Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage started as a tent city 100 years ago, grew during the building of the Alaska Railway, was crippled during the 1964 earthquake, boomed again when oil was discovered and now is Alaska’s largest city.

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1 Alaska Center for Performing Arts in Anchorage, Alaska

On the left is the Alaska Center for Performing Arts. Built in 1988, it houses a concert hall, an event hall, and two theaters. One is named after Sydney Laurence, an Alaskan landscape painter. His ghost is reported to be a frequent guest in the building. In the foreground is Town Square which attracts ice skaters in the winter and skateboarders in the summer, plus annual events at Christmas, New Year’s Eve and public concerts. On the right is the Key Bank Plaza building.

621 W 6th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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2 Alaska’s Marine Life Mural by Wyland in Anchorage, Alaska

This detail of a mural by Robert Wyland shows two swimming killer whales. This mother whale is highly protective and nurturing to her calf. These orcas are just one of nine whale species found in Alaska’s coastal waters. This is #54 in Wyland’s Whaling Wall series of 100 murals across the world. It was painted at 406 West 5th Street in downtown Anchorage in 1994.

406 W 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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3 Moose Mural in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska

On the side of the Kimball building on 5th Avenue, which houses the Kobuk Coffee Company, is this delightful mural of a bull and calf moose. It is a very appropriate image for downtown Anchorage because an estimated 200,000 moose live in the Alaskan wild. But what I can’t decide is if I like the mural more than the coffee shop’s donuts?

504 W 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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4 Fourth Avenue Theater Marquee in Anchorage, Alaska

The Fourth Avenue Theater is now an empty shell that reflects its history as a first-run movie theater from 1947 until the mid-1980s. Its Art Deco style with the iconic, neon marquee was built by Austin “Cap” Lathrop, which is why it is also called the Lathrop Building. It is reminiscent of similar one-screen movie houses in downtowns across the United States that have mostly disappeared. Several attempts to finance a restoration project have failed.

630 W 4th Ave Anchorage, AK 99501
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5 Old Anchorage City Hall in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage’s original city hall housed the municipality’s offices plus a police station, jail and fire department when it opened in 1936. After being replaced by the new city hall, it was renovated in 1980. Now, as the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, it provides exhibits on Anchorage’s history plus hosts free summer concerts.

500 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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6 Lunch Cart Serving Reindeer in Anchorage, Alaska

Lunch carts on downtown streets in major cities is a fairly common sight but the food vendors in Anchorage promise something more than just an overcooked hot dog on a soggy bun: reindeer meat or sausage. There is a significant reindeer herd, also known as the Grant’s caribou, on nearby Seward Peninsula. But somehow I don’t think that subspecies name would entice the taste buds of passing, hungry tourists.

500 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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7 Contrast of Church and State Buildings in Anchorage, Alaska

As a photographer, I enjoy capturing unique perspectives. So it was fun to lie on my back in the wet grass, twist my head at a weird angle and hold my breath in hopes of getting this photo. In the background is the Robert B. Atwood Building, Anchorage’s second tallest at 265 feet. Its 20 floors contain government offices for the State of Alaska. In the foreground is the humble All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Their parish was founded in 1915 and the church was completed in 1953.

F St & W 8th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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8 Anchorage History Mural by Bob Patterson in Anchorage, Alaska

After a 45 year career in construction, Bob Patterson has become an extremely prolific artist including this mural called “Anchorage History” in downtown. Across its 120 foot width, Patterson has illustrated key years, events and the evolution of transportation from the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 until 1997 when the mural was painted. Patterson talent earned him the title of “Artist of the Year” by Northwest Magazine in 1997.

645 G St, Anchorage, AK 99501
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9 New City Hall Building in Anchorage, Alaska

This postmodernism City Hall, with its green and beige checkerboard cladding, was one of several buildings built after the area was devastated by the Great Alaska Earthquake in 1964. At the time, there was a debate about whether to rebuild portions of the downtown after it suffered such extensive damage.

