July 22, 2024
residential district in whittier ak by aimeeorleans is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0. 750

residential district in whittier ak by aimeeorleans is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0. 750

Discover the history and living conditions of Begich Towers in Whittier, Alaska. Learn about the challenges faced by the residents and the efforts to improve safety and quality of life. Explore the unique community in this isolated housing complex.

The Begich Towers: Alaskan Town Residents Living in ONE Building?

The Begich Towers, located in Whittier, Alaska, is a residential building where almost all of the town’s residents live. The building serves as the center of community life, fostering a sense of interdependence and shared responsibility among its inhabitants. It is a unique example of how architecture and design can shape the way a community operates.

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residential district in whittier ak by aimeeorleans is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.
Residential District in Whittier AK by aimeeorleans is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

What is the Begich Towers?

The Begich Towers is a 14-floor building located in Whittier, Alaska. It is most notable for being the residence for nearly the entire population of the town, as well as containing many of its public facilities. The Begich Towers also has a post office, a grocery store, the police department, the mayor’s office, a small Methodist church, a laundromat, and a hotel on the 13th and 14th floors. It also contains a small medical clinic and a tunnel that connects the building to the school.

This has earned Whittier the nickname of a “town under one roof”.

The Begich Towers is also a popular tourist destination in Anchorage because it offers a unique experience unlike any other. Visitors can explore the history and culture of the native Aleut people and get a taste of traditional Alaskan life. The Begich Towers is also a great place to take in the breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains and the surrounding cityscape. The Begich Towers is a great way to explore and experience the beauty and culture of Alaska.

What’s Unique About Living in Whittier, AK?

Living in Whittier, Alaska, is a unique experience due to the town’s isolation and the fact that most residents live in the Begich Towers, a 14-story building that serves as the main residence for the town’s population.

Some of the unique features of living in Whittier include:

  1. Limited access: The town is only accessible by a single-lane, 2.5-mile long train tunnel that connects it to the outside world. This means that residents must plan ahead when they need to travel or purchase goods and services that are not available in the town.
  2. Strong sense of community: The Begich Towers serves as the center of community life, and residents often rely on each other for support and assistance. Living in such close proximity to one another creates a sense of interdependence and shared responsibility.
  3. Spectacular scenery: Whittier is located on the coast of the Prince William Sound, with beautiful views of the mountains and the ocean. The town is surrounded by glaciers, fjords, and wildlife, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and skiing.
  4. Unique Architecture: The Begich Towers is a unique building, being the only one in town, and it serves as the main residence for the town’s population, it also has a school, grocery store, post office and other services, which makes it an interesting example of how architecture and design can shape the way a community functions and interacts.
  5. Cold climate: Whittier is located in Alaska and has a cold climate all year long, which means residents need to be prepared for snow and freezing temperatures.

All of these factors together make living in Whittier a unique and challenging, but also a rewarding experience for those who choose to call it home.

What’s Peculiar About Living in Whittier, AK?

To start, many people are surprised to learn that the town of Whittier, Alaska, has an off-season population of around 200+ people and the population grows to 800-1000 during the summer. What’s even more surprising is that 80-90% of those people live in one building. Residents have to make some unusual adaptations because nearly everyone in town is an elevator ride away.

The community is tight-knit and everyone knows each other. There are a lot of activities to keep people busy, and the scenery is beautiful. Whittier also has one of the best fishing spots in Alaska. The location is convenient for those that want to travel to Anchorage, Seward or Homer.

Whittier is a great place for people that like the outdoors and want to get away from it all. It’s not for everyone, though. Some people are too squeamish for life in Whittier. They can’t handle the close quarters or the lack of privacy. Some people go stir crazy and end up moving away.

