Anchorage "Mayor's Walk" Audio Guide

The City of Anchorage may be relatively young, but it has a storied history that is rich enough to keep you captivated for hours. And who better to recount some of the highlights than four former mayors who were there when they happened? Among other things, you’ll hear about Anchorage’s wilder days, what the 1964 earthquake was really like, how oil money helped shape many facets of modern life, and Alaska’s little-known 9/11 scare.

Show Map

Points of Interest

Bob Hope once called Anchor­age’s 4th Avenue of the 1950’s the Longest bar in the world,” and that might not have been an exag­ger­a­tion. Between the bars and the one main post office, down­town 4th Avenue was the place for every­one to meet and catch up.

On Good Fri­day, 1964, one of the largest earth­quakes ever record­ed shook Anchor­age. 4th Avenue sank one sto­ry under­ground, and those that had offices and shops had to get their things out through sec­ond-sto­ry windows.

Explore down­town Anchor­age of the late 60’s, a time when JC Pen­ney was the cool new hang­out and the lights of the city faci­nat­ed a young Mark Begich. Fol­low him as he explores down­town with his camera.

Feel the excite­ment of the world-famous Fur Ren­dezvous Dog Sled Races with May­or Dan Sul­li­van. The 60’s were an excit­ing time for Rondy races, with leg­ends George Att­la and Ronald Lom­bard bat­tling for first place year after year.

Enjoy down­town’s best view of Denali and learn about how vital the Port of Anchor­age is to the city and the state. Whether it is the cars we dri­ve, the food we eat or the clothes we wear, almost 80% of Anchor­age’s goods come via the port. 

Fea­tures This quaint down­town park is named after the deli­cious fruit­ing shrub. Enjoy roman­tic views of Cook Inlet from the swing set and tour Anchor­age’s old­est stand­ing home, the Oscar Ander­son House. At 1.5 acres, Elder­ber­ry Park offers 10 park­ing spaces, tod­dler play equip­ment for 2 – 5 year olds as well as equip­ment for 5 – 12 year olds, bench­es through­out the park, access to Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and pos­si­ble restrooms available…  ...more

Delaney Park Strip, in down­town Anchor­age, is a great place to fly a kite, play fris­bee or soft­ball, or even ride a dog sled in the win­ter. But in Anchor­age’s ear­ly years it was used as an airstrip. Lis­ten to the sto­ry of how an enter­pris­ing bi-plane pilot repur­posed it as such and in 1997 retraced a his­toric flight to Fair­banks that occured exact­ly 70 years prior. 

See down­town Anchor­age of the 60’s through the eyes of 8‑year-old Dan Sul­li­van. Duck into bars, bar­ber­shops and hotels as he sells copies of the Anchor­age Times for a dime and meet some true Alaskan old-timers.”

Cre­at­ed by a local high school stu­dent as his Eagle Scout project, this scale mod­el of our solar sys­tem is a great way to explore Anchor­age. Tak­ing the walk, you expe­ri­ence the rel­a­tive size of the plan­ets and their dis­tance from the Sun. The scale was cho­sen so that a leisure­ly walk­ing pace mim­ics the speed of light. On this scale, each step equals the dis­tance light trav­els in one sec­ond (300,000 kilo­me­ters or 186,000 miles). It should…  ...more

Bas­ket­ball is big in Alas­ka, whether you’re in Anchor­age or the small­est vil­lage. The Old City Gym, where the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter is now, was where all the action used to be, and dur­ing Fur Ron­dezvous it would play host to a statewide bas­ket­ball tournament. 

Anchor­age is used to deal­ing with all kinds of nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, from earth­quakes and vol­ca­noes to snow­storms and for­est fires. But Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 brought with it new chal­lenges, includ­ing a Kore­an air­plane head­ing to Anchor­age broad­cast­ing a sig­nal say­ing they were hijacked. Then-may­or George Wuerch describes the city’s response. 

It’s hard to under­state the impact of the oil indus­try on Alaska’s econ­o­my. Look­ing at the down­town Anchor­age sky­line many of the tallest build­ings were built by oil com­pa­nies, includ­ing Alaska’s tallest build­ing, the Cono­coPhillips building. 

The Dena’i­na Cen­ter is one of down­town Anchor­age’s newest build­ings, but sur­pris­ing­ly it is one of the first to hon­or the native peo­ple of south­cen­tral Alas­ka. From the names of the rooms in the build­ing, to the art­work on the walls and even the bricks on the side­walk below, the Dena’i­na Cen­ter is full of lit­tle gems. 

Not only is the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter a world-class per­for­mance hall for music, plays and opera, but it also is where may­or Dan Sul­li­van was sworn into office. Join him on stage with his father, for­mer may­or George Sul­li­van, and every oth­er liv­ing mayor. 

In the 1980’s, when the state and city were flush with oil mon­ey, there was a big push to improve the infas­truc­ture in down­town Anchor­age. These large cap­i­tal projects enabled Anchor­age to host events like the 2001 Spe­cial Olympics. For­mer may­or George Wuerch describes the expe­ri­ence of host­ing that large event and get­ting the chance to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Sen­a­tor Mark Begich, who’s wife owns the Kim­ball Build­ing, recounts the his­to­ry of this his­toric build­ing and what Anchor­age was like back in the tent city” days, as well as how Anchor­age has grown. 

Ring­ing the bell for the Sal­va­tion Army out­side JC Pen­ney down­town, for­mer may­or George Wuerch heard old timers’ sto­ries from Anchor­age’s wild and crazy WWII years. Back then, down­town Anchor­age only had one or two paved streets and a pletho­ra of seedy estab­lish­ments lin­ing 4th and 5th Avenues.