Whittier, Alaska, is a beautiful location. Known for its glacier, the town also had one other interesting feature. Almost every resident of Whittier lives in the same multi-level building. In addition to this one residence, the town features a post office, a church, a police station, a grocery store, and a few other necessary services. While not every one of Whittier’s 300 residents lives in the main residential building, according to USA Today, about 85 percent of Whittier does.
Although Whittier has been a source of interest online for years, it recently became TikTok famous thanks to 18-year-old Jenessa Lorenz. Not only does her TikTok bio boldly state, “I live in one of the strangest towns,” she also shares video content from Whittier, some videos of which have amassed more than 15 million views and counting!
“I made the video thinking, ‘OK, no one’s going to care about a tiny, tiny town in Alaska.’ The next day, it had millions of views, and I was in shock,” Lorenz told USA TODAY. “Our town’s Facebook group posted my TikTok on their page too.”
Lorenz’s viral video was a Stitch video made in response to another clip by Olivia Snake, another TikTok user. Snake had shared some general information about Whittier, but it was Lorenz who gave TikTok a glimpse into the everyday life of the bizarre small town.
The video opens with a view out of Lorenz’s window. She then explains how most of Whittier’s amenities are located within the same building as the apartment units.
“In this building, there’s a post office, a church, a store, and the building office,” she said. “In the basement of this building, we have a tunnel that runs from this building to the school across the street.”
Now that TikTok users are obsessed – OBSESSED – with Whittier, Lorenz confesses that it is “overwhelming.” Most people simply do not understand how a town of three hundred can all live under the same roof.
Lorenz explained that the main building of Whittier was designed so residents would never have to leave if they didn’t want to. Besides easy access to the grocery store, residents can also take an elevator to the police station. There’s also a church in the basement where Whittier residents gather to worship.
Lorenz, like most young people in this small Alaska town, attended K-12 in Whittier Community School. It’s available by a short walk from the main residence. The school only has about sixty students this year. Lorenz is one of two graduating seniors.
Whittier is located in a remote part of Alaska, reachable by car from Anchorage. There’s a one-way tunnel that takes commuters to Whittier. The direction of the tunnel switches every thirty minutes. People can also get to Whittier by boat.
The main residence in Whittier is called The Begich Towers. Because Alaska Railroad owns 97 percent of the town, there are no single-family homes. The Begich Towers holds more than 200 residents. The remaining residents live in a smaller condo building called Whittier Manor.
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.