An Alaska town living under one roof

Published 2021-05-23
The Begich Towers, in Whittier, Alaska, built by the military during the Cold War as a no-frills barracks, is now home to the majority of the isolated town's 300 or so residents. Correspondent Lee Cowan journeyed to Whittier to find out what it's like for virtually the entire population to live at the same address.

"CBS Sunday Morning" features stories on the arts, music, nature, entertainment, sports, history, science and Americana, and highlights unique human accomplishments and achievements. Check local listings for CBS Sunday Morning broadcast times.

Subscribe to the "CBS Sunday Morning" YouTube channel:
Get more of "CBS Sunday Morning":
Follow "CBS Sunday Morning" on Instagram:
Like "CBS Sunday Morning" on Facebook:
Follow "CBS Sunday Morning" on Twitter:
Subscribe to our newsletter:
Download the CBS News app:
Try Paramount+ free:

For video licensing inquiries, contact: [email protected]

All Comments (21)
  • Island Girl
    Bravo to the 18 year old for getting her town noticed.
  • Reyna Brown
    One time we were hit by a winter storm and got stuck in a vacation resort for over a week. It was like this. We each had our rooms “house”. We ate there in their restaurant. We shopped there in their lil store. We’d exercise there in their gym. We’d hang out in the lobby. It was weird. After the storm we all felt sad saying bye to each other. Like, we got used to that lil community.
  • I loved living there during Summer of 1989, during summer break from grad school. I lived in that building and the view was amazing especially when the cruise ships would come into harbor. That was truly one of my favorite summers as I learned so much and had incredible adventures. Thanks so much Whittier for the gifts of Summer of 1989!
  • Sarah Pem
    I would totally live there. Small towns have magic in them, you’re never alone. It’s easier to feel lonely on a city.
  • Steven Attaway
    My wife and I went up and visited Whittier a couple years ago, it was beautiful and the people were so kind. It seems like such a great place to live.
  • rudy2fat
    This town must suck for a teenager. Can you imagine spending your time with the same 3-4 teenagers in the whole school
  • Jeffrey Rojas
    Employee: Sorry I was late for work. There was traffic.
    Boss: we all live and work in the same building! What do you mean?!
  • Caron Stout
    This would be the ideal site for a military vs alien/zombies movie.
  • I grew up in Anchorage.
    I was 7, when I first visited Whittier. I caught my first fish there!
    Beautiful place.
  • E Johnson
    This is actually really smart. No frozen pipes in the permafrost, no commuting through icy roads, heating bills are probably lower than trying to heat each house.
  • ?????????
    I don’t think I personally would want to live here, but I can totally see the appeal for some people, and I’d love to at least visit it some day
  • Alayne Secor
    I have visited this town as part of an Alaska tour. It is strange and beautiful. I would go back again.
  • I've been here. There's another large building in town that they didn't show. A creepy old large abandoned military bunker. You can't miss it.
  • Pamela Mays
    "I had to walk through an underground tunnel to and from school when I was your age!"
    All kidding aside, if the residents are happy and living good lives, kudos to them!
  • Flyingclam
    I love how they glossed over the fact that the railroad company owns all the land, which is why everyone lives in that Building. No one can build anything cause the wont/cant own the land the building would be on. As quirky as that building is, the current property ownership conditions in Whitter will stifle growth no matter the publicity.
  • Eddy B
    As a guy in a wheelchair, this sounds pretty awesome.
  • Tenn-Gran
    My Air Force husband and our family were stationed in Anchorage in the 1970’s. There was no tunnel then, we wanted to see Whittier so we took a train there. The train stayed about 2 1/2 hours before return trip. We had time to look around and have lunch then the 5 of us returned to Elmendorf AFB early evening. Great memory.
  • Bre Sams
    Ugh! No crime, horrible traffic & Nice people. Just wonderful ❤️
  • I organized the Whittier to Whittier trip back in 2000. 10 major educational stops on the net for Whittier California students. Assisted by RC Collin then Mayor. Great trip and destination. Was accomplished with dial up Internet. Cutting edge technology then. Partially sponsored by ESRI Redlands Ca. My son Thomas was the photographer. Came home to college and eventually became Editor for the Orange County Register. 4,000 miles one way. Trip of a life time.
  • Izzy
    When I see stories of remote areas like this I find their softly spoken nature almost intoxicating especially now when so much of our world is in flux.