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Interior Alaska is the central region of Alaska's territory, roughly bounded by the Alaska Range to the south and the Brooks Range to the north. It is largely wilderness. Mountains include Denali in the Alaska Range, the Wrangell Mountains, and the Ray Mountains. The native people of the interior are Alaskan Athabaskans. The largest city in the interior is Fairbanks, Alaska's second-largest city, in the Tanana Valley. Other towns include North Pole, just southeast of Fairbanks, Eagle, Tok, Glennallen, Delta Junction, Nenana, Anderson, Healy and Cantwell. The interior region has an estimated population of 113,154.
Interior Alaska experiences extreme seasonal temperature variability. Winter temperatures in Fairbanks average −12 °F (−24 °C) and summer temperatures average +62 °F (+17 °C). Temperatures there have been recorded as low as −65 °F (−54 °C) in mid-winter, and as high as +99 °F (+37 °C) in summer. Both the highest and lowest temperature records for the state were set in the Interior, with 100 °F (38 °C) in Fort Yukon and −80 °F (−64 °C) in Prospect Creek. Temperatures within a given winter are highly variable as well; extended cold snaps of forty below zero can be followed by unseasonable warmth with temperatures above freezing due to chinook wind effects.
Summers can be warm and dry for extended periods creating ideal fire weather conditions. Weak thunderstorms produce mostly dry lightning, sparking wildfires that are mostly left to burn themselves out as they are often far from populated areas. The 2004 season set a new record with over 6,600,000 acres (27,000 km2) burned.
The average annual precipitation in Fairbanks is 11.3 inches (28.7 cm). Most of this comes in the form of snow during the winter. Most storms in the interior of Alaska originate in the Gulf of Alaska, south of the state, though these storms often have limited precipitation due to a rain shadow effect caused by the Alaska Range.
On clear winter nights, the aurora borealis can often be seen dancing in the sky. Like all subarctic regions, the months from May to July in the summer have no night, only a twilight during the night hours. The months of November to January have little daylight. Fairbanks receives an average 21 hours of daylight between May 10 and August 2 each summer, and an average of less than four hours of daylight between November 18 and January 24 each winter.
Visible, short wave and near-infra-red image showing burned areas (brick red) and unburned vegetation (bright green) (August 2, 2009).
|Climate data for Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1904–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||52
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||29.7
|Average high °F (°C)||1.1
|Average low °F (°C)||−16.9
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||−41.3
|Record low °F (°C)||−66
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.58
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.3
|Average precipitation days||8.5||6.6||4.8||3.6||7.1||10.9||12.9||13.3||10.4||11.2||10.3||9.0||108.6|
|Average snowy days||10.1||7.9||5.9||2.8||0.8||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.4||10.2||11.9||10.8||61.8|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69.3||65.5||60.4||56.2||50.2||56.6||64.2||70.8||68.9||74.1||72.8||71.3||65.0|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||54||120||224||302||319||334||274||164||122||85||71||36||2,105|
|Source #1:  NOAA (relative humidity 1961–1990)|
|Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun, 1931–1960)|
People and cultureEdit
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Fairbanks first appeared on the 1910 U.S. Census as an incorporated city. It incorporated in 1903.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the population of the city in 2011 was 32,036 people, 11,075 households, and 7,187 families residing in the city. The population density was 995 people per square mile (366.3/km²). There were 12,357 housing units at an average density of 387.9 per square mile (149.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.1% White, 9.0% Black or African American, 10.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 3.6% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander. In addition, 9.0% of the population identified as Hispanic or Latino. The population estimate for the Fairbanks North Star Borough was 99,192. The racial makeup of the North Star Borough was 78.2% White, 5.0% Black, 7.2% Alaska Native or Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander; 6.3% identified as Hispanic or Latino.
Of the 11,075 households, 39.9% had children under the age of 18, 47.2% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.15.
The median age of the population was 28 years, with 9.6% under the age of 5, 26.0% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 7.3% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females, there were 105.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.2 males.
The median income for a household between 2007 and 2011 was $55,409. Males had a median income of $30,539 versus $26,577 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,814. About 7.4% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.6% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over. The percentage of high school graduates or higher is 88%. 20.4% of the population 25 years and up had a bachelor's degree or higher.
Fairbanks' largest newspaper is the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, which also includes a weekly entertainment guide, Latitude 65. A few other periodicals also serve Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough: The Ester Republic and the University of Alaska Fairbanks student newspaper, the Sun Star.
Fairbanks is also served by television and radio. Leading radio stations include AM Stations KFAR 660 talk radio, KCBF 820 ESPN Radio Network, KFBX 970 talk radio and KJNP 1170 religious radio. FM stations include 88.3 popular Christian, KUAC 89.9 National Public Radio, KSUA 91.5 University of Alaska, Fairbanks, KDJF ("CHET FM") 93.5 everything country KXLR 94.3 Alaska's new country KWDD 95.9 classic rock KYSC 96.9 soft rock, KWLF 98.1-"Wolf 98.1", top 40, KJNP-FM 100.3 religious radio, KAKQ-FM 101.1-"Magic 101.1" pop music, KIAK-FM 102.5 country music, KTDZ 103.9-"K-TED" adult hits, KKED 104.7 rock music, and KDFJ-LP 105.9 religious radio.
Fairbanks' major television affiliates are KATN (ABC) 2.1, Fox 2.2, The CW 2.3, KUAC-TV (PBS), KTVF (NBC), and KXDF-CD (CBS). Cable TV is available from GCI. Satellite TV from Dish Network and DirecTV are also available.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, a junior hockey team in the North American Hockey League, play at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Prior to the formation of the Ice Dogs, the Fairbanks Gold Kings was formed as a league team by the Teamsters Local 959 in 1974. The team took on a life of its own beyond local league play, and played out of the Big Dipper for many years until moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado (becoming the Colorado Gold Kings) in 1998.
The Alaska Goldpanners and the Fairbanks AIA Fire are summer collegiate baseball teams, playing home games at Growden Memorial Park. The park is home to the annual Midnight Sun Game, an annual tradition since 1906, played without artificial lights starting after ten at night on the summer solstice.
Also, Fairbanks is a hub for cross-country skiing in Alaska. It has hosted many different big ski events including the 2003 Junior Olympic Cross Country Ski Championship and the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Cross Country Distance Nationals It also has an annual 50k race called the Sonot Kkaazoot and the Fairbanks Town Series races which consists of four different races and the Chest Medicine Distance Series races which consists of only 3 races.
Fairbanks is also home to the Yukon Quest, an international 1,000 mile sled dog race that is considered one of the toughest in the world. The race alternates its starting and finishing points each year between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon.
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Fairbanks, Alaska was the birthplace of a significant number of successful musicians. Some distinguished individuals are Kelly Moneymaker, Kevin Johansen, Kevin Lenear of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Vivica Genaux, Lincoln Brewster, Rick Holmstrom, John Luther Adams, and Jon Button.
Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod winner, and husband David Monson, winner of the Yukon Quest, lived in Fairbanks. After Susan's death David kept on running their dog farm, Trail Breaker Kennels.
Fairbanks was also the starting place for Daryn Colledge, an offensive guard for the Arizona Cardinals. Colledge played for the Green Bay Packers and helped the team gain their victory in Super Bowl XLV.
Mike Dunlap, NBA and college basketball head coach, was born in Fairbanks.
Government and politicsEdit
The majority of Fairbanks is politically conservative, with three distinct geographical areas representing differing ideological views. The western part of the city, centered on the University of Alaska Fairbanks is Democratic-leaning. The downtown area and the eastern parts near Fort Wainwright are Republican-leaning, and the North Pole area farther east is even more conservative. Thus, many residents have noted that a neighborhood's position on the map of Fairbanks (west to east) mirrors its political orientation (left to right).
At present, the Fairbanks area comprises two entire districts, and most of a third district, in the Alaska Senate. The state senators for the Fairbanks area are John Coghill, Jr., Click Bishop, and Pete Kelly, all Republicans. The area comprises five entire districts, and a portion of one other district, in the Alaska House. Representatives for the Fairbanks area are Adam Wool, David Guttenberg, Scott Kawasaki (all Democrats), Steve Thompson and Tammie Wilson (both Republicans). Dave Talerico, a Republican member of the House who lives in the Denali Borough community of Healy, represents Richardson Highway communities beyond the North Pole area but within the Fairbanks North Star Borough boundaries.
Fairbanksans elected the first two Libertarian Party members to serve in a state legislature in the United States. Dick Randolph, who had previously served two terms in the Alaska House as a Republican, was first elected as a Libertarian in 1978 and re-elected in 1980. Ken Fanning was also elected to the House as a Libertarian in 1980. In the 1982 elections, Randolph ran unsuccessfully as the LP's nominee for Governor of Alaska, while Fanning lost re-election to the House following redistricting.
Fairbanks is a regional center for most departments of the State of Alaska, though the vast majority of state jobs are based in either Anchorage or Juneau.
Fairbanks, unlike other larger cities in Alaska, still has separate borough and city governments. The City of Fairbanks was incorporated on November 10, 1903. The city council held a special meeting at the Carlson Center on November 10, 2003 for the express purpose of denoting the centennial of incorporation. The Fairbanks North Star Borough, created by the Alaska Legislature under the Mandatory Borough Act of 1963, was incorporated on January 1, 1964.
Facilities and servicesEdit
Electricity is provided by the Golden Valley Electric Association. The Chena power site has four steam turbines fueled by coal and one oil-fueled electrical generator. Interior Alaska is not connected to the electrical grid of the contiguous United States and Canada, but a transmission line constructed in 1985 connects Fairbanks with power plants in the coal-producing area of Healy and the Anchorage area. Fairbanks currently holds the world record for the largest rechargeable battery, which weighs approximately 1,300 tons. The battery was installed to help bridge the gaps that occur during frequent power outages. The battery will provide power for 7 minutes to about 12,000 homes.
Until 1996, telephone service was provided by the Municipal Utilities Service, a public company. In that year, telephone service was sold to Alaska Communications Systems, a private company. General Communications Inc. has competed against ACS in Fairbanks since 1997. Both companies offer mobile phone service in Fairbanks, as do national and local providers such as AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless.
A pair of fiber optic cables provide long-distance telephone and Internet service. One parallels the Parks Highway and connects Fairbanks to Anchorage, while the other parallels the Richardson Highway and connects Fairbanks to Valdez. A third, spur fiber optic cable parallels the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and connects Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. Broadband Internet access is provided by GCI, ACS, Ace Tekk and a handful of satellite Internet and wireless Internet services.
Among the companies based in Fairbanks are Doyon, Limited.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District operates public schools serving the City of Fairbanks.
As the transportation hub for Interior Alaska, Fairbanks features extensive road, rail, and air connections to the rest of Alaska and Outside. At Fairbanks' founding, the only way to reach the new city was via steamboat on the Chena River. In 1904, money intended to improve the Valdez-Eagle Trail was diverted to build a branch trail, giving Fairbanks its first overland connection to the outside world. The resulting Richardson Highway was created in 1910 after Gen. Wilds P. Richardson upgraded it to a wagon road. In the 1920s, it was improved further and made navigable by automobiles, but it was not paved until 1957.
Fairbanks' road connections were improved in 1927, when the 161-mile (259 km) Steese Highway connected the city to the Yukon River at the gold-mining community of Circle. In 1942, the Alaska Highway connected the Richardson Highway to the Canadian road system, allowing road travel from the rest of the United States to Fairbanks, which is considered the unofficial end of the highway. Because of World War II, civilian traffic was not permitted on the highway until 1948.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a series of roads were built to connect Fairbanks to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. The Elliott Highway was built in 1957 to connect Fairbanks to Livengood, southern terminus of the Dalton Highway, which ends in Deadhorse on the North Slope. West of the Dalton intersection, the Elliott Highway extends to Manley Hot Springs on the Tanana River. To improve logistics in Fairbanks during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the George Parks Highway was built between Fairbanks and Palmer in 1971.
Until 1940, none of Fairbanks' surface streets were paved. The outbreak of World War II interrupted plans to pave most of the city's roads, and a movement toward large-scale paving did not begin until 1953, when the city paved 30 blocks of streets. During the late 1950s and the 1960s, the remainder of the city's streets were converted from gravel roads to asphalt surfaces. Few have been repaved since that time; a 2008 survey of city streets indicated the average age of a street in Fairbanks was 31 years.[needs update]
Public transportation has been provided by the Metropolitan Area Commuter System, an agency of the borough government, since 1977. Bus service links much of the urban Fairbanks area, with most routes connecting at the downtown transit center. University Bus Lines, a private company, existed for several decades before MACS started. The company, which was owned first by Paul Greimann and later by Walt Conant, mainly linked downtown Fairbanks with the university campus and the military bases.
Commercial airlines connect Fairbanks to the rest of Alaska as well as the lower 48 and select international destinations via Fairbanks International Airport. Fairbanks is the smallest city in the United States to be served by transatlantic flights, as Condor operates direct flight to Frankfurt in the summer tourist season.
After large-scale gold mining began north of Fairbanks, miners wanted to build a railroad from the steamboat docks on the Chena River to the mine sites in the hills north of the city. The result was the Tanana Mines Railroad, which started operations in September 1905, using what had been the first steam locomotive in the Yukon Territory. In 1907, the railroad was reorganized and named the Tanana Valley Railroad. The railroad continued expanding until 1910, when the first gold boom began to falter and the introduction of automobiles into Fairbanks took business away from the railroad. Despite these problems, railroad backers envisioned a rail line extending from Fairbanks to Seward on the Gulf of Alaska, home to the Alaska Central Railway.
In 1914, the US Congress appropriated $35 million for construction of the Alaska Railroad system, but work was delayed by the outbreak of World War I. Three years later, the Alaska Railroad purchased the Tanana Valley Railroad, which had suffered from the wartime economic problems. Rail workers built a line extending northwest from Fairbanks, then south to Nenana, where President Warren G. Harding hammered in the ceremonial final spike in 1923. The rail yards of the Tanana Valley Railroad were converted for use by the Alaska Railroad, and Fairbanks became the northern end of the line and its second-largest depot.
From 1923 to 2004, the Alaska Railroad's Fairbanks terminal was in downtown Fairbanks, just north of the Chena River. In May 2005, the Alaska Railroad opened a new terminal northwest of downtown, and that terminal is in operation today. In summer, the railroad operates tourist trains to and from Fairbanks, and it operates occasional passenger trains throughout the year. The majority of its business through Fairbanks is freight. The railroad is planning an expansion of the rail line from Fairbanks to connect the city via rail with Delta Junction, about 100 miles (160 km) southeast.
In 2010 Fairbanks ranks as the third most dangerous U.S. city for women with a rate of rape more than double the national average: 70 forcible rapes per 100,000 inhabitants.
Compared to communities of similar population, Fairbanks' crime rate (violent and property crimes combined) is higher than Alaska's average, which in turn is higher than the U.S. average.
|Motor Vehicle Theft||216||236||379|
Attractions and points of interestEdit
The city of Fairbanks and the greater Fairbanks area is home to a number of attractions and events, which draw visitors from outside of Alaska throughout the year. Summer tourist traffic primarily consists of cruise ship passengers who purchase package tours which include travel to Fairbanks. Many of these tourists spend one or more nights at a local hotel and visit one or more attractions. Tourism the rest of the year is mostly concentrated around the winter season, centered upon the northern lights, ice carving and winter sports. In addition, other events draw visitors from within Alaska, mostly from the community's trading area throughout Interior Alaska and the North Slope.
Alaska State Parks operates the Chena River State Recreation Site, a 29 acres (12 ha) park in the middle of Fairbanks with a campground, trails, and a boat launch. (There is a similarly named Chena River State Recreation Area, a much larger park, about 30 miles (48 km) outside Fairbanks)
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Fairbanks is twinned with:
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- "ACS Personal Internet Service". Alaska Communications Systems. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
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- Cole, Terrence. The Cornerstone on College Hill: An Illustrated History of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fairbanks. University of Alaska Press, 1994.
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- Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG): Beaver Village, Birch Creek Tribe, Circle Native Community, Native Village of Fort Yukon, Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government (also known as Arctic Village and Village of Venetie).
- Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC): Allakaket Village, Alatna Village, Village of Anaktuvuk Pass, Chalkyitsik Village, Village of Dot Lake, Native Village of Eagle, Evansville Village (also known as Bettles Field), Galena Village (also known as Louden Village), Healy Lake Village, Hughes Village, Huslia Village, Village of Kaltag, Koyukuk Native Village, Manley Hot Springs Village, Native Village of Minto, Nenana Native Association, Nikolai Village (Edzeno’ Native Council), Northway Village, Nulato Village, Rampart Village, Native Village of Ruby, Native Village of Stevens, Native Village of Tanacross, Telida Village, Native Village of Tetlin.
- Tanana Tribal Council: Native Village of Tanana.
- Other places in the Interior Service Area not Federally Recognized as Tribes: Alcan, Anderson, Big Delta, Canyon Village, Central, Chatanika, Chicken, Clear, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Fox, Indian River, Kokrines, Lake Minchumina, Medfra, North Pole, Salcha, Tok, Toklat, Tolovana, Wiseman, Wood River.