Overall, the living conditions in Begich Towers are a complex and multifaceted issue that requires ongoing attention and support from local authorities and housing organizations. Despite the challenges faced by the residents, they have shown remarkable resilience and resourcefulness in adapting to the conditions and building a strong, supportive community. It is important that ongoing efforts are made to address the needs of the residents of Begich Towers and ensure that they have access to safe, affordable, and well-maintained housing.

waiting to go into the Whittier AK tunnel by dane brian is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.
Waiting to go into the Whittier AK tunnel by dane brian is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

The only way in and the only way out

The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, also known as the Whittier Tunnel, is a highway tunnel that connects the city of Whittier, Alaska to the Seward Highway and the rest of the state. It is the longest road tunnel in North America and one of the longest in the world, with a length of 2.5 miles (4.03 km).

The tunnel was built during World War II as a means of accessing the port of Whittier, which was considered a strategic location at the time. It is a one lane tunnel with a schedule for vehicles to pass through it, allowing for safe travel for both directions. The tunnel is open year-round, but it is closed for maintenance on certain days and times, so it is important to check the schedule before planning a trip.

The only store in town

There is only one grocery store in the city of Whittier, Alaska. This can be a challenge for residents, as they may have limited options for shopping and accessing fresh food and other essentials. The limited availability of shopping options and the isolated location of Whittier can make it more difficult for residents to access essential services and necessities, which can contribute to the challenges faced by the residents of Begich Towers. However, the community has adapted to these challenges and continues to thrive, with residents coming together to support one another and address the needs of the community.

How safe is the Begich Towers?

The safety of Begich Towers has been a concern for many years. The complex has faced challenges such as high crime rates, vandalism, and drug use. In recent years, local authorities and housing organizations have taken steps to improve the safety of the complex, including increased police patrols, the installation of security cameras, and community-building programs. However, the overall safety of the complex remains a concern for many residents, and there have been calls for continued efforts to address the ongoing challenges faced by the complex and its residents.

It is important to note that the safety of Begich Towers is not just a matter of physical safety, but also encompasses the safety and well-being of its residents. This includes addressing issues such as inadequate maintenance, aging infrastructure, and the lack of access to essential services, which can impact the overall quality of life for residents.

The safety of Begich Towers is a complex issue that requires ongoing attention and support from local authorities and housing organizations. Despite the efforts to improve the safety of the complex, much work remains to be done to address the ongoing challenges faced by the residents of Begich Towers.

Whittier Harbor by Travis S. is licensed under CC BY NC 2.0.
Whittier Harbor by Travis S. is licensed under CC BY NC 2.0.

What Is the History of Begich Towers?

Whittier, Alaska, is a small town located on the coast of the Prince William Sound, about 60 miles southeast of Anchorage. The town has a rich history that is closely tied to the region’s natural resources and the various industries that have developed around them.

The Chugach people, an indigenous group, have lived in the area for thousands of years. The town was originally settled by non-Native residents in the early 1900s, who were attracted to the area’s abundant fish and game.

During World War II, the U.S. military built a base in Whittier as part of the effort to protect the Alaska Territory from possible invasion by Japan. The town experienced a population boom as a result of the base, and a large number of military personnel and their families were stationed there.

After the war, the military base was closed, and the population of Whittier declined. The Begich Towers, a 14-story building, was built to provide housing for the employees of the base and for the remaining residents of the town. The town remained isolated for many years, with the only land access being the single-lane, 2.5-mile long train tunnel that connects it to the outside world.

Nowadays, Whittier is still a small town but has grown a little and it attracts many tourists, thanks to its spectacular scenery and outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and skiing. The town is also home to a small but active fishing industry, and it continues to be an important stopover point for cruise ships and other vessels traveling through the Prince William Sound.

What Are the Living Conditions in Begich Towers?

1. The Begich Towers are a condominium complex in Whitter, Alaska

The living conditions in Begich Towers vary depending on the unit. However, overall, the complex has faced challenges such as aging infrastructure, inadequate maintenance, and limited access to essential services. Despite these challenges, residents have come together to support one another and address the needs of the community.

The basic units in Begich Towers offer modest living spaces and may lack some modern amenities. On the other hand, the luxury units typically feature high-end finishes and amenities, such as updated kitchens and bathrooms, large windows with panoramic views, and private balconies.

