Anchorage (ăngˈkərĭj) [key], city (1990 pop. 226,338), Anchorage census div., S central Alaska, a port at the head of Cook Inlet; inc. 1920. It is the largest city in the state, the administrative and commercial heart of S central and W Alaska, one of the nation's key defense centers, and a vital transportation hub. Glenn Highway connects the city to the Alaska Highway and the Parks Highway. The international airport is a regular stop on intercontinental and transpolar flights. The city includes two U.S. military bases, Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base. Anchorage is also the headquarters for the major oil and gas companies in Alaska. With oil discoveries in Cook Inlet in the late 1950s, and the discovery of massive petroleum and natural gas reserves in the Prudhoe Bay region in 1968, the population has more than quadrupled. Tourism has also increased dramatically, largely due to improvements in transportation and the creation of numerous national parks. Anchorage was founded (1915) as construction headquarters for the Alaska RR and grew as a railroad town. It also became a fishing center, a market and supply point for gold-mining regions to the north, and the metropolis for the coal mining and farming of the Matanuska valley. World War II brought the establishment of the large military bases and the enormous growth of air and rail traffic. The city suffered severe damage in the 1964 earthquake. Points of interest include Earthquake Park and several notable museums. The annual Iditarod Race (see under Iditarod) starts from Anchorage, and a "Fur Rendezvous" winter carnival is held in the city every year. The city is the seat of Alaska Pacific Univ. and a campus of the Univ. of Alaska. Portage Glacier and Lake Hood are nearby, and Mt. McKinley (Denali) is visible from the city.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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