Fairbanks /ˈfɛərbæŋks/ is a home rule city in and the borough seat of the Fairbanks North Star Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska, and second largest in the state, after Anchorage. It is the principal city of the Fairbanks, Alaska, Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, lying less than 120 miles (190 km) south of the Arctic Circle.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross (or Tanana Crossing, where the Valdez-Eagle trail crossed the Tanana River), where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles (11 km) upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River.
The sight of smoke from the steamer's engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni (better known as Felix Pedro) and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
People and culture
The U.S. census Bureau estimates that the population of 2011 in the city was 32,036 people, 11,075 households, and 7,187 families residing in the city. The population density was 995 people per square mile (366.3/km²). There were 12,357 housing units at an average density of 387.9 per square mile (149.8/km²). The ethnic makeup of the city was 66.1% White, 9% Black or African-American, 10% Native American, 3.6% Asian, 8% Pacific Islander. 9% of the population identified as Hispanic or Latino. The population estimate for the Fairbanks North Star Borough was 99,192. The ethnic makeup of the North Star Borough was 78.2% White, 5% Black, 7.2% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander and 6.3% was Hispanic or Latino.
Government and politics
The Fairbanks area is sharply divided politically. The western part of the town centered on the University Of Alaska Fairbanks is Democratic-leaning, while the downtown and the eastern parts near Fort Wainwright are Republican-leaning, and the North Pole area farther east is even more conservative. Thus, many residents have noted that a neighborhood's position on the map of Fairbanks (west to east) mirrors its political orientation (left to right). However, Fairbanks is much more conservative than most mid-sized cities in the US, with even the Democrats being what are known as "union Democrats" (fiscally liberal or moderate, socially conservative).
Facilities and services
City water, sanitary sewer, and electric systems are operated by private entities. Electricity is provided by the Golden Valley Electric Association. The Chena power site has four steam turbines fueled by coal and one oil-fueled electrical generator. Interior Alaska is not connected to the electrical grid of the contiguous United States and Canada, but a transmission line constructed in 1985 connects Fairbanks with power plants in the coal producing area of Healy and the Anchorage area. Fairbanks currently holds the World record for the largest rechargeable battery, which weighs approximately 1,300 tons. The battery was installed to help bridge the gaps that occur during frequent power outages. The battery will provide power for 7 minutes to about 12,000 homes.