220 Citizens Live and Work in One Building In Alaska

220 Citizens Live and Work in One Building In Alaska


Imagine that you don’t have to spend hours
in traffic jams on your way to the office. No need to be squeezed in a crowd of commuters
at rush hour. To get to the supermarket, you don’t even
have to go out. Just press a button in the elevator or walk
down the stairs if you’re in an athletic mood. Sound like a miracle? In fact, there’s a town in Alaska whose
citizens have everything they need under one roof. It’s Whittier, maybe the strangest town
you’ve ever seen. Whittier is situated on the coast of Prince
William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. It was named after the glacier nearby; and
the glacier, in turn, got its name thanks to 19th century American poet John Greenleaf
Whittier. Was he “wittier” than the other poets? I digress. All of Whittier’s 220 citizens live in one
building; a tower of condominiums. No mistake. Well, actually there’s one guy, Paul, who
thinks he’s special and lives in a camper nearby. Citizens don’t only live in the same building,
but go to work, school, and do their shopping by just pressing different buttons in the
elevator. The 14-story building is called Begich towers,
and it has pretty much everything you need in life: a police station, 2 supermarkets,
town offices, a covered playground, laundry, post office, and a clinic. They even have a church down in the basement. Residents of Begich towers can stay there
for weeks running and not go outside. Whittier is isolated from the rest of the
world, and lives mostly off natural resources. Fishing is the main activity of the locals,
and one of their main income generators. There’s no public transportation in the
town, and more boats than cars. Still, it’s not easy to live here. Although the climate is more moderate here
than deeper in Alaska, thanks to the ocean, winters are very snowy, and summers are rainy. You’re pretty lucky if you happen to be
in Whittier on a nice day, without any moisture. Apart from that, because of the high surrounding
mountains, there’s no sun here from November to February. The locals have a joke that they can always
go to Anchorage if they miss the sun. Whittier is cut out by huge mountains and
a lake, and there’s only one way to and from the town. The road is a one-way tunnel through the mountain,
that changes its direction every 15 minutes and is closed at night. It’s not so bad though: the criminal activity
here is very low just because it’s really difficult to run away from Whittier. The place is just different. For one thing, it’s isolated; and the population
density is low here. You might think that it’s a paradise for
introverts, where you can get lost forever. But you’ll hardly find a more interactive
and social town than Whittier. It’s the only place in the world where you
literally live above or under the population of a whole town. You’d better be on friendly terms with your
neighbors – they’ll probably never change! Citizens can walk around the many corridors
of the building in pajamas and feel comfy among their neighbors. In the months when there are no visitors,
and local shops close their doors, there’s a special feeling of coziness. Anyone can knock on the policeman’s door
at any time. If students are struggling with their homework,
they just knock on their teacher’s door – no pro; he lives in the same building
and they can do their homework in his kitchen. There’s a good reason for having everything
you need under one roof. During the winter months, Whittier is covered
with a 20 ft (6 meter) layer of snow. If you’re still sure you need to go out,
the wind, which blows at a speed 60 miles per hour (96 km per hour), on average, won’t
let you get too far. The wind is so strong, it even keeps the bears
away; and there are lots of them here. That’s also why the playground is inside. You know the quote “Winter is coming”,
right? Well, if you’ve ever seen “Game of thrones”,
I’m sure you do. George Martin probably borrowed it from Whittier,
since there’s no kidding around about winter here. The whole population of Whittier prepares
for it. All the citizens, including students, work
in the covered garden to get ready for the harsh season. Vegetables are grown using special equipment,
resulting in faster growth. Summer is too short to grow veggies here,
even if you use a greenhouse. You wonder what made these people come to
this town in the first place? Well, they didn’t choose to live here. They basically found themselves Whittier citizens
because of the circumstances. The town was founded in 1943, and the location
was chosen not for its magnificent beauty, but for the natural isolation. The town was built as a defense facility for
the US military. They wanted to build an army base in a solitary
place surrounded by mountains. So, Whittier was an ideal place for that. Apart from the fact that the bay doesn’t
freeze in winter, it’s also suitable for big cargo vessels and military ships. At that time, the only way to get there was
by sea. That’s why the military hacked a 2-mile
(3 km) tunnel through the mountain to connect the town with civilization by land. Several standard houses were built for the
staff working in the harbor there, with very simple architecture. Buckner Building was constructed for Engineer
Troops. Not far from it, a 14-story barracks was built
for soldiers called the Hodge Building, the tallest in Alaska. Later it was renamed Begich Towers, after
a congressman from Alaska, Nick Begich, who had gone missing after his plane went down. The Tower was built based on the design of
engineer Anton Anderson. The army changed its plans after March 27,
1964, when the Great Alaskan earthquake, also known as the Good Friday Earthquake, occurred. It was the strongest earthquake in US history,
and the second strongest in the history of the world, with a magnitude of 9.2. This is equivalent to the explosion of 1200
atomic bombs! As a result of the earthquake, which lasted
for almost 5 minutes, a huge tsunami wave demolished the coastal Alaskan towns – Valdez,
Seward, Kodiak and Whittier. Valdez was rebuilt in a different place on
more solid ground. As for Whittier: the harbor, the petroleum
base, and the railroad were destroyed. Both Buckner Building and Begich Towers were
seriously damaged. After that, the military forces left Whittier,
but the people who’d worked in the harbor and other facilities, stayed. In 1969, Whittier was passed to the citizens
and officially became a town. People who live there now are descendants
of soldiers and workers who lived there at the time of its building. Buckner Building was neglected and still isn’t
used. They decided not to pull it down because of
the amount of asbestos in the construction materials. The dust, which would have appeared after
the building destruction, would pose serious health threats. So they just left it like that. Begich Towers was reconstructed to become
the hub of life that it is today. Some Whittier citizens go to work in Anchorage,
which is 65 miles (105 km) away. A two-way trip through the tunnel isn’t
cheap – $15, and they must buy an annual pass for $500. Many citizens work in the harbor, where several
tourist ocean liners come during summer months. Like most coastal Alaskan towns, Whittier
is much more crowded in the summer. The place where Whittier is located is beautiful. It’s surrounded by mountains covered with
dense forests, waterfalls and glaciers. Tourists come here to experience the beautiful
nature and have a sea adventure. It’s a starting point for cruises, where
one can see icebergs and whales, sea lions, seals, sea and land otters, sea birds, glacier
bears, Sitka black tail deer, and mountain goats. There’s also deep-sea fishing for those
who like that. Me? I just get sea sick and throw up a lot. Whittier also has a couple of restaurants
especially for tourists: a Chinese buffet and even a motel booked for months ahead. There are 200 apartments in the Begich Towers,
and half of them are empty now. Some people own an apartment, but live in
a different place, like Anchorage. It’s one thing to visit for a weekend, and
quite another to live here all the time. Real estate in Whittier isn’t in great demand,
and the population is shrinking a little each year. So if you’re thinking about visiting Whittier,
you’d better do it soon, before all the citizens leave Begich tower forever. Now it’s your turn. Do you think Whittier is a comfortable place
to live, or is it just weird? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then give
this video a like and share it with a friend. But – hey! – don’t go chasing the polar
bears just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to
check out. All you have to do is pick the left or right
video, click on it, and enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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    Real English

    I haven't seen "Game of Thrones", sorry, I have way better things to do, like learning new things from Bright Side…

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    Krystal

    It’s a really cool place to visit once in a while, check out the scenery and grab a bite to eat, then leave. I only ever go when relatives wanna check out unique places in Alaska.

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    luv3daysgrace1

    Would you want to live there Bright Side? I would visit but don’t think that I could live there. It looks beautiful. Great video.

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    atinis

    They should have called it as their own country chose their own president, with their different flag and rules! 😇

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    Gerald Nordahl

    I would live there because I am wanted be the area 51 FBI. I am a alien and Elvis Presley is still alive.

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    jitendra singh

    You could extend this idea to a whole city, with some modifications. It would solve many problems that we face in cities around the world. The idea is not as crazy as it sounds! It does need you to be a little more open minded.

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    Michael B.

    When I read the title I thought it was going to be a mini documentary about some town in China. Super surprised it was Alaska.

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    Idrees Khan

    There is also a very unique community in chitral, Pakistan. Believed to be the descendants of Alexander the great army known as Kailash.

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    Think again

    In this country a place doesn't get the status of even a village for that population. And you call it a city.

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    Ginal Diengdoh

    It is kind of weird to me because all in one place is like living in isolated without knowing the outsiders world

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    Pro Star Maintenance/ Mad Dog

    I like the video but would have rather seen more pictures and videos of the actual Whittier town rather than a bunch of cartoon animation.

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    Juli Jerome

    Whittier in Alaska,USA and Coober Pedy,Australia those people got it made everything you want right where you live but you could get bored too being in the same place all the time. Interesting video.

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    nadia khan

    This seems to be end of the world idea .not today's world idea no one wants to live like this .but for them may be it good cause there is to much snow

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    RJ CANARÉ

    this is much better than a city that full of noise and pollution and bad people only weird people choose live into the other places this is much better

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