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Everyone in This Alaska Town Lives Under the Same Roof

Everyone in This Alaska Town Lives Under the Same Roof

Everyone in This Alaska Town Lives Under the Same Roof

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Alaska is a non-contiguous U.S. state with many remote communities. Due to its adverse weather conditions, many of these communities are isolated. 

However, Whittier may be the most remote community in the state of all the isolated communities. This is because all its residents live under the same roof!

Whittier, Alaska, a One of a Kind Town

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It may sound impossible for all the remote community members to live together. However, this is the reality of the people living in Whittier, Alaska. 

Its members live closely in two buildings about 58 miles southeast of Anchorage. The area’s extreme weather conditions make it perfect and functional for its residents during the year’s coldest months.

The Intriguing History of Whittier, Alaska

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The history of Whittier dates back to the 1940s and 1950s. Then, military members built two main buildings where their secret military base could live. Therefore, the two buildings became home to thousands of military members and their families. 

When the military left, it became the home to regular residents who moved in. The 14-story Begich Towers now house the majority of its population.

A Small Town Where Everyone Lives Together

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Begich Towers has 197 apartments. The early builders made the towers brilliantly so that they could house many people at once. The apartments are mostly two- and three-bedroom units, but there are a couple of one-bedroom units available as well. 

The majority of Whittier’s residents live in Begich Towers. However, the others live in the second building, the more expensive Whittier Manor.

All the Town Necessities Are in One Building

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One of the most amazing attributes of this small town is that it houses all its necessities in a building. This is undoubtedly very useful for a town in Alaska with adverse weather conditions. 

You can find everything from shops to medical clinics in this building without needing to go out. Begich Towers also has a post office, laundromat, church, grocery store, theater, and even the town’s mayor’s office.

The Tunnel Under Whittier

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Many people often wonder how the residents of Whittier move around. As they mostly stay indoors throughout the year, they had to figure out a way to travel around town in extreme conditions. 

Therefore, there are tunnels under the buildings. This tunnel connects the buildings to several places, including the Whittier School. As a result, the extreme cold does not prevent the kids from attending school in this town.

The Tunnel's Timetable

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As the tunnel is the primary source of passage for the residents, they had to make a practical timetable. Whittier residents can only cross the tunnel once an hour in either direction — the tunnels also close at 10:30 p.m. 

Therefore, those who do not return home in time before closing cannot get in and mostly sleep in their cars until morning.

The Building's Timetable

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The building also has a timetable as many people live here. Moreover, commuting through Begich Towers can be very time-consuming. Different people are moving around, and it would be complete chaos without a timetable for movement. 

Therefore, the elevator has a rush hour timetable that sees it stop on every single floor during one journey. This helps residents plan their movement to maximize time.

Schooling in Whittier, Alaska

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Schooling in Whittier is quite different from the average American experience. Here, the children travel through a tunnel to go to school. 

Furthermore, they live under the same roof with their teachers. More often than not, the teachers see their students all the time. However, it doesn’t pose any significant problem as they all live harmoniously together.

What Problems Do Residents Face in Whittier?

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Without a doubt, living under the same roof with hundreds of people comes with disadvantages. However, the people of Whittier have had more good times than bad. In 2007, a 27-year-old man was charged with killing his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter.

It was also a massive task to prevent the population from contracting the COVID-19 virus. However, only six residents fell ill, so they were pretty successful.

What Do Whittier Residents Hate About Begich Towers?

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The community is not perfect, and there are some things some people do not like about it. The biggest complaint is the outdated design of the towers. 

Since they built the towers in 1954, the apartments have a lot of old-fashioned features. These include metal wardrobes and other vintage functions. Therefore, their amenities are mostly outdated, and they would like an upgrade.

All Generations Under One Roof

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Like any other community, Whittier has many generations living under one roof. Older, middle-aged, and little kids live in its many apartments. 

While some believe Begich Towers should be a retirement community, others strongly oppose it. They believe the community thrives best when all the generations live together.

Whittier, Alaska, the One Big Family Unit

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As expected, most of the Alaska community residents know each other well. Like a typical big family unit, everyone is in everyone else’s business. 

Also, they have their own issues sometimes. However, they all sort through their issues as well as they can. The residents work in several parts of the state, including tourism, recreation, and fishing.