Sewards Folly

Do a trip report here....go to another city and want to relate it to what KC is doing right or could do better? Give us a summary in here.
User avatar
Highlander
Mark Twain Tower
Mark Twain Tower
Posts: 8826
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

Sewards Folly

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 19, 2017 2:52 pm

I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Anchorage this winter. For those who have never been there, the city has a much bigger feel to it than one would expect for a metro with ~450,000 people (about 100,000 of which are in a smattering of relatively distant exurban communities such as Wasilla - home of Sarah Pallin). The city has an urban downtown area and a semi-urban midtown area with a smattering of more suburban nodes to the south and northeast. I was really surprised how urban downtown is. There is a lot of life in the downtown area - restaurants, condos (albeit not immediately downtown), a lot of retail (sadly more than KC's downtown) and a startling number of homeless. The latter surprised me considering how brutally harsh winters are here.

Other than climate, there are some very different things about this city and what you would find in the lower 48 - an extremely transient population, a core of people with extreme viewpoints on life (at least they strike me as extreme) who are here because of the frontier setting and will never leave, and an oversized aviation industry. Despite dwarfing Texas in size, The state has probably (just guessing) far less road mileage than even Missouri. People get to the outlying communities by flying and Anchorage is the hub with two very busy airports and a Fedex hub. There's also an air force base housing F22's which are pretty active and loud. I've met a ton of pilots in my short time here. The city is full of hotels to accommodate the transient population (north slope oil fields and tourism are rotational/seasonal work) and the place is crawling with tourists in the summer. The neighborhoods are not particularly dense and there is no traditional semi urban "nice part of town". The neighborhoods in the city tend to be very mixed (and expensive - three quarters of a million will buy you a 1800 sq ft house or condo downtown). The rich tend to live high on the foothills of the Chugach Mountains where they can wake up to views of Denali every morning.

It's not a place I would want to stay for a long time. The winters are long, dark and brutal and it's an extremely expensive place to live. Even more expensive when you start buying the toys necessary for life (4WD, studded snow tires, snowblower, Gortex) and those you want for recreation (fat tire snow bikes at $3000 per pop, snowmobiles, fishing equipment) but even a trip to the grocery store or paying utilities is a painful experience financially. There is, however, a lot to do - ski, hike, snowmobile, bike, animal watching (here's a new term - urban Moose - I see them every day), fishing, hunting, etc... and there are actually a lot of good restaurants and other urban amenities as well.

swid
Strip mall
Strip mall
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:29 pm
Location: Financial District

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby swid » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:57 pm

I've been traveling to Alaska 3-4x/year for work for the past few years, and I'll elaborate on some of Highlander's points.

- Downtown is *very* 60s/70s architecturally...but that's to be expected, given that the entire downtown was relocated/rebuilt after the 1964 earthquake, but the influx of oil money during the 70s. I'm guessing if that sequence of events had happened about 10 years later than it did, Anchorage's downtown would be nowhere near as urban and retail-oriented as it is.
- Even though Anchorage's airport only has around half the amount of average annual traffic as KC's (but that traffic is much more seasonal and it has many more aircraft operations overall, so it's "overbuilt" compared to lower 48 airports), it's a fairly good template for how a future KCI should be laid out - Concourse C in particular.
- Anchorage might as well be Seattle or Portland if compared to the libertarian-heavy conservatism of the rest of the state. :-) Of course, given how much of a frontier 99% of Alaska still is, you can understand why a lot of people move there simply to be left alone.
- As you mentioned, there's no truly "nice" part of town in Anchorage; the closest analog (in the "new McMansion subdivisions" sense) would be the Palmer and Wasilla exurbs in the Mat-Su Valley.
-- Given that there's only one road in from that area, if there's a wreck or bad weather, it's routine for it to take 2-3 hours to get between those areas and Anchorage. Proposals to either create commuter rail service on the existing Alaska Railroad line or to build a bridge across the Knik Arm are brought up every so often, but have yet to get anywhere.
- The Alaska Bush takes all the cost-of-living downsides, magnifies them, and gives you far fewer (non-outdoorsy) things to do in return to make up for it.

All that being said, I love working with people who live in Alaska and it's great to go up there for a week or so at a time (even in the depths of winter), but it's not somewhere I'd want to live long-term, either. For touristy stuff, though...highly, highly recommended.

brewcrew1000
Valencia Place
Valencia Place
Posts: 1959
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:10 am
Location: Broadway/Gilham according to google maps

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby brewcrew1000 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:39 am

I've been to Anchorage for the Iditarod. Nothing in the city ever wowed me but the natural beauty surrounding the city was amazing so it kind of offsets it. If you guys ever want a great meal, check out Jen's in Midtown, its a great place, its in a crappy stripmall but it was a great meal, I went about 10 years ago, but its nice to see they are still open.
http://www.jensrestaurant.com/

mean
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 10611
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2003 9:00 am
Location: Historic Northeast

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby mean » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:48 am

It's nice to see that there are still people using Microsoft FrontPage.

mykn
New York Life
New York Life
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:33 pm

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby mykn » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:55 pm

Just click the link to the website designer at the bottom of that page. Obviously created by a highschooler around 1999/2000.

mean
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 10611
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2003 9:00 am
Location: Historic Northeast

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby mean » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:40 pm

I did. It would have been a rather prescient high schooler offering to consult with folks about wireless routers and Blu-Ray drives in 1999.

brewcrew1000
Valencia Place
Valencia Place
Posts: 1959
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:10 am
Location: Broadway/Gilham according to google maps

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby brewcrew1000 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:48 pm

Pretty sure thats how I remember the website when I looked at it back in 2005 - But anyway thats a great place to dine at while in Anchorage

mykn
New York Life
New York Life
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:33 pm

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby mykn » Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:41 pm

mean wrote:I did. It would have been a rather prescient high schooler offering to consult with folks about wireless routers and Blu-Ray drives in 1999.


Well, maybe it was updated a few times :D .

User avatar
Highlander
Mark Twain Tower
Mark Twain Tower
Posts: 8826
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:40 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Sewards Folly

Postby Highlander » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:44 am

brewcrew1000 wrote:I've been to Anchorage for the Iditarod. Nothing in the city ever wowed me but the natural beauty surrounding the city was amazing so it kind of offsets it. If you guys ever want a great meal, check out Jen's in Midtown, its a great place, its in a crappy stripmall but it was a great meal, I went about 10 years ago, but its nice to see they are still open.
http://www.jensrestaurant.com/


In the past couple of years, they've had to ship in snow for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. That won't be a problem this year. Lots of snow.

I've driven by that restaurant. I'll have to give it a try. Anchorage has a few pretty nice restaurants and one of the better pizza places I've ever eaten at - Moose's Tooth. Great beer.


Return to “City Trip Reports”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest