Great Land of Alaska

1964 Good Friday Earthquake

On Good Friday of 1964, a disaster struck Southcentral Alaska. A 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck Alaska and seriously damaged or destroyed many Alaskan communities, either from the shaking or from the resulting tsunami.

Downtown Anchorage

4th Avenue ripped in half

The north side of 4th Avenue has sunk about 11 feet (3.4 meters).

(Picture credit: UPI)

Downtown Anchorage

Pedestrians dodging debris

Several pedestrians duck out of the way to avoid debris from the collapsing JC Penny building.

(Picture credit: Wide World)


Large cracks in ground between houses

Huge cracks have broken up this northwest Anchorage neighborhood.

(Picture credit: Stan Wayman for Life)

Turnagain Heights

Neighborhood slid into ocean

Sandy ground liquefied in the shaking, causing an 8,000 foot by 1,200 foot (2,438 meter by 366 meter) block of land to slide into the waters of Knik Arm.

(Picture credit: Richard Schlecht—Steve McCutcheon)

Seward Highway

Cracks in the highway

Split in half, this portion of the Seward Highway near Portage is impassible.

(Picture credit: Earthquake Engineering Research Library, California Institute of Technology)


Buring oil tanks in Seward

As if the damage from the quake and resulting tsunami wasn't enough, Seward was further damaged by oil tank fires lit by the earthquake.

(Picture credit: U.S. Army Crops of Engineers Photo)

Seward train yard

Wrecked trainyard

Seward's train yard lies in ruins, victim of the killer tsunami that struck in 1964.

(Picture credit: Stan Wayman for Life)

Sherman Glacier

Landslide over glacier

The earthquake caused the large, pointed peak in the upper right corner of the leftmost picture (subsequently named Shattered Peak) to shear off, covering three square miles (4.8 square km) of Sherman Glacier with rubble.

(Picture credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

40 Years Later

Downtown Anchorage

4th Avenue today

Today, you'd never know that this area was once ripped in half.

Seward Highway

Modern highwy

The Seward Highway near portage as it appears today.


Dead trees Crumbled house rooftop Collapsed garage Collapsed garage Crumbling house Rusted truck

Nearly destroyed in the 1964 quake, the old townsite of Portage was abandoned. The few remaining buildings, further damaged by time and the elements, are slowly disappearing among the new marshy growth of what was once dry ground. Trees that once grew here are now now a bunch of dead trunks, killed by the marsh that was created when the land sunk.

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