100 points about Anchorage

March 23, 2009 at 8:24 am | Posted in alaska, anchorage, architecture and design, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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OK, maybe I can pull this off without sounding either really old or weepily nostalgic.  This is supposed to be a feel-good exercise, OK?  Lists in random order.

50 Things I Liked About Anchorage That Are No Longer Here:
1. Earthquake Park, the first time I went there, in 1971 there were still pieces of houses and a lot of other evidence of what happened in 1964.  Still a great place but quake evidence is hard to find.
2. Movies at the 4th Ave. Theater.  None of the newer theaters begin to compare.
3. The building at 8th and I that had the 1930s era grocery with wood frame doors on the coolers, pickle barrel, etc.; a liquor store [in a former gas station] inhabited by cats; and apartments on the upper floor.
4. Places with loudmouthed or memorable proprietors like Club 25, Kobuk Coffee, the White Spot and the woman on Turnagain Arm in the place that’s now Turnagain House.
5. The old B&J Store when it was on the main floor where the Bingo hall is now [some of it still occupies the basement].
6. Eddie’s Sandbox at Four Corners.  I never went in there, just liked the name and the looks of the place.
7. The Billik Inn.
8. The little mall under Penney’s parking garage.  There were shops and restaurants and even a little Orange Julius crammed underneath the bottom of the exit ramp spool.
9. When places like Russian Jack, AMU, Fairview near Merrill Field, Mt. View, Muldoon, Sand Lake seemed like the ends of the earth, before so many roads connected and before so much infill development.
10. The Carrs grocery stores before they were owned by Safeway.
11. The old, cramped, crappy plywood day lodge at Alyeska.
12. The Rabbit Creek Inn.
13. Old Texaco gas stations at Rabbit Creek, Girdwood and other places.
14. The Spenard Safeway with the barrel vault roof.
15. The museum before the 1980 addition.  It had a huge yard with big trees, the Federal Building wasn’t there yet and A St. stopped at 9th Ave.
16. When almost the whole run, between 6th and 9th and the inlet and Gambell was filled with houses and small apartment buildings.  There were small shops interspersed, lots of showy gardens, and a great community feel.  K St. in this area still gives an idea of what all of these blocks were like.
17. The Murmac Lounge, dark and smoky hole in the wall bar where F St. Station later appeared.
18. Woolworth’s.
19. Wings & Things.
20. Arctic Valley Ski Area, in the days before Hilltop when it was a bustling, popular place to learn to ski.
21. The Bird House.  At least there’s a decent replica of it.
22. The Garden of Eatin’.
23. When Wasilla and Soldotna were pretty much just truck stops.
24. Almost 100 percent of retail and restaurant businesses were locally owned.
25. Only five radio stations!
26. Ruben Gaines on TV giving weather forecasts while drawing comics.
27. The Warehouse, hangout for the tie-dyed crowd off Old Seward.
28. The junkyard on Old Seward with fence made of welded wheels.
29. When there were many more businesses with the size and atmosphere of The Second Chance.  [It’s still there, for some reason!]
30. The downtown Book Cache store. 
31. The Friendly Fireside Lounge.
32. The building near the airport that once housed the Visual Arts Center.
33. Gig’s Music Theater.
34. The Ragin’ Cage.
35. Larson’s Ice Cream on 5th Ave.
36. 13 Coins Restaurant.
37. Can’t recall its name, interesting shop with vintage/Alaskana/second hand merchandise on 4th between G and H, closed in the last five years.
38. The remains of Portage when they were more visible.
39. Brewster’s Dept. Store.  Still have two shirts bought there.  The only Mt View business that didn’t leave.
40. Branch libraries.  [They’re finally on the comeback trail, though.]
41. The 10 ft tall chicken.  Last seen near 13th and Gambell, whereabouts unknown.
42. Uncle’s Pizza.  On Gambell.  Uncle Who?, i always wondered.
43. The fireplace house on East 15th.
44. Pagoda Chinese Restaurant at 5th and A in a tiny house.  House is still there, unoccupied, not looking promising.
45. Stuckagain Heights Restaurant.  My mom and stepfather were married there in 1977.
46. Moose Horn in Chugiak, 1940s roadhouse lodge that burned about five years ago.
47. The two crappiest Brown Jug stores, the one in Spenard in an old gas station and the one on Merrill Field in containers.
48. Brown’s Drive In.
49. The cabin and woods on the hill at 16th and Karluk, leveled two years ago for apartments.
50. Noble’s Diner.

