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Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks is a city located in Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 30,224 and the population of the entire Borough numbers approximately 83,000.

Fairbanks is the largest city in the interior region of Alaska. Nearby College is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the oldest college in Alaska.



Location of Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks is located at 64°50'17" North, 147°43'35" West (64.838092, -147.726378).

Fairbanks in located on the north and south shores of the Chena River, near its confluence with the Tanana River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 84.6 km² (32.7 mi²). 82.5 km² (31.9 mi²) of it is land and 2.1 km² (0.8 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.48% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 30,224 people, 11,075 households, and 7,187 families residing in the city. The population density is 366.3/km² (948.7/mi²). There are 12,357 housing units at an average density of 149.8/km² (387.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 66.67% White, 11.15% Black or African American, 9.91% Native American, 2.72% Asian, 0.54% Pacific Islander, 2.45% from other races, and 6.57% from two or more races. 6.13% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

First monument to the first settlers in Fairbanks, Alaska
First monument to the first settlers in Fairbanks, Alaska

There are 11,075 households out of which 39.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% are married couples living together, 12.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% are non-families. 27.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.56 and the average family size is 3.15.

In the city the population is spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 105.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 108.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $40,577, and the median income for a family is $46,785. Males have a median income of $30,539 versus $26,577 for females. The per capita income for the city is $19,814. 10.5% of the population and 7.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 11.6% of those under the age of 18 and 7.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Before Fairbanks was founded, Koyukon Athabaskans, lived, fished, and hunted along the shores of the Tanana River. The Tanana and other rivers also served as trade routes with other Athabaskans and Eskimos.

In the early 1900s, prospectors from the Klondike spread out into various parts of Alaska in search of gold. This brought an Italian immigrant, Felix Pedro (born Felix Pedrone), to the Tanana Valley. Outfitters, in turn, sought to make money selling supplies to the prospectors. In the spring of 1902 a trader named E. T. Barnette chartered the riverboat Lavelle Young to transport a large load of merchandise to the gold fields near Tanacross. He was forced to disembark near the present site of First Avenue and Cushman Street on the Chena River because the Chena was too shallow to follow further upstream and the Tanana River was unpassable. Barnette, initially unhappy to find himself far from the proven gold fields, nonetheless stayed put when Pedro came to camp to trade. That summer Pedro discovered gold 16 miles (25 km) north of Fairbanks and the town began to grow around Barnette's trading post. Within a few years, Fairbanks became the largest city in Alaska (Anchorage is larger now), and an important commercial center.

In 1903, Alaska Territorial Judge James Wickersham moved his offices from Eagle to Fairbanks. In November of that year, Fairbanks was incorporated as a city and named after a popular Indiana senator Charles W. Fairbanks, soon to become Vice President under Teddy Roosevelt. Barnette was elected mayor and set about to create a first-rate town replete with telephone service, fire protection, sanitation ordinances, electric lights and steam heat.

The construction of the Richardson Highway in 1900, the Alaska Railroad in 1923, and the use of riverboats along the Tanana River established Fairbanks as a commercial center for interior Alaska.

The Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines opened its doors in College, near Fairbanks, in 1922. The school grew quickly, and in 1935 became the University of Alaska. The University of Alaska system has since expanded to include other campuses and the original campus is now called University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During World War II two United States military bases, Ladd Field and Eielson Air Force Base, were constructed in the Fairbanks area to aid in sending aircraft and supplies to the USSR and the Russian-controlled Far East. During the Cold War Ladd Field became a U. S. Army base, Fort Wainwright. These bases brought additional jobs to the Fairbanks area and brought military personnel, some of whom stayed and became residents of the area after finishing their military service.

Since its beginning, Fairbanks has been the commercial center for the interior of Alaska. Fairbanks is now at the intersection of the Richardson Highway, the Alaska Railroad, the Steese Highway, the Elliott Highway and the George Parks Highway, completed in 1975. These connect it to Anchorage, Canada and the lower 48 United States. The Dalton Highway, opened in 1995, connects Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay near the Arctic Ocean. Fairbanks area has an international airport, two military airports and many private airstrips. Goods are transported to and from Fairbanks by truck, air, and rail.

Fairbanks was the construction hub for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1975-1977.

There is a park in Fairbanks built originally for the Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration in 1967. The park is now called Pioneer Park and contains museums, an old riverboat and many old buildings moved there from around the Fairbanks area. The Palace Theatre and Saloon in the park gives a musical presentation of the history of Fairbanks.

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Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46