Discover Whittier, Alaska: ‘The Town Under One Roof’

Venture into the heart of Alaska where a unique town provides shelter to its residents under one building. Discover Whittier, Alaska’s history, lifestyle, and attractions of this one-of-a-kind community nestled amidst its stunning natural beauty.

Whittier, Alaska: A serene harbour town against the Chugach Mountains.

Whittier, Alaska, is tucked away in the majestic embrace of the Chugach Mountains and the serene waters of Prince William Sound. This town invites discovery in the most enchanting ways. A true hidden gem, it is accessible through the awe-inspiring Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel— the longest highway tunnel in North America, which beckons with the promise of untouched beauty, a deeply rooted sense of community, and an unparalleled quietude that stands in stark contrast to the bustling cities of the world. 

In this secluded haven, the spirit of discovery flourishes as Whittier offers a retreat into nature and an invitation to explore a unique way of life that has evolved in harmony with its surrounding landscape. But the allure of Whittier lies not only in its breathtaking vistas; it is also evident in the many stories of resilience and communal living that truly define this extraordinary town.

As you set out to discover Whittier, Alaska, you’ll be greeted by a town that embodies the essence of adventure and tranquility. The Begich Towers, a testament to Whittier’s remarkable community spirit, house nearly all its residents under one roof, creating a living experience unlike any other. 

This architectural marvel, alongside the town’s historical sites and natural wonders, forms the core of Whittier’s unique charm. The narrative of Whittier is a compelling invitation to immerse oneself in a world where the beauty of Alaska is matched by the warmth and ingenuity of its people. 

With each step through this remarkable town, visitors and residents are reminded of the joy of discovery, making Whittier not just a place to see but a world to experience.

A Town Like No Other

Imagine a place where the very concept of ‘neighborhood’ takes on a whole new meaning. In Whittier, Alaska, neary the entire population of residents share the same address, living under one roof in the Begich Towers. This unique living situation isn’t just a quirk; it’s a lifestyle that has evolved from the town’s historical roots as a strategic military location during WWII to a tight-knit community that thrives in the harsh Alaskan environment.

But the 14-story Begich Towers isn’t just a residential complex; it’s the lifeline of Whittier. Housing nearly all the town’s facilities, from the post office and general store to the local police department and a small hospital, the set up allows residents to navigate the challenges of living in one of the most remote areas in the United States. Naturally, it also fosters a strong sense of community and adapts to the extreme weather conditions that can isolate Whittier from the outside world.

Fun Facts To Help You Discover Whittier, Alaska

Did You Know?

  • Whittier is accessible by land only through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America.
  • The town was named after John Greenleaf Whittier, a prominent American Quaker poet and abolitionist.
  • Despite its small population, Whittier is a popular port for cruise ships exploring Prince William Sound, highlighting its significance as a tourist destination in Alaska.
Begich Towers in Whittier, Alaska.

History

With its dramatic transformation from a World War II military base to a serene residential haven, Whittier, Alaska, is a testament to its community’s adaptability and resilience. Initially established as a strategic military facility due to its strategic location at the entrance to Prince William Sound, it played a crucial role in the United States’ defense strategy. Over time, as the military presence dwindled, Whittier evolved, embracing its peaceful surroundings and transitioning into a civilian township. 

The remnants of its past, such as the Buckner Building and the Begich Towers, now serve as historical landmarks, intertwining the town’s military heritage with its present-day identity as a secluded yet vibrant community. This unique blend of history and natural beauty makes Whittier a place to live and a destination rich in stories and a testament to the enduring human spirit.

In terms of Whittier’s strategic importance, its accessible port and proximity to Anchorage make it an ideal location for a military base. The construction of the Begich Towers, known initially as the Hodge Building, and the adjacent Buckner Building were part of a grand plan to support military operations during and after the war. However, as the military presence dwindled, the people of Whittier adapted the infrastructure for civilian use, creating a one-of-a-kind living environment.