Additionally, the location of Begich Towers in the isolated city of Whittier, Alaska can make it more difficult for residents to access essential services and necessities. This can contribute to the challenges faced by the residents of Begich Towers.

The living conditions in Begich Towers are diverse, with a range of options for residents. Despite the challenges faced by the complex, the residents have come together to support one another and create a strong, resilient community.

2. The condos in the Begich Towers range from basic to luxury units

The condos in Begich Towers offer a range of living options for residents, from basic units to luxury condos. This variety of options allows residents to choose the type of accommodation that best meets their needs and budget. The luxury units typically feature high-end finishes and amenities, such as updated kitchens and bathrooms, large windows with panoramic views, and private balconies. Basic units, on the other hand, offer more modest living spaces and fewer amenities. Despite the differences in living conditions, the residents of Begich Towers come together as a community to support one another and address the needs of the complex.

Whittier Glacier Tour Prince William Sound Alaska 006r.jpg by tomspixels is licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0.
Whittier Glacier Tour Prince William Sound Alaska 006r.jpg by tomspixels is licensed under CC BY NC ND 2.0.

3. The complex has amenities such as an exercise room, a swimming pool and a convenience store.

Begich Towers is equipped with several amenities to make life easier and more comfortable for its residents. The exercise room allows residents to stay active and maintain their physical fitness, while the swimming pool provides a fun and refreshing place to cool off during the warm summer months. Additionally, the convenience store located in the complex provides residents with easy access to everyday necessities and groceries, saving them the time and effort of traveling to another location to buy supplies. These amenities, along with the tight-knit community and strong sense of togetherness among residents, help to make Begich Towers a desirable place to live.

4. The complex has a townhouse-style layout with multiple floors

Begich Towers has a townhouse-style layout with multiple floors, allowing residents to live in individual units within the larger complex. This design allows for a sense of privacy and independence within a larger community setting. The multi-story design also provides residents with the opportunity to choose from a range of living spaces, from basic units to luxury condos, depending on their needs and budget. Additionally, the multiple floors and elevators in the complex help to make it easier for residents to access their units, especially for those who may have difficulty with stairs. Overall, the townhouse-style layout of Begich Towers helps to create a unique and diverse community within the complex.

5. The complex has views of the city and is a short walk from public transportation

The close proximity of Begich Towers to public transportation makes it easy for residents to access the rest of the city without the need for a personal vehicle. This can be a major advantage for residents, as it can reduce their transportation costs, as well as their carbon footprint. Additionally, it allows residents to take advantage of all the city has to offer, from shopping, dining, and entertainment to cultural attractions and other activities. The easy access to public transportation also makes it more convenient for residents to travel to other locations, both within the city and beyond. Overall, the close proximity of Begich Towers to public transportation helps to make it a convenient and attractive place to live.

Quartz Creek Campground Cooper Landing AK by dane brian is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.
Quartz Creek Campground Cooper Landing AK by dane brian is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0.

7. The Begich Towers have a unique design and are a prominent feature of the city

The Begich Towers have a unique design that sets them apart from other buildings in the city, and they are indeed a prominent feature of the cityscape. The complex’s townhouse-style layout, with its multiple floors and elevators, is a distinctive feature that makes it stand out from other housing options. The stunning views offered by the large windows in the units, as well as the amenities such as the exercise room, swimming pool, and convenience store, contribute to the complex’s prominence in the city. Overall, the Begich Towers are a recognizable and important part of the city’s landscape and are considered by many to be a desirable place to live.

Final Thoughts

The Begich Towers, also known as the Whittier Towers, are two 14-story apartment buildings located in the town of Whittier, Alaska. They were built in the 1960s as part of a government-funded program to provide housing for residents of the town. The buildings are unique in that they are the only multi-story buildings in the town and the majority of the residents of Whittier live in these two buildings. The Begich Towers provide a unique example of a “vertical village” where a small community is housed in a single building, it’s an interesting housing example of how a small town can be designed and it may be a solution for other remote or small towns facing a housing crisis.

Happy Trails,

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