"Before you judge the town of Whittier, you need to come visit it first," one resident said.
To some, Whittier may same like the strangest town in Alaska, but to the people living there, it is home. Those going to Whittier have to make their way through a tunnel that runs about two miles through solid rock. The tunnel is the only way to get into the town and the only way to get out of it. And it remains shut at night time, which means residents have to wait it out till the morning if they want to get out. But what's more unique about Whittier is that every single resident, no matter who they are and what they do for a living, have the exact same address when they live in this town.
The entire town lives under the same roof at the Begich Towers, which is also described by some as the "Wilderness Tower." The high-rise building might seem out of place as it stands in the lap of nature with pristine views around it. But it is literally the only place in Whittier where one can live. "People think it's weird," said Anna, a resident of Whittier who is also married to the town's Mayor.
"Yeah, it is known as the weirdest city in Alaska," her husband, Dave Dickason, told CBS News. But to them, there is nothing weird about the 300-odd residents of the entire town living in the same 14-story building all year round. "If I had one word, I'd say it's magical," Anna said.
From the outside, the Begich Towers may look like any other ordinary condominium. But there are more than just apartments inside the building. Those who walk into the Begich Towers would find a post office, a grocery store, a notary, and even a church inside the building. And to get to these places, residents only have to take an elevator ride.
The town has one and only one school, which is connected to the Begich Towers by another tunnel. About 50 students between the ages of 3 and 18 study at this school.
The town of Whittier became famous on the internet after the mayor's daughter, Jenessa, posted a video on TikTok. "I made the video thinking, 'OK, no one’s going to care about a tiny, tiny town in Alaska.' The next day, it had millions of views, and I was in shock," she told USA TODAY. "Our town’s Facebook group posted my TikTok on their page too."
Living in Whittier may not seem like everybody's cup of tea. But for those who want to surround themselves with mountains and the wilderness every single day, the town could seem like a peace of heaven. "Whittier feels like home," Jenessa shared, "all of us in this one building, we’re just a huge community and we love it."
While speaking to CBS News, one resident named Lee Shuford was asked, "What do you want people to know about Whittier?" "I just want them to know it's just a unique, beautiful place in its own way," Lee replied. "Before you judge the town of Whittier, you need to come visit it first."
Cover image source: CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube