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If you’re from Whittier, you probably live in this building

Whittier is a small town in Alaska that is famous because all of its 272 residents (2020) live in one building.


Whittier is an unusual town in a stunning natural setting. It is set on the shores of Prince William Sound, and nearly the entire year-round population lives in a single building called the Begich Towers, known as “city under one roof”. Whittier was built to provide a safe port for access to central Alaska during World War II, with a tunnel to allow access to the other side of the Chugach Mountains.

Get in[edit]

The only road access to Whittier is via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel through a mountain. The tunnel was built for rail use only. It is now a one-way-at-a-time tunnel that is shared by the railroad and road traffic. It is considered to be the longest road tunnel in North America. Coming from Anchorage, you go south on the Seward Highway and turn onto Portage Glacier Road, and the tunnel is at the other end. There is a fee, and you will must wait until the tunnel is open for traffic moving in your direction, so plan ahead if you are connecting with a boat on the other side. The tunnel is closed to vehicular traffic at night depending on the seasons. Motorcycling through the tunnel requires extra cautions, and non-motorized traffic is banned. It is 60 mi (97 km) to Anchorage and 90 mi (140 km) to Seward from the other side of the tunnel (outside of town).

Whittier has docking facilities for 1 cruise ships and the 2 Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System. It is possible to go straight from the docks to the 3 Alaska Railroad Depot for the train to Seward or Anchorage as it is across the road from the cruise terminal.

There is a small airport with a single gravel runway, but there are no scheduled flights.

Get around[edit]

Whittier is quite small: basically the whole town is within walking distance of the tunnel and the docks. Most of the populace live and work within the 1 Begich Towers. (100 Kenai St) and the few blocks surrounding the Begich Towers. The tower contains a convenience/grocery store, Laundormat, indoor playground, City Hall, police station, a conference center, a Baptist church (in basement), Post Office and B&B units on the 14th & 15th floors (see also under 'Sleep' in below). A new school building was built behind the tower and is connected to the tower's basement by a tunnel that students use to walk to and from school during the winter months.


Whittier exists to create a link between southcentral Alaska and Prince William Sound. There isn’t much to see in the town, but there are ample opportunities to venture out on the water and see the Sound. Whittier is known for poor weather (it's the wettest city in the United States), so come prepared for wind and rain. The following are a couple of places to see in town:

  • 1 Buckner Building. The Buckner Building is an abandoned building that served as the military barracks (the 'predecessor' of the present Begich Towers) to include mess hall, sleeping quarters, movie theater, bowling alley, small jail, and tunnels connecting the town of Whittier. After 1966 when the military left and gave up the building it went through different owners and was neglected. In 2016 a structural assessment determined that the building cannot be safely and economically rehabilitated for occupancy and with asbestos present throughout the building it cannot be safely torn down either. There is a fence around the building, and it can been seen from outside. The Buckner Building is thus a ghost town within a functioning town. Buckner Building (Q19460723) on Wikidata Buckner Building on Wikipedia
  • 2 Prince William Sound Museum, 743 Whittier St (in Anchor Inn Restaurant building). Daily 9AM-7PM. The exhibits tell the story of Whittier's history as a military port and rail terminal, and reflects on Alaskan military heritage during World War II and the Cold War. $5 admission.


Alaska Railroad train passing Whittier harbor

You'll find numerous charter fishing and sightseeing operations for hire at the docks. Both sides of the tunnel are within Chugach National Forest, the Portage Valley has a visitor center, a system of hiking trails, and boat tours on Portage Lake that go to Portage Glacier.





  • 1 Anchor Inn Hotel, 957 Whittier, +1 907 472-2354. The Anchor Inn is in the heart of Whittier, in the center of the residential and commercial areas not in the Begich Towers. The Inn is affiliated with the restaurant next door.
  • June's Whittier Condo Suites, Begich Towers @ 100 Kenai St, #1506, +1 907 472-6001. June has several units on the 14th and 15th floors of the Begich Tower for rent to travelers. This is where guests can experience local life living under the same roof with the whole town.
  • 2 Whittier Parking & Camping (across the railroad tracks along Whittier Street), +1 907 472-2670. Provides daily and up to 6-month (overflow) parking for people staying in their cars, trailers, boats on a trailer, or RVs for one night or up to 6 months. They also have a primitive supervised campground in the trees beyond. The facilities are usually open from late April to mid-October at when there is no standing ice or snow. Open season varies between the last snow melt and first snow fall in each year.


By mail[edit]

  • Whittier AK Post Office (US Postal Service), 9693 Kenai St (first floor of Begich Towers, across the hall from the Kozy Korner Convenience Store), +1 907 472-2437. M-F 9:30AM-3:45PM. Serving zip code 99693. Most people living in town have a PO box to receive mail. Ask for their PO box number before sending something to them.

Go next[edit]

At the end of Portage Glacier Road heading out of town, turn right to get to Anchorage, left to get to Soldotna, Homer, and Seward.

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