GTA 6 City of the Week is a weekly article series here on GTA BOOM. Every week, we will evaluate a different city in the United States, gauging how well it would fit GTA 6 as a setting.
After visiting the very first birthplace of what would later become the United States of America last week, taking us to the east coast area of Hampton Roads, this week we're taking a trip up north to one of the newest territories of the USA: Alaska. As the second most recent state to join the US, with only Hawaii being the newer arrival, Alaska differs from the mainland US in many ways. Today, we'll be looking at the state's largest and most famous city.
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Most people think that Anchorage is the capital of Alaska, which is somewhat understandable since it's by far the best known city in the state, with most people unable to name any other settlement off-hand without looking it up. In fact, the capital of Alaska is the smaller and less famous Juneau, which is located closer to the contiguous USA, down southward.
Anchorage anchors (no pun intended, seriously) the state's largest urban and industrial area. The city has become the state's real hub for economy, tourism, finance and culture, and even politics. Anchorage has almost twice as many state employees living and working in the city than in the capital.
Anchorage is the largest city in the state by far, with almost 50% of the entire state's population living in either the city or the metropolitan area around it. That said, seeing as Alaska is the third least populated state in the country, half of the total populace doesn't amount to much. The Anchorage metro area is home to just under 400 thousand souls.
Anchorage lies in the south-central region of Alaska, and is among the northernmost cities of the world. The city is pretty difficult to reach via car, however modern infrastructural developments have made it somewhat simpler. Only a small fraction of the city's administrative area is urban, seeing as much of the Chugach State Park falls within the borders.
The city is a major hub for transports, both commercial and mercantile, as it's geographical location puts in the unique position of being but 9 and a half hours by flight from more than 90% of the globe's industrial areas. Flights of all kinds stop in Anchorage for refueling, and one of FedEx's largest hubs is located here, making it a critical part of the global air-freight network.
Anchorage's ports are also extremely busy. With oil, fish and other natural resources being among Alaska's major exports, Anchorage's ports are busy with ships taking these goods to other nations, or transporting it to the mainland USA. Incoming goods are also plenty in Anchorage, as the city's port receives over 95% of all goods coming into Alaska overseas.
As mentioned before, Anchorage's - and all of Alaska's - economy stands on the pillars of fishing, oil and other natural resources. Much of northern Alaska is dominated by mining communities and such, with countless pipelines all leading back to Anchorage. Fishing takes place all across the state's waters, and the ships all come back to Anchorage to drop off their cargo.
The city also has a major military presence. Three military installations comprise Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and over 8,500 people are in the employ of the military. Add to that their families, and that makes up nearly 10% of the city's population. The importance of the bases grew during the cold war due to the proximity of the then-Soviet Union, and they have been prominent ever since.
In terms of geography, Anchorage is pretty much perfect for a GTA game. It's almost an island already, and has all the other criteria down too. Wilderness? Check. Other settlements nearby? Check. Interesting natural formations? Check. Varied landscape? Check. It also has a military presence with the joint base, has a busy port and airport.
To turn it into a GTA map, all Rockstar needs to do is extend the Knik river to the southeast, cutting off a sizable peninsula and turning it into an island. The city would be placed near the northern side of the map, with the wilder regions stretching to the south, making it an upside-down version of GTA 5's rendition of San Andreas.
An interesting mechanic could be implemented with the tides, as depending on whether or not the tide is in or out, much of the landscape around Anchorage changes. Take the Cook Inlet, for example - when the tide is out, the mudflats become exposed, offering a different view, and making the area inaccessible with even the smallest boat. Certain collectibles may be hidden in areas which are covered in water during high-tide, but exposed during low-tide.
The cityscape doesn't resemble that of your typical American metropolis, however that is to be expected seeing as this is one of the smallest cities we've looked at in this series. Anchorage is home to Alaska's tallest building, and even that it pretty tame in height.
