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Old 08-23-2015, 08:23 AM
Location: Munich, BY, Germany
14 posts, read 39,491 times
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Whenever you read about Fairbanks, most people seem to complain that it's not so nice, downright ugly, whatever. (Altthough you always seem to find a good share of people loving Fairbanks due to the stuff it actually has to offer, and due to its unique location, being the hub of Interior Alaska etc.)

So I was wondering: What makes Fairbanks so different from other not-so-posh cities down in the Lower 48? I am thinking about towns like, say Cheyenne, WY or Moab, UT, two towns I happened to visit some years ago on a Rocky Mountain road trip. Granted, especially Moab has a lot of things to do around it and some nice National Parks nearby, but I don't remember it being a super-beautiful town in itself. Still, you'd most probably never really encounter all too negative reviews about it. Or about Cheyenne, for that matter.

Is it, because Fairbanks is the second city of AK, so that people expect more? Or is Fairbanks really so bad? At least from Google Streetview and the tourist pictures provided on the web, I think it might not be a town you wanna visit for a weekend getaway city trip, but it still seems pretty much bearable...
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Old 08-24-2015, 09:54 AM
Location: Deltana, AK
864 posts, read 1,812,069 times
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I'll take the nearly un-zoned industrial sprawl of Fairbanks over the yuppie commercial strip mall that is Moab any day... In answer to your question though, yes Fairbanks is pretty similar to other utilitarian, maybe slightly economically depressed cities all around the western US. It has areas that are really ugly, as well as areas that are fine, at least by aesthetically challenged American standards. I haven't been to Cheyenne, but several cities in Montana feel similar to Fairbanks for sure.
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Old 08-24-2015, 02:10 PM
Location: Anchorage
955 posts, read 833,246 times
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Anchorage, Fairbanks and to some extent Juneau, have more stores than a city with the same population in the lower 48 due to the people coming in to "town" to do shopping sprees from the bush.
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Old 08-25-2015, 02:49 AM
Location: interior Alaska
5,780 posts, read 4,107,783 times
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Some people expect a lot more of the second biggest city in the state, but it's important for potential residents and visitors to keep expectations realistic, and realistically anywhere else Fairbanks would not even qualify as a city. It is kind of grimy and battered, which is partly due to the weather/climate, and partly due to costs of upkeep versus profit margins in the interior. The crime rate is comparatively high for a variety of reasons, but it's not that difficult to mitigate one's risk level by making good decisions. Rents and property values are inflated, although it's not nearly as bad as Anchorage. The shopping is good by Alaska standards, which is terrible by anywhere else's standards, but who cares in the age of Amazon? People also seem perpetually surprised by how difficult the weather is. It's muddy, it's dusty, it's cold, there are wildfires, blah blah. Well, yeah. Welcome to the sub-arctic.

Fairbanks does have a lot of amenities comparative to its size, it has a good university, it's very driveable, and there's a lot of interesting things to do if you're outdoorsy or arty. It has a personality, and it's a good jumping off point for any number of weekend adventures. But it's not a city that will reward someone who expects beauty and entertainment to come to them...you have to seek it out yourself.

I think people are harsher on Fairbanks than some random small city in the lower 48 because they have this mental image of all of Alaska as being something out of a tourism brochure everywhere and always, and it's not, it's a real place with ups and downs.
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:40 PM
1,343 posts, read 1,098,897 times
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Imagine people stuck on the big ice field floating in the Northern ocean. They are more or less civilized, but they are 1) bored 2) cold) 3) their hope of getting out is diminishing. They struggle to survive. They avoid open conflicts, but as soon as someone makes a faux pas, flames explode from under the ashes. This is why you'll never read anything about any conflict in the local newspaper, except murder/rape trials - they try not to escalate. They know each other well, so they trash-talk about everybody with everybody keeping a smile for the good impression, and everybody knows this. It's hard to get out after some time here. Any trip for interview to the lower 48 is cost-prohibitive, especially in winter when Alaska Air monopolizes the market. After 2-3 years in Fairbanks people get used to local "business style attire" - rugged Karhart and T-shirt, and it's difficult to get back on track with looks. There are also everyday risks - if your home burns in the winter, you can't simply put a tent in the yard and start rebuilding. If you have no monety, your home will freese without heating materials. Or you can cut wood yourself - and it's not an easy work. You have to carry warm clothes in your car all the time from October to April. Etc., etc., etc. In the same time, people want to feel good about themselves, so they consider the ability to survive here an achievement (not sure why inability to get to a better place should be counted as one). So the attitude here is kind of a mix of acid and pride. Others will express their opinions that will be much different from mine.
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