History of Anchorage Alaska

How much do you know about Anchorage? Check out these interesting facts, online resources and look at Anchor Town's unique past.


History of Anchorage Alaska -


Did You Know?

Anchorage Alaska History

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Seward's Folly

It all began way back in 1867 when U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward headed up the idea of purchasing Alaska from Russia.


The purchase price ended up at around two cents an acre, or $7.2 million dollars.


But Seward's purchase was not popular with some and Alaska became known as "Seward's Folly", "Seward's Icebox" and "Walrussia". But, many years later, a major Highway out of Anchorage was named in honor of William H. Seward.


In 1912, Alaska became a Territory of the United States.


Then a Tiny Settlement Began Around 1914

Anchorage as a "Tent City"

Anchorage Tent City

It didn't get started because someone discovered gold, although gold was discovered along Turnagain Arm (Cook Inlet) in 1888.


Anchor Town got it's start way back in 1914 when a construction camp was needed for the Alaska Railroad. So a kind of "tent city" was cobbled together at the mouth of Ship Creek and later along the bluff area.

Most of the first residents were railroad employees.


Still a Territory - 1944

the streets of down town anchorage in 1944

Just 30 years later in 1944, our town was looking more like any small town in the United States. 

The tent city had moved "up the hill" away from Ship Creek and to what would become the town's main street, 4th Avenue.


History of Anchorage Alaska


Delaney "Park Strip"

In the summer of 1924, it was used as Anchorage's first air strip

Delaney Park 1924

Because of it's remote location and a lack of roads, airplanes quickly became very important to Alaska's largest city and the rest of the Great Land.

Planes could easily bring in supplies for a growing community.

The first place for airplanes to land in Anchorage was what is now know as the "Park Strip".


History of Anchorage Alaska


Merrill Field Tower

Tower at Merrill Field

Later in 1930, Merrill Field, named after Alaskan aviation pioneer, Russel Merrill, replaced the Park Strip as the official airport for Anchorage.

Following that, the Park Strip became the largest dedicated park in Anchorage. Today, it's still a large, community gathering place for dignitary visits from all over the world.


During the 1930s, Merrill Field had so much air traffic that it became the most active civilian airport in the entire U.S.


Anchorage International Airport opened in 1951.



Did You Know?


Kimball's Dry Goods Store

the picture below is from 1997


Kimball's Dry Goods Store, was located at 500 and 504 West 5th Avenue in downtown Anchorage from 1915 to 2002.

It is the only building to have been at it's original location, from the founding of our town. Established by Irving J. Kimball and later operated by his daughter until her death in 2002.





Peggy's Airport Cafe


Looking at the history of Anchorage Alaska, Peggy's Airport Cafe (now just "Peggy's Cafe") Located at 1675 E. 5th Avenue, across from Merrill Field, was first opened by Peggy Lott, who lived to be 103 years of age.

The pies served at Peggy's were made from recipes created by Peggy Lott and June Bowen. Feodoria Pennington, the mother of Mary Dougherty of Anchorage Memories, used to bake the pies at Peggy's.





Elmendorf Air Force Base

Now Joint Base Elmendorf - Richardson

Anchorage's air force base

Anchorage got a large boost in it's population when Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were built just out of town in the 1940s.


By 1951, our town had a population of around 47,000.



History of Anchorage Alaska


Statehood Newspaper Headlines

Newspaper headlines declaring statehood

The newspaper headline above says it all.


On January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state.


To celebrate, Anchorage had a community gathering at a huge bonfire.



Good Friday, March 27, 1964

The Earth Shook for 5 Minutes


Destruction on L Street in Anchorage

The Four Seasons apartments (which were under construction and collapsed during the quake) are seen in front of the original Providence Hospital in the top of the picture below.


After the 1964 Alaska earthquake

On Good Friday, March 27, 1964 the earth began to shake.


It began at 5:36pm and lasted for 5 minutes.


When it was finally over, destruction was everywhere in Anchorage and in other parts of the state.


The quake measured a magnitude of 9.2 and was the largest ever recorded in North America.


But like always, Anchorage bounced back -


Check out these amazing Alaska 1964 Earthquake Stories right now.




Alaska Oil Pipeline


Four years after the Great Alaska Earthquake, in 1968, oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Slope.


A pipeline was constructed that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.


Pipeline construction brought a boom economy to what had by then, become a large city.



Modern Day City Skyline

Anchorage today

Much has changed over the years when it comes to the history of Anchorage Alaska.


From a crude tent city on the muddy backs of Ship Creek in 1914, to the skyline of today's modern city with all the services and amenities you'd expect to find anyplace in the United States.



Want to Learn More?

Check out Anchorage Alaska Facts right now.


A Rich History


Anchorage Memories wants to make it easy and convenient for you to discover historical information and stories from all over Anchorage and vicinity.


Here you'll discover links that will take you to websites in Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Knik and many more historical websites across the Great Land.



History of Anchorage Alaska


Check Out the Links Below to Learn More


largest city in alaska




winter in alaska




Museum in downtown Anchorage




The Matanuska Valley




The early days of Wasilla




Wasilla, Alaska




The small town of Homer, Alaska




Hope historical district




The coastal town of Seward




Anchorage Memories


Whether you grew up in or around Anchor Town, or you visited Alaska, you'll love checking out the many pages of memories you'll discover here on Anchorage Memories.com


And we also encourage you to post your memories too.


Do you have questions about posting here? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page right now.



Preserving Your Memories


All too often, our precious memories fade with time and after a while, they become forgotten.


Because of this website, you can easily preserve your memories online by posting your stories. And family and friends, as well as other visitors to this website, can comment on your posts.


And by the way, all posts and comments are moderated, so all posts and comments that appear on this website are appropriate and family friendly.


And that means, your posts and comments are protected and give our visitors a fun look at growing up, living in, or visiting Anchorage.


How many times have you mentioned that you lived in or visited Alaska, and someone told you they had always wanted to visit the 49th state?


People are fascinated by the final frontier, and most people would like to visit the great land.


Because of that, we offer this History of Anchorage Alaska resource page and this fun website.





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