2nd Class City
in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (wit' ee er)
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Election, Recording, and Judicial Districts
- Senate District
- House District
- Judicial District
- Recording District
Facilities and Amenities
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Piped Sewar, Harbor/Port, Police, Volunteer Fire/EMS, Fire Hall
Geography and Climate
- Whittier is on the northeast shore of the Kenai Peninsula, at the head of Passage Canal. It is on the west side of Prince William Sound, 60 miles southeast of Anchorage.
- Community Map Available
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
- Winter temperatures range from 17 to 28 °F; summer temperatures average 49 to 63 °F. Average annual precipitation includes 197 inches of rain and 241 inches of snowfall.
History and Culture
- Passage Canal was once the quickest route from Prince William Sound to Cook Inlet. Chugach Indians would portage to Turnagain Arm in search of fish. Nearby Whittier Glacier was named for the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier; the name was first published in 1915 by the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. A port and a railroad terminus were constructed by the U.S. Army for transporting fuel and other supplies into Alaska during World War II. The railroad spur and two tunnels were completed in 1943, and the Whittier Port became the entrance for troops and dependents of the Alaska Command. The huge buildings that dominate Whittier began construction in 1948. The 14-story Hodge Building (now Begich Towers) was built with 198 apartments for army bachelor quarters and family housing. The Buckner Building, completed in 1953, had 1,000 apartments and was once the largest building in Alaska. It was called the "city under one roof," with a hospital, bowling alley, theater, gym, swimming pool, and shops for Army personnel. Whittier Manor was built in the early 1950s by private developers as rental units for civilian employees. The port remained an active army facility until 1960; at that time, the population was 1,200. Whittier Manor was converted to condominiums in 1964; Begich Towers now houses the majority of residents, as the Buckner Building is no longer occupied. The city was incorporated in 1969.
- Residents enjoy sport-fishing, commercial fishing, and subsistence activities.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Incorporation Type
- 2nd Class City
- Public Education
- Not permitted to provide this service.
- Planning, Platting and Land Use Regulation
- Not required to exercise the powers in any circumstance, but may be permitted in all cases in the manner described for first class cities.
- Property Tax Powers
- May tax up to 20 mills, except where a higher levy is required to avoid default. Voter approval required.
- Sales Tax Powers
- No limit on the rate of levy of sales taxes; however, voter approval is required.
- Other Powers Not Prohibited
- May exercise other powers not prohibited by law.
- City Council or Assembly Composition and Apportionment
- 7 members elected at-large, except the council may provide for election other than at-large.
- Election and Term of Mayor
- Elected from the city council for a 1-year term, unless a longer term is provided by ordinance. Mayor selected by council (or by voters upon adoption of ordinance).
- Vote by Mayor
- Votes on all matters.
- Veto Power of the Mayor
- Does not have veto power.
- Power of Eminent Domain
- Permitted, but requires voter approval.
- Ability to Attain Home-Rule Status
- May not adopt home-rule charter without first reclassifying to a first-class city.
- Whittier has an ice-free port and two city docks (70' cargo dock and 60' floating passenger dock). A small boat harbor has slips for 360 fishing, recreation, and charter vessels. It is served by road, rail, the state ferry, boat, and aircraft. Since 2000, a tunnel has provided a road connection. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was reconstructed to accommodate both rail and road vehicles. The railway carries passengers, vehicles, and cargo 12 miles from the Portage Station east of Girdwood. The state-owned gravel airstrip accommodates charter aircraft, and a city-owned seaplane dock is available for passenger transfer.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection