corvi (corivax) wrote,

not all cages of steel

(Day 9)
During WWII, the military built a "secret harbor" at Whittier. They built a building that could house a thousand men, with gymnasiums, shops, and classrooms, the "city under one roof". After the war the harbor was abandoned by the military, but people continued to live there. Not in the "city under one roof" - there aren't enough people anymore, but in a second building, fourteen stories tall, that houses all the city's inhabitants. Most of the rest of Whittier is a huge muddy parking lot, and the harbor, with a few restaurants that cater to tourists. The town is reachable only by a 2.5-mile long tunnel straight through the feet of the mountain.
The old building, abandoned fifty years, is very cool, grey concrete cracked by ice and streaked by rust, icicles and broken windows. There are doors, but they're buried to the lintels in snow. It looks like a haunted house or a mental institution from a movie, gray and silent and secret. I take about a million pictures and fantasize about getting inside it somehow.
Whittier itself, on the other hand, depresses me incredibly. The building all the residents live in is painted in eggshell and taupe, and kids play board games in the lobby in strained, hushed unnatural voices. The parking lots are rutted and muddy, and the tunnel closes sometimes in winter, leaving only mountains to the sky on all sides. There is no way for hope to enter here, or light. The whole town waits like some trap to spring closed.
I am very glad when we leave.
Tags: alaska

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