Anchorage is also known for its diverse schools, and the Anchorage School District is the most diverse in the nation. With all top three most diverse high schools, all top three most diverse middle schools, and all top 19 most diverse elementary schools, even the least diverse school in Anchorage falls into the top 1% on a national scale.
What came as a surprise to me, Anchorage has a really high rate of violent crimes. Then again, when you're surrounded by mountains, ice, boats, and more ice, what is there do to but break the law to pass the time?
In all seriousness, Anchorage suffers from higher violent crime rates than both the rest of Alaska and the rest of the USA. Unfortunately, rape is most characteristic of the city, with forcible rape rates being absolutely out of whack. Anchorage has a rate of 90.9 per 100,000 denizens, while the national average is 27.5.
A serious issue in both Alaska and neighboring Canada is the exploitation of the indigenous population. Racism is still present in these communities, and indigenous women are very frequently targeted.
That said, the murder rate is pretty high compared to other states and cities as well, and sitting well above national averages. Due to the busy ports, smuggling and human trafficking is prominent as well. Like in the case of Hampton Roads, the prominent military presence doesn't do much to dissuade crime.
That said, property crime isn't as prominent, which include vehicular theft. Just a guess, but I think this might be related to the fact that a car won't get you too far in Alaska, so whether you're stealing to use or to sell, it probably isn't really worth all the trouble.
In spite of being the best known and largest city in Alaska, Anchorage isn't exactly an iconic city. It doesn't have too many internationally recognized man made landmarks or buildings. Granted, the city is something of a tourist attraction, however this is a relatively new development, so it hasn't spread the city's fame globally yet.
That said, the landscape comes to Anchorage's rescue, so to say. Few major cities in the USA are located in an area with the kinds of geographic markers that southern Alaska exhibits. As such, the wilderness area of the map and the surroundings of the city would tip off most GTA players that they're playing in a fictional rendition of Alaska, and thus Anchorage would be the first city that comes to mind.
In any case, some of the most notable landmarks of the city are the Conoco-Phillips Building (the aforementioned tallest tower in all of Alaska), the Port of Anchorage, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Botanical Garden.
An interesting take on a GTA story set in anchorage would be a criminal twist on the goldrush, in a way. The romanticized version of Alaska's history tells tales of hopeful adventurers braving the harsh wilderness in the hope of discovering a new source of wealth.
Rockstar could invent a modern legend about a former criminal kingpin in Anchorage having buried a cache of money and illegal valuables - weapons, preserved drugs, stolen jewels - somewhere in the wilderness around Anchorage in some well hidden location. Three people with criminal pasts, each from a different city (like Liberty City, Los Santos and Vice City, for example) fall upon hard times or are outcast from their homes, and come to the GTA version of Anchorage to search for the hidden treasure.
During their quest to uncover its location, they meet and agree to help each other, splitting the bounty three ways when they find it. Over the course of the story, they would come at odds with local criminal elements as well as the military. Several people throughout the city, such as dirty military officers, high ranking members of the underground and corrupt officials all hold information which alone is of no use, but put together may help uncover the location of the cache.
The protagonists would have to bribe, swindle, fight, extort, steal and lie their way through the tale, getting embroiled in the criminal trappings of the city and its surroundings in order to get the information they need and finally discover the location of the cache.
This would even allow for a multiple-ending setup like GTA 5. Each protagonist might have their own secret deals going on, like one of them plotting with the criminal element of the city against the other two, while the others turn to corrupt military personnel or city officials who all want a piece of the cache.
Pros: Crime rate, geography, story potential, recognition of general area
Cons: low recognition of city itself, low rate of car theft
In spite of Anchorage itself not being too iconic and being pretty small, all other factors check out for its bid to becoming a GTA map. The geography lends itself well to a video game open-world, and also salvages the city's points in terms of recognition. Crime rates are also high enough, even if car theft is kinda low. The story potential offered by the area is also prime.
Would you like to play a GTA game set in and around Anchorage?