Today in 1959, Alaska became the 49th state in the Union.

As we’ve said before on this show, it’s unique in so many ways.

Like how a large part of one community in Alaska all lives in a single 14 story building.

This is the community of Whittier, Alaska, southeast of Anchorage.

Like a nearby glacier, it’s named for the poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

The area was once home to the Chugach people among other Indigenous groups before Russians moved into Alaska.

After that country sold Alaska to the US, miners passed through the land.

Once the US entered World War II, the military realized this would be a great place for a low-profile base.

It had a port and a rail connection, but otherwise it was surrounded by mountains and often covered with fog, so it wasn’t easy to spot.

They built two enormous buildings at the Port of Whittier and several other connected facilities.

In an area where winter weather was a concern for a large part of the year, they wanted to make sure servicemembers could still work and their families could still shop and socialize and send kids to school.

One of those buildings was eventually abandoned, but when the military moved out of the region, a small number of people who intended to stay on and start a town were able to use the structure as a condo.

It’s now known as Begich Towers, and while some Whittier residents live elsewhere, so many of them live in this one building that the community is sometimes called a “town under one roof.”

City hall is there.

So is the police department, and the post office, and the pharmacy, and the gym and a convenience store.

And while the population is only a couple hundred people, Whittier does get plenty of visitors from cruise ships.

There are also a few visitors by rail or even by car, provided they’re willing to wait to use the only tunnel that can accommodate vehicles.

By the way, that tunnel closes every night at 10:30 sharp.

If you’re out too late to get back, you’ll be out all night.

A recent survey by Forbes found 48 percent of respondents say they want to improve their physical health in the new year.

One way to do that is to head to the town of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

To encourage people to be more active, the town has installed kiosks where you can get a free bus ticket if you perform 20 squats in two minutes.

You should probably call first to make sure the deal is still on, though!

Begich Towers, home to about half the population of Whittier, gets a much-needed overhaul (Anchorage Daily News)

Can You Get a Free Bus Ticket by Doing 20 Squats in Romania? (Snopes)

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Photo by Barbara Ann Spengler via Wikicommons/Creative Commons