28 Fun Facts About Anchorage, Alaska

by Janis on March 25, 2015

Anchorage, AlaskaAnchorage, Alaska is a special place for Mr. Jones. He was born and raised here; his father was in the original military contingent that helped build the Alaska Highway (ALCAN). We thought we’d share some favorite fun facts.

28 Fun Facts About Anchorage, Alaska

Captain Cook, Anchorage, Alaska1. English explorer Captain James Cook is credited with first exploring and describing the Anchorage area in 1778.

2. The city of Anchorage got its start in 1914 when it was chosen at the site of a railroad-construction port for the Alaska Railroad.

3. Construction of the Alaska Railroad began in 1915. The area near the mouth of Ship Creek where the railroad headquarters was located quickly became a tent city of workers, transforming Anchorage into a bustling frontier town.

4. Anchorage was incorporated on November 23, 1920.

5. Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were constructed during WWII, and the military served as Anchorage’s primary economic engine until the oil boom. The two military bases were combined to form Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2005.

Anchorage, Alaska6. On March 27, 1964 the Good Friday Earthquake hit Anchorage, killing 115 people. The earth-shaking event lasted nearly five minutes; measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale it is the strongest ever recorded in North America. You can learn more by visiting the city’s Earthquake Park.

7. In 1968 ARCO discovered oil in Prudhoe Bay on the Alaska North Slope, and the resulting oil boom fueled further growth in Anchorage.

8. By area, Anchorage is one the largest cities in the U.S., encompassing 1,961 square miles – nearly the size of the state of Delaware.

9. With a population around 300,000, Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and home to more than 41 percent of the state’s population. Major industries include government and military, petroleum, and tourism.

10. The city of Anchorage sits on a triangular peninsula surrounded by the Cook Inlet, which is the northernmost reach of the Pacific Ocean. Anchorage is a major port, receiving over 95% of all freight entering Alaska.

11. Anchorage’s location on the globe puts it within 9.5 hour of flying time to almost 90% of the industrialized world. The city is a major FedEx Hub. Twenty-six percent of the U.S. international air freight by tonnage moves through the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, which is the world’s fifth busiest cargo airport by tonnage.

Anchorage, Alaska

On a clear day, you can view Denali from Anchorage. Denali is the tallest mountain in North America.

12. You can see six mountain ranges from Anchorage: The Chugach, Kenai, Talkeetna, Tordrillo, Alaska and Aleutian. On clear days in Anchorage, you can see Mount McKinley which is located 130 miles north this 20,320-foot peak is the tallest mountain in North America.

13. At 61 degrees north, Anchorage lies slightly farther north than Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Saint Petersburg. Anchorage is as far west as Honolulu, Hawaii.

Anchorage, Alaska14. With extreme tidal changes and very fine glacial silt, most of Anchorage’s seacoast consists of treacherous mudflats.

15. Located on Anchorage’s Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the Alaska Aviation Museum features 30 historic aircraft, aviation artifacts and memorabilia that contributed to the development of Alaska aviation. Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane base, handling an average of 190 flights per day.

16. Anchorage’s public bus system is called the “People Mover.”

17. Originally opened in 1968 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, expanded with the addition of the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center in 2010, which features Alaska Native artifacts on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution.

18. Approximately 250 black bears and 60 grizzly bears live within urban Anchorage and the surrounding area.

19. Moose are also a common sight in Anchorage with a summer population of 250 that increases to more than 1,500 moose during the winter.

20. Fishing for King and Silver salmon at Ship Creek next to downtown is popular in the summer.

21. In the summer, daytime temperatures in Anchorage average between 55 to 78 °F, dropping to 5 to 30 °F during the winter months.   The city averages 75.5 inches of annual snow fall.

22. Anchorage has been named by Kiplinger as the most tax-friendly city in the United States with no sales tax or state income tax from its citizens. Yes, there is a Nordstorm in downtown Anchorage for tax-free shoe shopping.

23. Anchorage, like all of Alaska, has no native snake population. The only snakes found in the wild are escaped “pets.”

24. On the first Saturday in March, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race kicks off with its ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, continuing 1,049 miles to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast.

25. The city of Anchorage was the U.S. candidate for hosting the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics, but lost to Albertville, France and Lillehammer, Norway respectively.

26. There are 105 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails in Anchorage.

27. Anchorage has more espresso stands, per capita, than anywhere in the U.S.

28. Hollywood has embraced Anchorage in recent years, filming “Big Miracle,” “The Frozen Ground“ and “Ghost Vision” among other movies and television shows in Anchorage.

Learn more about Anchorage, Alaska with these resources:

Explorer’s Guide 50 Hikes Around Anchorage

Moon Anchorage, Denali & the Kenai Peninsula


Anchorage DIY City Guide and Travel Journal: City Notebook for Anchorage, Alaska

Check out these other “Fun Facts” posts on Alaska destinations:

Are you planning a trip to Anchorage, Alaska? Check out these posts: 

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