Whittier: A Town Where Everyone Lives Under the Same Roof

Check out this town called Whittier in Alaska, USA where all the citizens live under the same roof. But why & how? Watch the full video to know the answers.

Have you ever heard of a town where all the citizens live under the same roof? Well, such a place exists, and it’s Whittier in Alaska, USA.

Whittier is on the beautiful western shores of Prince William Sound, surrounded by mountains. It’s called "the town under one roof" because almost the entire population of 272 (as of 2020) lives in a single 14-storey building named “The Begich Towers.”

This unique building has 153-bedroom apartments and bachelor efficiency units. But it’s more than just a place to live. The Begich Tower also has a school, grocery store, laundromat, church, medical clinic, police station, and recreational activities. Imagine living with everyone you know, including your family, friends, teachers, doctor, and police inspector, all under one roof!

To keep students safe from the harsh winter weather, Whittier School is connected to the tower’s west wing by a tunnel on the ground floor. The first floor of the building has everything needed to run the city smoothly, including a post office, police station, government offices, and a grocery store. The second floor has a health clinic and laundromat, the church is in the basement, and there’s a bed and breakfast for tourists on the top two floors.

Why does everything need to be under one roof? It’s due to Whittier’s history and geography. The town is at the head of a fjord, and until about 15 years ago, it was only accessible by boat. Whittier faces tough weather almost all year round, with strong winds, heavy rainfall, and extreme snowfall. The winters can be as cold as -30°C to -35°C. This makes it hard for locals to travel and return home, so it makes sense for them to live together in one building and have everything they need in one place.

The Begich Tower has historical significance too. During World War II, the US Army developed the area now known as Whittier to establish a military harbor and logistics base. The tower was a key refuge, especially during the harsh winters when the surrounding areas were impassable. In 1964, an earthquake and a 13-meter-high tsunami hit Whittier, further compelling residents to stay close and share resources.

Whittier is a close-knit community shaped by its unique living arrangements and shared challenges. Would you live in Whittier? Tell us in the comments.