What keeps Fairbanksans here? Why Fairbanks? The "tough Alaskans" myth has a lot of truth to it. But besides that, Fairbanksans are a friendly and engaging group of people. We are unbelievably diverse in our interests and activities. I think you'll like us.
Want to know what we do for a living in Fairbanks? Click here! Want to know what we do for entertainment and adventure in Fairbanks? (duh! that is what this whole site is about!)
Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska, and you’ll find a genuine, home-town, old-fashioned sense of community. You’ll meet people here who are really are tough Alaskans, independent spirits … people often choose to live here because it is the nature of Alaska to allow (or force?) us to be who we really are. I've noticed that the people who don't like it here usually skeedaddle.... and that's good!
If you hear Fairbanksans complain about the weather, we are probably bragging! It is what it is. "Tough Alaskans" take what comes (and we dress for it!)
We certainly like to debate the issues … just listen to a city council meeting on the radio. And we are indeed tough, hardy souls. People in Fairbanks are independent and private; but this can be a pretty harsh land, and many of us are far from our families. Fairbanks Alaska is a “city of wide shoulders” (thanks, Carl Sandberg). There are times when we need to stand together.
I think is why there is so much good, old-fashioned, neighborly support. It makes for an active group of friendly people who are tolerant of and interested in each other, and in you when you visit!
I keep saying “Fairbanks Alaska.” I’m really talking about the Fairbanks North Star Borough. That includes Downtown, (the City of Fairbanks itself with a population of 35,000), North Pole, Ester, Fox, Salcha, Chatanika, Ft. Wainwright and Eielson, Healy, and Nenana.
All together our population is nearly 91,000 people. We are spread out over the Interior of Alaska, and each village and town has its own character ~ and a lot of pride. Eventually I’ll have pages abonut each of those places, written with a lot of help from the folks who live there.
But I am a Fairbanksa who lives in Fairbanks. And your winter adventure vacation will probably bring you right where I live! They do call this town “the hub," the economic and transportation center of the Interior. Alaskans fly in and drive from villages and towns in the bush and all over Northern Alaska for services and to shop ~ in recent years we’ve gained some big-box stores but don’t count on any Super-Malls for shopping!
People come to be part of traditional Native Alaskan cultural festivals and sporting activities and to do other fun things while they are here.
What do people do for a living in Fairbanks Alaska?
Mining - Gold! Everyone wants to hear about gold mining. Oone of the nicknames for Fairbanks is "The Golden Heart City," not only because we have hearts of gold, but because there really is "gold in them thar hills!"
Mining and related services are what brought crowds to Fairbanks Alaska over 100 years ago. And gold is still are one of the biggest employers! Fort Knox Gold mine, out in Fox, employs over 900 people when you consider indirect support services. You’ll meet "Fairbanksans" who live in towns of Ester, Fox, and Chatanika. Those towns started out as small mining operations in the early 1900s and then diversified. To tourism!
Tourism: Tourism is one of the Interior’s biggest employers. That’s one reason we are so glad to meet you when you get here!
One thing to note about that phrase, “biggest employers…” It doesn’t mean that we have a bunch of huge corporations devoted to tourism. Most of the coolest touristy things to do are run by small, family owned businesses. Many of the adventures and activities that I’ll point you to for the best vacations experiences are mom and pop businesses that only employ a few people. They are proud of their Alaskan lifestyle and want to share it. You’ll have a good time getting to know them ‘cause they have such a good time getting to know you!
Military:You’ll meet lots of military families in the Interior ~ an amazing number of Army and Air Force families come kicking and screaming “Alaska! No way! I can’t go to that giant refrigerator! Everybody ” … then after their first tour, they not only beg for reassignment, they retire here! Almost 50% of the people in the Interior are employed by the military, or the federal, state, and local government.
For example, there is the All-Alaska-Gas-Pipeline that will run alongside the oil pipeline; a fish hatchery planned for the Chena River; the huge Cold Climate Housing Research Center; and the new Airport Expansion project.
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is another big employer. UAF sits on “the hill” and looks out over the Tanana Valley, the Alaska Range and our micropolis of Fairbanks. UAF was the pioneer of higher education in Alaska almost 100 years ago. It is a land-sea-and space-grant institution with over 150 degree programs and 6000 students! Not to mention 35 miles of ski and bike trails! UAF is also a great place for learning about Alaskan Culture and the Arts.