50 Things I Like About Anchorage That Are Still Here:
1. The windmill.
2. The star on the mountain at Arctic Valley.
3. The Second Chance.
4. Alaska Art Tile building, now the Muffin Man Cafe.
5. The Captain Cook Hotel.
6. Kincaid Park.  Some undesirable changes, still a gem.
7. The moose, bears, fox, all the other wildlife.
8. The trails, parks and Chugach mountains.
9. Protection of assets/careful redevelopment in Spenard, Fairview and Mt. View.
10. Inlet View, South Addition, Rogers Park, Government Hill and other pleasant, close-in places.
11. The Delaney Park Strip.
12. The old houses remaining near downtown.  [Someone, please restore the Edes House!]
13. The Russian Jack Park chalet.  Endangered, as is the park.
14. The Square Dance place on Government Hill, and other colorful WWII era and earlier Government Hill bric-a-brac.
15. The Lucky Wishbone.
16. The Eagle River car wash with adjacent duck pond.
17. Benny’s Taco Wagon.
18. The Bicycle Shop.  Nothing like riding a bike freshly tuned by a master mechanic.
19. The bike trail from Bird to Gird that used to be part of the highway.  And other Turnagain Arm places like Beluga Point, Bird Point, Falls Creek, etc.
20. The old Railroad Depot.
21. The Captain Cook monument on the 3rd and L curve.  Looking sketchier all the time, though.
22. The concrete and glass condo at 74th and Arctic.
23. Stewart’s Photo Shop.  Endangered.
24. Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge.  For sale.
25. The Wood Shed.
26. The Central Building at 3rd and G.
27. Small commercial building one lot east of E St. on south side of 4th.  Sydney Laurence had a photo studio there, and he lived in the hotel at the NW corner of 4th and E in the ’20s.  Amazingly, both spaces are still there.
28. Old City Hall, 4th between E and F.  Housed the entirety of city government from 1920-36 — all of the offices, maintenance shop and a jail!
29. The cemetery in Eklutna.
30. What’s left of the little neighborhood along E. 3rd between Ingra and Cordova.  Endangered but persistent.
31. The two buildings on D St. built by Z.J. Loussac.
32. 4th Ave. between C and D — as bad as it is, glad it’s still there.
33. Ancient, tiny one room log schoolhouse near 4th and A.
34. 1915 community hall at 4th and Eagle, with two 1920s log cabins on property.
35. The 1915 railroad-built cottages on Government Hill, two or three still resembling original appearance.
36. Big spruce trees, wherever healthy specimens still stand [especially in Girdwood].
37. The Johnson Pass Trail between Potter and McHugh, including the Potter Section House.
38. The Bake Shop and the Sitzmark in Girdwood.  Endangered?
39. Summer festivals including Seward on July 4th and the Girdwood Forest Fair.  Always under siege by drunken idiots, seems like.
40. West High School.  Lots of history in those halls and theater.
41. The Alaska State Fair.  Doesn’t seem to lose its appeal.
42. The Old Glenn Highway between Eagle River and Peters Creek.  [Hint: try the old highway, if there is both an old and new one.]
43. The Purple Hippo sharpening on Abbott Rd. [although they removed the beached panel truck with the lettering, SHARPENING THE PURPLE HIPPO before I took a photo, dang!].
44. The roller skating rink [even if its the least cool of the three that used to be here].
45. The Peanut Farm, even though it was better before all the improvements.
46. Bell’s Nursery.  [Too bad they took the gift shop out of the Sand Lake location, though.]
47. New Sagaya.  Would like to see it cleaned up a little and less cluttered.
48. Middle Way Cafe.  What a perfect place, is all I can say.
49. MTS Gallery and Trailer Art Center.  OK, I’m biased.
50. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  Best legacy any politician could hope for.  Too bad his successors couldn’t finish it.

I’ve spent too much time on this.  maybe the next post on this subject will be 50 Things About Anchorage I Could Live Without, or 50 Things About Anchorage That Are No Longer Here and I Don’t Miss.



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  1. I’m pretty sure I cried and called my friends when Wings n Things closed. I heard they reopened, but I also heard it isn’t the same.

    I like lists.

    And yur alley pics are kinda cool too…..

  2. Club Paris?
    Old Nikko Gardens in Spenard, before the fire. 😦
    Bars closing from 5AM-8AM
    OMG – The Campbell Creek Classic!!!!

  3. Sharpening The Purple Hippo?

    purple hippo photo

  4. I miss Norma Goodman, Theda Comstock, Ruth Briggs and many other that graced the airwaves of Anchorage for decades.

  5. Earth Quake Park, before it became ‘just a park’… man I remember mom taking me down there, when I was only like 5 or 6, and all the wreckage that was still there.

    As for the Campbell Creek Classic, I’ve got tons of memories of that. It was always the same weekend as my mother was in a craft show at the Campbell Creek Park… so I got to run down the creek by the park and watch all them float by.

  6. The Old Native Museum near the airport in the big igloo!
    Shimeks Audio. Scenic Park when it was the end of the world. Watching TV shows, including the Super Bowl, on tape delay because everything had to be flown up from Seattle – virtually nothing live. Mazzis, still the best pizza ever! Northern Coomercial before Nordstorm bought it. The old Fireseed theater/drive in. So much fun history!

  7. Herb Shandlin. probably spelled wrong?
    Bi-Lo markets and the Husky Bottle liquor on west Northern Lights
    Ulmer’s Rexall

    • Herb shaindlin, he passed away in ’08. My brother-in-law used to work with him.

  8. how about the pilots ballgames

  9. I was sad when they removed the massage parlors in Spenard. The Magic Carpet Ride had a beautiful pool and spa. What a shame!

    • As a paperboy for the Anchorage Times at age 14 in 1977 I delivered the daily afternoon newspaper to The Magic Carpet Ride along my route. It was more than just a massage parlor. I could tell even at that age. Given the scantily dressed women answering the door, it was always the highlight of the paper route each month collecting $3.25 for their paper bill.

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