Whittier, AK

The Town in Alaska Where All the Residents Live in One Building

Diana Rus

Begich TowersPhoto byBegich Towers/ Wikipedia

Whittier is a city in Alaska, about 58 miles southeast of Anchorage, at the head of the Passage Canal. The city is located in the Chugach Census Area, one of the two areas created in 2019 with the breakup of the Valdez-Cordova Census Area.

According to the 2020 census, the population was 272, practically all of whom live in a single building, the Begich Towers. The Alaska Marine Highway also has a port at Whittier.

The Begich Towers Condominium is a structure located in Whittier, Alaska.

The building is famous for functioning like a miniature arcology, housing almost all of the city's residents, and housing many of its public amenities. Whittier has the nickname "town under one roof" as a result of this.

Begich TowersPhoto byBegich Towers/ Wikipedia

The area that is now Whittier was established during World War II as a military harbor and supply station for the US Army. The military intended to build a large complex nearby after the war. That concept included what are today known as the Begich Towers.

Anton Anderson created the structure in 1953 with the intention of housing the US Army Corps of Engineers headquarters. The Hodge Building was named after Colonel William Walter Hodge, commander of the 93rd Engineer Regiment on the Alcan Highway. The Hodge Building was part of a larger project that included the construction of ten other similar military buildings.

The Hodge Building was built first, followed by the Buckner Building 660 yards to the northeast, both of which opened in 1957. Despite the grandiose plan, these were the only two buildings constructed, and they were utilized by the US Army until the early 1960s; the Buckner Building has been vacant since 1966.

Whittier CityPhoto byWhittier, Alaska/ Wikipedia

The region was affected by a tsunami caused by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964, but the damage was not severe. The Hodge Building was converted into a public structure with many units, including the administrative centers of the principal institutions and Whittier's commercial services.

In 1972, The structure was renamed Begich Towers Condominium in honor of Nick Begich, an Alaskan congressman who vanished nearby and is thought to have perished in an aircraft crash.

The Begich Towers Condominium Association of Apartment Owners Inc. took management of the entire building in 1974.

Begich TowersPhoto byWhittier, Alaska/ Wikipedia

The Begich Towers

Residents can stay inside the building for extended periods if bad weather occurs or they do not want to leave because the majority of the community and its services are either within the structure or connected to it.

The structure, which was completed in 1957, has a rectangular layout with a flat roof. It has three connected modules that make up its fourteen floors. Two projecting modules that form two square towers may be seen on the north side. Residents have access to any area of the complex inside thanks to systems of branched corridors and elevators. A tunnel links the school to the towers.

Aside from the residential parts, the building provides basic facilities for condo owners and guests, including a post office, a general store, and a laundromat. At the school, there is also a small Baptist chapel, two floors of bed and breakfast rentals, a conference space, and an indoor playground.


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