Welcome to Whittier, Alaska, population 174. If you are in Whittier, you arrived here in one of two ways, either by boat or by an exciting two and a half mile drive through a mountain tunnel. The town of Whittier has only 12 square miles of land and does not have much to offer the average traveler.
A handful of restaurants, one bar, an apartment complex that houses the entire town, fishing boats, and a train station are all you will find. This strange city sits on a beautiful bay nestled by Alaskan mountains, the scene is serene, a nice fishing town, but what is that monstrosity looming in the distance.
The Buckner Building, otherwise known as “The City Under One Roof” sits abandoned, watching over the town. A building that was once the pride of Alaska, the largest building in the entire state, now sits as an eye sore to the community. It has been left in the hands of nature and urban decay.
The Buckner Building took 5 years to construct and was completed in 1953. The “City Under One Roof” is comprised of 273,660 square feet, which offered its military tenants 1000 apartments, shops, gymnasium, pool, hospital, library, rifle range, bowling alley, movie theater, and radio station. Everything needed by someone living in Whittier was available without ever leaving the facility.
The life of the Buckner Building was short lived. In 1964, the Great Alaskan Earthquake and Tsunami rocked Whittier. Unfortunately, Whittier was the closest town to the epicenter of the quake. Waves crashed in at a height of 31.7 meters above low tide, killing 12 people and causing 10 million dollars in damages. The Buckner Building suffered incredible damages and was condemned.
Now, over 40 years later, a town that was built to house 30,000 people in two buildings, is home to only 174. The building stands today only because the city cannot afford to have it demolished, due to the high cost of removing the asbestos and deconstructed debris. The “City Under One Roof” has been left in the hands of nature, vandals, and those who dare to enter its confines, as it is rumored to be haunted.
© Jillian Adolf Photography