Jacksonville vs Anchorage: A larger city by land area

With the help of an original founding member, Metro Jacksonville takes a visit to the downtown of a city that's larger than Jacksonville by land area: Anchorage, Alaska.

Published August 3, 2015 in Cities - MetroJacksonville.com

Damage to Fourth Avenue caused by the March 27, 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Collapse of Fourth Avenue near C Street in Anchorage due to a landslide caused by the earthquake. Before the shock, the sidewalk on the left, which is in the graben, was at street level on the right. The graben subsided 11 feet in response to 14 feet of horizontal movement. Photography courtesy of the U.S. Army at http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/show_picture.cgi?ID=ID.

Anchorage is the largest city in the State of Alaska. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (TSAIA) is the world's third busiest airport for cargo traffic, surpassed only by Memphis and Hong Kong. Of interesting note, covering 1,704 square miles, it's also one of the largest in the United States in land area. That's 947 more square miles than Jacksonville, which is the largest city in the continental United States by land area.

The city's downtown was the original site of the Anchorage Land Auction in 1915, which gave rise to today's present-day grid street pattern. Between 1940 and 1951, Anchorage population increased from 3,000 to 47,000, due to a massive buildup of the military because of its strategic location. However, the "Good Friday Earthquake", the second largest earthquake recorded in world history, destroyed much of the city in 1964.

Like Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901, the city came back better than ever. A major reason for this comeback was the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, fueling a modern-day boom as oil and construction companies found their way to the city. In 1975, the city and borough consolidated, similar to what Jacksonville and Duval County achieved in 1968. As of 2002 more than 18,000 people were working Downtown. The largest industries were services, government, and retail. Surface parking lots are a common feature in both downtown Anchorage and Jacksonville. What separates the two is the location of complementing land uses and destinations. The clustering of convention facilities, parks, museums and a shopping mall in the heart of the city, help create a small zone of vibrant pedestrian scale activity. Don't believe us? Take a look for yourself.

Anchorage introduction by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

Tale of the Tape

Downtown Anchorage photography courtesy of http://proceedings.esri.com/library/userconf/proc99/proceed/papers/pap923/p9231.jpg

To help Jaxsons gain a better understanding of the scale of Anchorage, here are a few statistics of the city in relation to Jacksonville:

Jacksonville's (green) consolidated city limits inside Anchorage's consolidated city limits (red).


Anchorage City Population 2014: 301,010 (City); 398,892 (Metro 2014) - (incorporated in 1920)

Jacksonville City Population 2014: 853,382 (City); 1,419,127 (Metro 2014) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Anchorage (11,254)

City Land Area

Anchorage: 1,704.7 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2014)

Anchorage: +4.75%
Jacksonville: +5.46%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Anchorage: 251,243 (ranked 149 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Anchorage: 2,956.4 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2010 to 2014

Anchorage: +9,184
Jacksonville: +31,598

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Anchorage: Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center (2008) - 47,400 square feet
Anchorage: William A. Egan Civic and Convention Center (1984) - 30,534 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Tallest Building:

Anchorage: Conoco-Phillips Building - 296 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Who's Downtown Is More Walkable?

Anchorage: 82 out of 100, according to 2015 walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 72 out of 100, according to 2015 walkscore.com

Next Page: Anchorage Photo Tour

This Downtown Anchorage parking map highlights the location of various downtown attractions and destinations illustrated in Metro Jacksonville's Anchorage photo tour. Map courtesy of the Early Childhood Mental Health Institute.

Delaney Park


Also known as the Park Strip, Delaney Park is the oldest park in the city and named for James Delaney, one of the first mayors of Anchorage. Originally, a "firebreak" and briefly used as an airstrip, the 11-block green space is home to a variety of activities and events. The independent nonprofit, Anchorage Park Foundation, has become an important entity working closely with the city to upgrade park assets.







At 22-stories, the Conoco-Phillips Building is the city's tallest. It houses the regional corporate headquarters of energy powerhouse, ConocoPhillips.


The 20-story Robert B. Atwood Building houses government offices for the State of Alaska. Completed in 1983, the building was formerly known as the Bank of America Center.

Anchorage Civic & Convention District


The $111,000 million, 200,000-square-foot Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center opened in September 2008. The city of Anchorage currently provides three municipal facilities large enough to hold major events such as concerts, trade shows and conventions. Downtown facilities include the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center and the recently completed Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, which will be connected via skybridge to form the Anchorage Civic & Convention District.





Located next to Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is a three-part complex, hosting numerous performing arts events each year.




Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall


The Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall is a four level enclosed shopping center in the heart of downtown. Anchored by the only JCPenney and Nordstrom stores in Alaska, the 447,000-square-foot mall is owned by the Simon Property Group and opened the same year as the Jacksonville Landing (1987).







Anchorage Museum


The Anchorage Museum originally opened as a 10,000-square-foot museum with a staff of two, featuring borrowed Alaska painting and a collection of historic and ethnographic objects in 1968. In 2010, the museum was expanded to its current configuration of 170,000-square-feet. Now with a staff of 50 and a collection of 25,000 objects and 500,000 photographs, it is located across the street from the 5th Avenue Mall.





Historic 4th Avenue


4th Avenue is the historic heart of downtown Anchorage. When the city rapidly increased in population during the 1940s, 4th Avenue emerged as the city's main east-west street. Today, 4th Avenue remains one of Anchorage's most vibrant and walkable mixed-use corridors.






Peratrovich Park


Peratrovich Park surrounds Anchorage's old city hall and is a popular location for concerts and other outdoor performances. The park is named for Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich. Elizabeth Peratrovich was an important civil rights activist credited with advocacy leading to the passage of the first anti-discrimination law in the United States in 1945.





The Hilton Anchorage offers 20,000-square-feet of flexible meeting and event space. Standing 243 feet, the 21-story tower is the city's third tallest building.


Photographs by James Boyle

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-aug-jacksonville-vs-anchorage-a-larger-city-by-land-area-

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