While the Buckner Building has long been abandoned, it remains a silent witness to the town’s past. On the other hand, the Begich Towers flourished into becoming the very heart of Whittier. Renamed in honor of Nick Begich— a former Alaskan Congressman, the towers now symbolize the resilience and adaptability of its community. The building’s transformation from a military project to a residential and commercial hub truly exemplifies the town’s ability to repurpose its history to benefit its residents.

Tourists marvel at the Chugach Mountains’ majesty in Alaska.

Living in Whittier: A Day in the Life

Discover Whittier, Alaska, where life unfolds within the unique confines of the Begich Towers, embodying the essence of community and individuality coexisting harmoniously. Standing tall amidst the Chugach Mountains’ breathtaking scenery and overlooking Prince William Sound’s serene waters, this architectural marvel encapsulates Whittier’s residential life. 

Here, the unparalleled convenience of having essential amenities— a grocery store, post office, health clinic, and even a school, all merely an elevator ride away from homes, defines its residents’ daily lives. The proximity to nature’s splendor only enables residents to seamlessly transition from indoor living to outdoor adventure. Stepping out, they can engage in fishing, kayaking, or glacier viewing, allowing everyone to make the most of the Alaskan wilderness that envelops the town. This blend of modern living amenities with the rugged beauty of Alaska creates a day-to-day life that is as rich and varied as the landscape surrounding Whittier.

From enjoying a cup of coffee with neighbors at the local store to attending a service at the small Methodist Church, daily life in Whittier encapsulates the essence of community living. The availability of amenities within the Begich Towers ensures that residents can lead a comfortable life despite the town’s remote location.

In discovering Whittier, Alaska, we witness how the town’s natural allure lies beyond the confines of the Begich Towers. Whittier is also a gateway to Alaska’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including the nearby Whittier Glacier. Adventure enthusiasts will surely find no shortage of activities, from adventures in its tranquil waters to exploring the trails that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Attractions and Activities in Whittier

Offering a captivating mix of historical intrigue and natural splendor, Whittier, Alaska is indeed a must-visit destination for travelers with diverse interests. With the Begich Towers being the town’s most famous landmark, it provides a unique glimpse into the communal lifestyle of its residents and houses essential amenities, creating a living museum of modern Alaskan life. 

However, outside this architectural marvel, the Portage Glacier and the surrounding Chugach National Forest also invite explorers to marvel at icy landscapes and lush woodlands. For marine enthusiasts, Prince William Sound offers breathtaking kayak journeys past glaciers and through fjords teeming with marine wildlife. 

Additionally, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America, serves as a gateway to discovering Whittier, Alaska, presenting an extraordinary engineering feat for visitors. 

These destinations within and around the walls of the Begich Towers ensure an unforgettable discovery of Whittier, Alaska’s true hidden gems.

Exploring the Great Outdoors

These stories of Whittier’s transformation from a military outpost to a civilian community are absolutely as captivating as the landscape itself. Discovering Whittier, Alaska, where the natural beauty surrounding this unique town is unparalleled, offers visitors a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature. 

Prince William Sound is another must-visit for anyone traveling to Whittier with its stunning fjords and abundant wildlife. Whether embarking on a boat tour to spot whales and seals or fishing to catch the day’s meal, the sound provides a perfect backdrop for adventure.
For those interested in the history and culture of Whittier, Alaska, a visit to the local museum or a guided tour of the Begich Towers provides a deep dive into the town’s past and present. Let thiscityknows.com be your guide in finding the best accommodations that allows you to visit the Begich Towers and more of its nearby wonders.

Fafa Ethan
Author: Fafa Ethan

Fafa Ethan, with his extensive experience in creative sectors and hospitality, is a trailblazer for those who tread off the beaten path. His unique approach to solo travel and storytelling captures the essence of undiscovered locales, offering readers a glimpse into the heart of each destination. Fafa’s narratives are a blend of insightful observation and spontaneous adventure, inspiring the wanderlust in every reader to seek out their uncharted territories.

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