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Alaska Boroughs

The U.S. state of Alaska is not divided into counties, as are 48 other states, but it is divided into boroughs (Louisiana is divided into parishes). Many of the more densely populated parts of the state are part of Alaska's sixteen boroughs, which function somewhat similarly to counties in other states.
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Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska

Fairbanks North Star Borough Education, Geography, and HistoryFairbanks North Star Borough, Administrative Headquarters

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is a borough located in the state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population was 97,581. The borough seat is Fairbanks. The borough's land area is slightly smaller than that of the state of New Jersey.

Fairbanks North Star Borough comprises the Fairbanks, AK Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The borough is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Eielson Air Force Base.

Etymology - Origin of Fairbanks North Star Borough Name

Fairbanks was incorporated as a city and named after a popular Indiana senator Charles W. Fairbanks, soon to become Vice President under Teddy Roosevelt from 1905 to 1909.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

History of Fairbanks, North Star Borough, Alaska

Before Fairbanks was even founded, Koyukon Athabaskans lived, fished, and hunted along the shores of the Tanana River for thousands of years. The Tanana and other rivers also served as trade routes with other Athabaskans and Inuit.

As early as the 1900s, prospectors from the Klondike spread out into various parts of Alaska in search of gold. In 1901 a trader named Captain E. T. Barnette chartered the riverboat Lavelle Young to transport a large load of merchandise to the gold fields near Tanacross. He was forced to disembark near the present site of First Avenue and Cushman Street on the Chena River because the Chena was too shallow to follow further upstream and the Tanana River was not crossable. There Barnette established the trading post "Barnette's Cache." A year later, gold was discovered sixteen miles north of the post. This brought an Italian immigrant, Felix Pedro (born Felix Pedrone), to the Tanana Valley. Outfitters, in turn, sought to make money selling supplies to the prospectors. The town grew as prospectors made their way to the gold fields via the Chena steamboat landing. Barnette, initially unhappy to find himself far from the proven gold fields, nonetheless stayed put when Pedro came to camp to trade. Within a few years, Fairbanks became the largest city in Alaska.

Around 1903, Alaska Territorial Judge James Wickersham moved his offices of the Third Judicial District from Eagle to Fairbanks. In November of that year, Fairbanks was incorporated as a city and named after a popular Indiana senator Charles W. Fairbanks, soon to become Vice President under Teddy Roosevelt from 1905 to 1909. With the addition of the court, government offices, a jail, a post office, and the Northern Commercial Company, Barnette was elected mayor and set about to create a first-rate town replete with telephone service, fire protection, sanitation ordinances, electric lights and steam heat. Barnette also founded the Washington-Alaska Bank. By 1910, the official population had grown to 3,541, although more than 6,000 miners lived and worked their claims on creeks north of town.

The construction of the Richardson Highway in 1900, the Alaska Railroad in 1923, and the use of riverboats along the Tanana River made Fairbanks as a commercial center for interior Alaska.

The Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines opened its doors in College, near Fairbanks, around 1917. The school grew quickly, and in 1935 became the University of Alaska. The University of Alaska system has since expanded to include other campuses and the original campus is now called University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During World War II, two United States military bases, Ladd Field and Eielson Air Force Base, were constructed in the Fairbanks area in 1938 to aid in sending of aircraft and supplies to the USSR and the Russian-controlled Far East for the Lend-Lease program. During the Cold War Ladd Field became a U. S. Army base, Fort Wainwright. These bases brought additional jobs to the Fairbanks area and brought military personnel, some of whom stayed and became residents of the area after finishing their military service. Construction of the Alcan Highway in the 1940s combined to fuel growth and development.

Since the beginning, Fairbanks has been the commercial center for the interior of Alaska. Fairbanks is now at the cross roads of the Richardson Highway, the Alaska Railroad, the Steese Highway, the Elliott Highway and the George Parks Highway, completed in 1975. These connect it to Anchorage, Canada and the lower 48 United States. The Dalton Highway, opened around 1974, and connects to Fairbanks industrial supply center of Deadhorse at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. Fairbanks area has an international airport, two military airports and many private airstrips. Goods are transported to and from Fairbanks by truck, air, and rail.

Fairbanks was the construction hub for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline around 1975 to 1977.

There is a park in Fairbanks built originally for the Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration in 1967 titled Alaska Land. The park is now called Pioneer Park and contains museums, the riverboat Nenana, and many old buildings moved there from around the Fairbanks area. The Palace Theatre and Saloon in the park gives a musical presentation of the history into Fairbanks.

Former city mayor James C. Hayes was the first Africian American (Black) mayor of any city in Alaska. During January 2006, his various businesses and church were investigated by 32 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who were looking for evidence that Hayes and others associated with the church and LOVE Social Services Center Inc. misused federal grant money.


The borough has a total area of 7,444 square miles (19,280 km2), of which 7,338 square miles (19,010 km2) is land and 105 square miles (270 km2) (1.4%) is water

Neighboring Boroughs:

  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska - north
  • Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska - southeast
  • Denali Borough, Alaska - southwest


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