hub for the Alaska Railroad. Trains run everyday in summer (less often the rest of the year) from Anchorage to Whittier on Turnagain Arm, and from Anchorage north to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. Three-times-a-week passenger service connects Anchorage and Seward.
The climate in Anchorage nearly resembles the Rocky Mountains. Annual rainfall is just 14 inches; snowfall normally at 60 inches. Summers are quite pleasant.
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