632 W 6th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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10 Robert B. Atwood Building Reflection in Anchorage, Alaska

Robert Bruce Atwood was the Anchorage Time’s publisher but his true legacy was as the Chairman of the Alaska Statehood Committee that successfully lobbied to have Alaska become the 49th state. This State of Alaska government building is named in his honor. It reflects the strong vision he had for the future of “The Last Frontier.”

550 W 7th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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11 Putting Them All Together Mural by DeRoux in Anchorage, Alaska

It is easy to see why locals call this mural “Alaska’s Mount Rushmore.” What is not easy to fully appreciate are the 49 historic people, 73 communities and abundant wildlife that were carefully painted from old photographs into 512 small cells by Daniel DeRoux. The four main portraits are of the state’s first governor, the first two U.S. senators and Robert Atwood who chaired the committee to make Alaska the 49th state. The 40 by 20 foot “Putting Them All Together” mural is on the side of a parking garage on 7th Avenue.

517 W 7th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
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12 Anchorage Museum and Common in Anchorage, Alaska

The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center has an extensive collection of historical objects, artifacts, art and photographs that are on display or part of their archives. Collectively they tell the rich stories of the state’s past citizens, including the Indians and Eskimos, Russian immigrants, gold prospectors and pipeline builders. Two floors are devoted to the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.

625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501
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13 Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Anchorage, Alaska

The first United States Federal building and Courthouse was built in 1941, 16 years before Alaska became a state. This new Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse was built in 1979. In April of 2014, it was renamed the James M. Fitzgerald United States Courthouse in honor of the man’s distinguished career from 1959 through 1974 as a superior court judge, associate justice for Alaska Supreme Court, district judge, and chief judge.

222 W 7th Ave #14, Anchorage, AK 99513
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14 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake Photo of Downtown Anchorage, Alaska

On March 27, 1964, the world’s second largest recorded earthquake measuring 9.2 struck Prince William Sound in Alaska. It cut this downtown Anchorage street in half and displaced its elevation by 12 feet. It was chilling for me to see this photo at the earthquake exhibit at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center because, when I was 11 years old, I vividly remember seeing this devastation on Fourth Avenue. Please read my “Adventures” section for more details.

625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501
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15 AK Alchemist Moose Mural in Anchorage, Alaska

Stand on the corner of 4th Avenue and A Street in downtown Anchorage and you’ll find a few curious sights. The first is this 2013 mural by Deuel featuring a mechanical moose, strange sea creatures and tilted tree houses. It is on the side of the AK Alchemist coffee shop which is housed in a glass shipping container. Their signage broadcasts their specialties as halibut tacos, salmon quesadillas and reindeer tacos. What do you call this interesting combination? Their Facebook page defines it as “urban city swank and steam punk artistry.” Of course!

4th Ave & A Street Anchorage, AK 99501
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16 Walruses Mural by Richard Ziegler in Anchorage, Alaska

On the side of the David Green Master Furrier building on 4th Avenue is this delightful mural of walruses huddled side-by-side. It was painted in 1993 by Richard Ziegler. Perhaps it was commissioned by the clothing outfitter as a subliminal message that it gets cold in Alaska so come in and buy some warm clothes. For lots more of Ziggy’s outdoor art, stroll down the alley behind Fourth Avenue between C and E Streets. It’s a virtual gallery of street art.

4th Ave & A Street Anchorage, AK 99501
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Sunrise Approach to Whittier Harbor in Alaska

The town of Whittier has less than two hundred residents but hundreds of thousands of people use its deep port harbor each year to board or disembark their cruise ship. They also pass through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel which is only one lane that stretches 13,300 feet through the Maynard Mountains. A control gate regulates which way auto or train traffic will flow which can cause extended delays before making the 60 mile journey along the Seward Highway to Anchorage or other popular destinations like the Prince William Sound.

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