Great Alaska Earthquake photograph collection, March 27, 1964  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Great Alaska Earthquake photograph collection
March 27, 1964 (inclusive)
28 photographic prints (various sizes) in 1 box
Collection Number
Photographs of the damage caused by the Great Alaska Earthquake, primarily in Anchorage, as well as in Portage, Seward, and Whittier
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries' Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials curator is required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.


Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Called alternately the Good Friday Earthquake or the Great Alaska Earthquake, the earthquake that shook Alaska on Friday, March 27, 1964 was the most powerful recorded earthquake in North American history. The five minute-long earthquake caused extensive damage due to ground failure, landslides, and a tsunami. The earthquake and the effects it produced was directly responsible for 115 deaths. This relatively low number can be attributed to the sparse population of the area and the fact that the quake occurred when most people were at home.

Anchorage, 75 miles northwest of the quake's epicenter, sustained severe damage. Building facades crashed into the street and sections of Fourth Avenue dropped down over 10 feet. About 30 blocks of dwellings and commercial buildings were damaged or destroyed in the downtown area. Some schools were almost decimated. An area of about 130 acres was devastated when the ground collapsed and tilted at all angles and a landslide destroyed about 75 houses. Water mains and gas, sewer, telephone, and electrical systems were disrupted through the area. Earthquake damage was heavy in many other towns, including Chitina, Glennallen, Homer, Hope, Kasilof, Kenai, Kodiak, Moose Pass, Portage, Seldovia, Seward, Sterling, Valdez, Wasilla, and Whitter.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Photographs of the damage caused by the Great Alaska Earthquake primarily in Anchorage, as well as in Portage, Seward, and Whittier.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Downtown AnchorageReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/1 1
 Collapse of Fourth Avenue near C Street
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
Fourth Avenue subsided 11 feet from its former level. Image shows the D&D Bar and Café, the Sportsman's Arcade, the Frisco Bar & Café, the Pawn Shop, the Scandinavian Club Bar, and Sam's Liquor Store.
March 27, 1964
1/1 2
 Fourth Avenue collapse from the opposite side
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
Image shows Mac's Foto-Cameras, the Frisco Bar & Café, The Sportsman's Arcade, the D&D Bar and Café, Pioneer Loans, Koslosky's Store for men, and the Hobby store. The tall building in the distance is the Anchorage-Westward Hotel.
March 27, 1964
1/1 3 March 27, 1964
1/1 4
 Man crawling out from front of the Denali Theater and Restaurant on Fourth Avenue
Anchorage Times (photographer)
The Denali Restaurant dropped below street level.
March 27, 1964
1/1 5 March 27, 1964
1/1 6
 Collapsed Four Seasons Apartment building
The Four Seasons Apartment building was under construction at the time of the earthquake. The reinforced concrete stairwell and combined elevator core fractured at the first floor and toppled over onto the rubble of the other six floors and roof. Fortunately, there were no casualties, as the construction workers had left the building 35 minutes before the earthquake.
March 27, 1964
1/1 7
 Crane and men in front of the J.C. Penny store
Following the earthquake, this building was completely razed and a new, larger building was built.
March 27, 1964

Anchorage and VicinityReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/2 8
 Damage to the Government Hill Elementary School
Showing the difference between the former ground level--the higher part of the building--and the new ground level of the south wing where it sank.
March 27, 1964
1/2 9
 Wreckage of buildings destroyed in area between 3rd and 4th Avenues
The tall building on the left is the Anchorage-Westward Hotel. The smaller building to its right is the Turnagain Arms Apartments.
March 27, 1964
1/2 10
 Cracks in 8th Avenue and L Street
The building in the upper left served as emergency facilities following the earthquake
March 27, 1964
1/2 11
 Automobiles and houses near the collapsed section of L or N street
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
March 27, 1964
1/2 12 March 27, 1964
1/2 13 March 27, 1964
1/2 14
 Woman standing in the doorway of a damaged house in the Turnagain neighborhood
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
The house and swing set in the upper right stands at the original ground level.
March 27, 1964
1/2 15 March 27, 1964
1/3 16 March 27, 1964
1/3 17 March 27, 1964
1/3 18
 Wreckage in the waterfront area of the Turnagain neighborhood
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
March 27, 1964
1/3 19
 Damaged street and building, possibly in the Turnagain area
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
March 27, 1964
1/3 20-21 March 27, 1964
1/3 22 March 27, 1964
1/3 23 March 27, 1964

Elsewhere in AlaskaReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/4 24
 Ruins of the Portage Inn and cracks in the ground at Portage
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
March 27, 1964
1/4 25
 Wreckage in the harbor area in Seward
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
March 27, 1964
1/4 26
 Collapsed Twentymile River bridge on Seward Highway near the Turnagain Arm on Cook Inlet
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (photographer)
The bridge fell into the river and some of the wood piles were driven through the reinforced concrete deck.
March 27, 1964
1/4 27-28 March 27, 1964

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Alaska Earthquake, Alaska, 1964--Photographs
  • Buildings--Earthquake effects--Alaska--Anchorage--Photographs
  • Elevated highways--Earthquake effects--Alaska--Photographs
  • Streets--Earthquake effects--Alaska--Anchorage--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Anchorage (Alaska)--Photographs