A city beyond the fog and under one roof

Photographs of isolation and community in Whittier, Alaska.

  • Staging area for vehicles entering the 2.6-mile, single lane tunnel that is the only land route in or out of Whittier.

    Jen Kinney
  • “Whittier magnifies what people are about” – Brenda Tolman, Whittier resident since 1982, with one of her two pet reindeer.

    Jen Kinney
  • Every summer Whittier’s population swells with seasonal employees, like Darko, Gabe, Jerry and Jeff, who worked a season at the cannery.

    Jen Kinney
  • In the winter, fewer than 200 people remain. The majority live in a 14-story condominium: Begich Towers, a relic of Alaska’s Cold War-era development.

    Jen Kinney
  • Arnie and Charlene Arneson live on their boat in the harbor. “We came in ’64 and fell in love with the community and the people,” said Charlene.

    Jen Kinney
  • Scrappers dismantle the Ushagat, a boat left long neglected in the harbor. As a shipping port and former military installation, Whittier’s landscape is permeated with debris.

    Jen Kinney
  • TiNoi Maae, left, and his wife Ata worked at the cannery for several summers before staying a winter in 2005. Soon after, son Demetrius, right, and three of Ata’s siblings moved to Whittier.

    Jen Kinney
  • Annie Shen and husband Joe have owned the Anchor Inn since 1979. She says she felt confined in Whittier, until Joe reminded her that Prince William Sound is connected to the Pacific Ocean, eventually lapping up on their native Taiwan.

    Jen Kinney
  • With wind that can gust up to 80 miles per hour and annual snowfall that has reached more than 55 feet, it is easy not to leave Begich Towers for days or weeks.

    Jen Kinney
  • Whittier is a vital fishing and shipping port and the easiest route to Prince William Sound from Anchorage. Its strategic location made the road’s construction inevitable.

    Jen Kinney
  • “What I love about Whittier myself is I get to wake up and have mountains in front of me, and the colors when the sun comes up on them, all pink and red, well when the sun does come up that is.” – Gary Carr, resident since 1992.

    Jen Kinney
  • Begich Towers is seen at the left of the frame. Thirteen years after the opening of the road, Whittier still strives to grow and expand. In the works: a new road and land deal that would make private homes possible.

    Jen Kinney