The doors in question belonged to the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, known to most as simply The Tunnel. For as long as “Whittier, Alaska” had appeared on a map, The Tunnel had been the only land route in or out of town, unless you counted hiking straight up over Portage Pass and down in Portage Valley, which most people didn’t. That old hole at the far end of town, burrowed through the length of Maynard Mountain, was the source of much mythology and consternation. The tunnel provided welcome isolation but was also a headache and then some. Trains ran through the tunnel from Whittier to Anchorage only every few days on irregular, unpredictable schedules. After the last train left, metal gates barred both entrance and exit. Whittier was an island until the next train came.
City Under One Roof is a documentary project in photographs, writing and archival materials about the town of Whittier, Alaska. A former World War II military base, Whittier is accessible by land only through a 2.6-mile-long tunnel, which until 2000 could only be traversed by railroad. Today most of the community's 200 residents live in one of two enormous buildings, remnants from the former base, and drive through the single-lane tunnel on an alternating schedule: in on the bottom of the hour, out on the top.
I lived in Whittier from July 2013 to June 2014, photographing, interviewing and writing about land use and community development for the regional newspaper, the Turnagain Times. City Under One Roof was awarded the 2013 Dorothea Lange - Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies and a project grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum. AmericanPhotoMag.com named the fall 2014 City Under One Roof exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies one of the 5 best photography shows of the season. City Under One Roof has been featured in High Country News online, Gizmodo, Juxtapoz, Business Insider, and Satellite Magazine, among others.