Barrow is the economic, transportation and administrative center for the North Slope Borough. Located on the Chukchi Sea coast, Barrow is the northernmost community in the United States. Traditionally, the community is known as Ukpeaġvik, “place where snowy owls are hunted.” Barrow was incorporated as a first-class city in 1959.

An important historical site in the area is the Birnick archaeological site which contains 16 dwelling mounds of a culture believed to have existed between 500-900 AD. The archaeological findings are considered a key link between the prehistoric cultures of Alaska and Canada.

During the 1940s and 1950s the military played an influential role in the area. Construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) system and exploration in the Naval Petroleum Reserve brought new people to the region. During the same time, the Naval Arctic Research Lab (NARL) was built near Barrow.

Visitors to Barrow will arrive at the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport. This airport was named to commemorate Will Rogers and Wiley Post who died in an airplane crash just 15 miles south of Barrow in 1935. The Will Rogers and Wiley Post Monument sits across from the airport.

Population and Economy

The largest city in the North Slope Borough, Barrow is home to 4,933 residents (as of 2015), of which 63 percent are Iñupiat Iñupiaq. Although Barrow is a modern community, subsistence hunting, fishing and whaling are still very important to the local economy. Many residents who work full- or part-time continue to hunt and fish for much of their food.

In 2014, the public sector employed 55 percent of all workers. Other employers include the numerous businesses that provide support services to oil field operations as well as state and federal agencies.

Quality of Life

Most Barrow homes are heated by natural gas from nearby gas fields, and have modern water and sewer systems. Utilities are available through Barrow Utilities and Electric Cooperative, a local member-owned cooperative, which offers electric power, natural gas, and water and sewer services. Water is also delivered by a privately owned company to homes beyond the piped distribution system. The NSB provides trash pick-up free of charge.

The community is served by several churches, elementary, middle and high schools and a post-secondary education center, Ilisaġvik College. On evenings and weekends, the high school’s swimming pool, weight room and gym are open to the public. Residents also use Barrow’s Piuraaġvik, or recreation center, which boasts a gym, racquetball courts, weight room and sauna.
Communications in Barrow include phone, mail, a public radio station and cable TV station. The community has three hotels, several restaurants, a dry cleaners and a bank. Barrow has a large grocery/merchandise store and several convenience stores. Barrow bans the sale of alcoholic beverages. Diesel, propane, marine gas, aviation fuel, unleaded, regular and supreme gas are available for purchase.

During the summer months, tour operators offer package tours of Barrow and the surrounding area. Visitors might be interested in purchasing such arts and crafts as baleen boats, etched baleen, carved ivory, masks, parkas and fur mittens.

Barrow is served by passenger jet service from Anchorage and Fairbanks. Freight arrives by barge in the summer and air cargo year-round.

Barrow web cam

City of Barrow Native Village of Barrow Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
P.O. Box 629 P.O. Box 1139 P.O. Box 129 P.O. Box 890
Barrow, AK 99723 Barrow, AK 99723 Barrow, AK 99723 Barrow, AK 99723
(907) 852-5211 (907) 852-4411 (907) 852-8633 (907) 852-4460
www.cityofbarrow.org www.nvbarrow.com www.asrc.com www.ukpik.com