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Land-Use Patterns

Anchorage is unique in the fact that although the municipality is nearly 1700 square miles in area only 10% of that land is inhabited by a civilian population with the rest being made up of state forests or parks and military installations.  Of this small civilian area, the Anchorage Bowl makes up 62% with the Eagle River and Turnagain Arm regions comprising 32% and 6% respectively.  When discussing Anchorage, the Anchorage Bowl is usually what's being referred to.  Despite composing almost a third of the land area, the Eagle River regions have a low population density and are mainly made up of wealthy residents as indicated by several parameters including income, home value, low proportion of minorities and single parent households, and high proportions of home ownership.  Similarly, the Turnagain Arm regions are primarily a vacation area and don't have a high proportion of permanent residences or industry besides tourism ("Anchorage Indicators Neighborhood Sourcebook: General Demographic Indicators."). 

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Military and National Parks

The military in Anchorage has been a longstanding presence since World War II.  To the northeast, Elmendorf Air Force Base (of which the Kulis Air National Guard Base is a part of) and Fort Richardson Army Post act as military hubs and training facilities.  Nearly 10 percent of Anchorage's population is comprised of military personnel and family members ("Anchorage: Economy.").  When considered as a single entity and including civilian employees, the military is easily the largest employer in Anchorage (Fried, Neal and Windishc-Cole, Brigitta).

 To the immediate East of the Anchorage Bowl is the Chugach State Park, which is the third largest state park in America.  At approximately a half-million acres it makes up roughly 40% of the municipality of Anchorage.  Further east is the Chugach National Forest, which is the second largest forest in the National Forest System.  At nearly 5.6 million acres (one-third of which is composed of rocks and moving ice) it is roughly the same size as Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined.  However, only a fraction (roughly half a million acres) is located in the municipality of Anchorage.  Together, these reserves account for 80% of the total land area of Anchorage and factor heavily into the cities tourism industry (Anchorage Indicators Neighborhood Sourcebook: General Demographic Indicators.". "Division of Park and Outdoor Recreation").

The Residents of Anchorage

The vast majority of residents reside in the northern part of the Anchorage Bowl, with 48% of the population above International Airport Road and the Campbell Park/ Basher district and 35% in the southern part.  In the outlying areas, 11.5% and .8% reside in the Eagle River and Turnagain Arm regions respectively.  While there is not much division between the northern and southern areas in aspects other than residential and commercial density, there are several key demographic differences between the eastern and western regions.  Overall, the Eastern region is much wealthier than the Western region by several indicators (highest rents/ mortgages, greatest proportion of home ownership, few minorities, few immigrants, high proportions of baby boomers).  The wealthiest residents live in Hillside and Turnagain Arm regions.  The poorest residents as well as minorities and immigrants tend to reside in Spenard and Turnagain County.  Spenard and Turnagain Counties also happen to be the areas closes to Ted Steven's International Airport, which is consistent with a trend in many American cities of poor residents living close to airports ("Anchorage Indicators Neighborhood Sourcebook: Anchorage Community Council Demographics").

Anchorage boasts one of the highest percentages of residents with postsecondary degrees in the country.  Home to two fully accredited universities: the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), which enrolls more than 17,000 students, and Alaska Pacific University, a private institution affiliated with the United Methodist church with about 700 enrolled students.  Both institutions offer undergraduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines and master's degrees in such fields related to Anchorage's economic climate, such as biological sciences, business and management, logistics, and engineering.  Also located in the Anchorage area are several vocational, specialty, and technical schools.  All the colleges and universities are concentrated in the University area and Scenic foothills areas ("Anchorage: Education and Research.").


The four major sectors that drive Anchorage's local economy are oil and gas, the military, transportation, and the convention and tourism industry.  The oil and gas central offices are located in the commercial band along the Seaward Highway.  The military presence is centered around the two bases to the northeast of the Anchorage Bowl.  The transportation industry is comprised of the airport, the Port of Anchorage, and the Railroad hub.  The Ted Steven's International Airport is located on the Western coast of Anchorage.  The Port of Anchorage and the Railroad Hub are both located in the western region of Government Hill.  The Convention and Tourism industry permeates all of Anchorage with the Convention Center and Bureau located downtown ("Anchorage: Economy.").

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As indicated in the graph, the majority of businesses and industry run in a band north to south down the middle of Anchorage along the Seaward Highway, effectively dividing the city.  This pattern is in keeping with that observed in other major cities with firms clustering around interstates and beltways.  If one examines the ten largest employers in Anchorage, a list that includes Providence Health System Alaska, British Petroleum, and FedEx, all are headquartered along this Seaward Highway band.  While not necessarily composing a city center there is particular commercial density in the downtown area as the majority of Government jobs are located in the downtown/ Government Hill area.  In keeping with residential land patterns, the Western part of the band is concentrated with more industrial blue collar jobs, while the Eastern portion is more white collar centered.  Besides this commercial band the only other job centers are the Ted Steven's International Airport to the west and the military bases to the northeast.

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