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Where is Anchorage? Defining its location in relation to earthquakes

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - This started as a question from a viewer: “When they say an earthquake is x number of miles from Anchorage, where is Anchorage?”

When one thinks about it, the city of Anchorage is huge.

“It’s one of the largest places in the United States,” said Julie Saupe, president and CEO of Visit Anchorage. “We’re at 1,961 square miles which actually makes us larger than the two smallest states. Rhode Island and Delaware are actually a little bit smaller than Anchorage is.”

Anchorage is the fourth largest city by area in the United States. The top three? Sitka, Wrangell and Juneau. So how is “Anchorage” determined in relation to earthquake location? Is it the closest edge to the earthquake? The center of town? The airport?

According to the Alaska Earthquake Center, it’s a data point — one specific spot. In this case, Anchorage is at 61 degrees, 13 minutes north latitude, and 149 degrees, 54 minutes west longitude. That puts it a little to the west of 5th Avenue and I Street in downtown Anchorage.

Of course, Anchorage is more than a single location.

“We consider Anchorage anything coming from Eklutna at the north end coming back down through Chugiak, Eagle River,” Saupe said. “What we consider Anchorage proper, and Girdwood and Portage on the south end. So it gives us glaciers and lakes and fabulous mountains.”

So even if Anchorage is marked as one spot, there’s so much more to see.

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