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Anchorage, 1970s
July 31, 2010 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Remembering Anchorage in the Seventies.
posted by Pants! (44 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
These photos are fantastic.
posted by davebush at 12:55 PM on July 31, 2010


Sorry, I just had to.
posted by timsteil at 12:58 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before he became a sideshow freak, Joe McGinniss wrote an excellent Alaska book that I would recommend very highly to anyone interested in the subject of these photos.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sarah Palin was able to see the USSR from her house.
posted by k8t at 1:08 PM on July 31, 2010


Terrible design, awesome pics. Thanks for posting this.
posted by nevercalm at 1:42 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm not quite sure why, but I want to go to there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sadly, there is no way to link to any of the images directly, but Major Liquor and Party House look like two of the most awesomely sad places in the world. I have to admit, too, that I'm very curious w/r/t what went on in the "dateing [sic]/escort service" building, which appears to be a little house in the middle of nowhere.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:06 PM on July 31, 2010


Generally speaking, what an unappealing mess. But great photos, none-the-less.
posted by maxwelton at 2:07 PM on July 31, 2010


I think I was meant to live then and there. Beautiful.
posted by Sreiny at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


These are wonderful photos and I am always intrigued by photos from the 1970's. Thanks for posting.
posted by josher71 at 2:24 PM on July 31, 2010


Wow, what a depressing looking place that was.
posted by octothorpe at 2:29 PM on July 31, 2010


Wow, what a depressing looking place that was.

I seems like the photographer was after a particular aesthetic. The thing I noticed after a bit is how the giant forbidding mountains seem to loom over the bleak urban landscape in a great number of these.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:32 PM on July 31, 2010


Neat. I visited Anchorage a bit after these photos were taken, and I remember it looking just like this, but slushier and grayer.

I assume this is the international symbol for "we provide hand jobs"?
posted by Forktine at 2:32 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note that there is a link at the bottom to more Anchorage photos, as well as series from other cities.
posted by Forktine at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2010


I seems like the photographer was after a particular aesthetic. The thing I noticed after a bit is how the giant forbidding mountains seem to loom over the bleak urban landscape in a great number of these.

Anchorage pretty much did look like this through the '70s and '80s- it wouldn't have been difficult at all to find that particular aesthetic. It's better now (much better), but some of the landmarks in the first 20 photographs or so are still around- the art deco 4th Avenue Theater (no longer used as a theater- its long-term fate is up in the air), that horrible yellow Sunshine Mall, Paris Cafe, the building with the big Atlas statue on it (my dad's law office was on the back of that building, which houses the Fur Factory and the White Spot Cafe, both of which are still truckin').

Thanks for posting, Pants!.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2010


Well, that certainly looks like a very characterless, nondescript and depressing place. Good pics, though.
posted by Decani at 2:45 PM on July 31, 2010


Wow! And I can confirm, it's not just a photographic aesthetic or something. That IS what Anchorage looked like in the 1970s.

And having grown up there/then, it's also what Anchorage still looks like, in the scale model inside my head.

(My mental scale model is complete with that weird sweet/musty smell in the Sunshine Mall, a combination of old carpet, years of indoor smoking, and some kind of sweet concessions stand. Flavored popcorn, perhaps? Or an Orange Julius?)
posted by ErikaB at 3:32 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


At a quick glance through, it seems like every strip club in Anchorage is in there.

Also, Dave Palmer can't fly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:35 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm sure Anchorage looked exactly like this, because many of the small towns I visited in Northern Alberta during the late 70s were just the same. Enough so that the pictures gave me sort of unpleasant chills.
posted by jokeefe at 3:51 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


What freaks me out about looking at pictures from the 70s is that I can't help thinking that 10 years ago, I'd have been laughing at the clothes.
posted by brokkr at 5:57 PM on July 31, 2010


Dogs can't drive.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:57 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm not quite sure why, but I want to go to there.

Well it was the 70s, duh. Before the Man really crushed everything down good. Notice the lack of chain stores, and how not everything is done with irony.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:22 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I remember just enough of the 70's to be nostalgic for them, but not enough to wish them good riddance. My parents probably feel the same way about the 50's.
posted by klanawa at 6:28 PM on July 31, 2010


Is it just me, or has very little changed since the 70s?
posted by schmod at 6:38 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm kind of frightened by how much the '70s in Anchorage look like the early 2000s in NW Ohio, in many of these photos.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, what a depressing looking place that was.

Alaska sounds like a great fucking big version of Washington County, Maine, but with mountains.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:16 PM on July 31, 2010


This is why I can never live in Anchorage again.
posted by vespabelle at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm not sure I can describe what emotion these pictures conjure up in me. Is it possible to feel nostalgic, yet filled with loathing at the same time?

I was a teenager in the 70's. I grew up in the absolute opposite corner of the continent, but these pictures (apart from the mountains, the snow, and references to Pacific-Northwest / frontier-specific stuff like the rodeo and the various "Eskimo"-style motifs) remind me so much of what the 70's looked like in my part of the country, too. Maybe they looked like that everywhere in the US, and maybe still do, I don't know. The ramshackle cars, the down-at-the-heels buildings (barely rating the term "architecture", most of them), stoic indifferent people, cheesy advertising and neon, desolate "adult" bookstores and theaters, the sheer worn-out frowziness of it all.... It did indeed seem at the time bleak, depressing, sad, unappealing, nondescript - all of the negative adjectives other people have been using here, and then some. In retrospect, it felt like a sterile depleted time, the post-WWII boom busted and the 80's "greed-is-good" frenzy not yet begun.

It sure as hell wasn't an "aesthetic", it was a goddamned condition of life; and while I recognize it intimately, I don't miss it even a tiny bit.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:57 PM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


greg_ace, i can tell you that there's sections of michigan that still look much like this - or worse

we seem to have more plywood on the windows ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:13 PM on July 31, 2010


Wow...great pics. I lived in Anchorage in the late 60's, after the 1964 earthquake which pretty much leveled 4th Avenue (the main drag). Brought back a lot of memories.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2010


Joe Keefe

The last time I was in Northern Alberta was a couple of years ago, Dawson Creek, Ft St John, Grand Prarie, it still looks like this, with less rub and tug shacks, and more churches.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:23 PM on July 31, 2010


Been there. Mountains meet the sea. Very rare to see that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:31 PM on July 31, 2010


Dunno guys - I'm here right now and... well, I wasn't here in the 70's, but I find this all to depressingly similar to the modern Anchorage. Different businesses and, as charmedimsure pointed out, some of the same landmarks.

I guess to me the overall feeling of these images is mighty similar to today. This one is pretty much what this afternoon looked like. Mountains still loom over the city. Styles have changed, but people still gather to do the same things.
posted by volk at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2010


This is Great! Thanks!
posted by planetkyoto at 11:08 PM on July 31, 2010


My impression of the 70s has entirely been informed by old TV shows. Every single parked car in these pictures looked like it was about to peel out with Mr. T or some mulleted madman behind the wheel.
posted by breath at 12:14 AM on August 1, 2010


Joe Keefe

The last time I was in Northern Alberta was a couple of years ago, Dawson Creek, Ft St John, Grand Prarie, it still looks like this, with less rub and tug shacks, and more churches.


I'm not suprised. (PS it's J. O'Keefe-- you make one bad choice of username, it haunts you forever. Oh well.)
posted by jokeefe at 12:26 AM on August 1, 2010


What I find haunting is that, apart from the cars and clothes, these could be the down-at-heel part of downtown anywhere in America, taken at any time since, I guess, the 70s. You can't even tell if the city is growing, decaying, or standing still.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2010


Amazing, just great. The kind of thing that keeps me coming back.
posted by seagull.apollo at 3:16 AM on August 1, 2010


Visited there in the early 80s, in the my early teens (Dad won a contest!) This conforms exactly to my memories- it seemed like a large grid of small blocks alternating liquor store, gun shop, massage parlor. A few high-rises downtown with houses in-between, unzoned. Those mountains looming.

Even those newer cars, Chevy Novas and such, seem worn down by the weather.
posted by bendybendy at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2010


sorry J.!
posted by PinkMoose at 10:26 AM on August 1, 2010


I grew up in Anchorage. We moved there when I was about 4, round about 1977, and I finally escaped in 2001. Even though I was only in Anchorage for the last few years of the '70s, and was young enough that my memories really begin in the '80s, it's amazing to me just how familiar those shots are. Anchorage, apparently, was (and is) slow to change.

For a little more northern nostalgia, though more recent than the 1970s, and text rather than pictoral:

* The Decline of Northern Civilization, an article first published in the weekly alterna-paper The Anchorage Press, and republished on my blog courtesy of the author after the Press redesigned their website and lost the original version, looking at the rise and fall of Anchorage's punk/indie/alternative culture from the late 70s through the 90s.

* Back When Anchorage Was Cool, a blog post of my own, riffing off the "Decline" article and filling in my own experiences with Anchorage's alternative/indie/goth culture in the 90s.
posted by djwudi at 11:22 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course, Anchorage looks terrible and depressing in these photographs; just look what Giant Starbear Grizzly does on his way Fairbanks for every UAF hockey game at the Carlson Center.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:26 AM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey! I lived there then! (Well, Ft Richardson, but still...)
posted by grubi at 5:27 PM on August 1, 2010


I lived there 1978-1981. Went to John F Kennedy Elementary School. My father was in the Army, a part of some recreation division. He put on plays, organize sports leagues, that type of stuff.

And, as much as I can remember, Alaska looked like that.
posted by grubi at 5:31 PM on August 1, 2010


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