Anchorage was established in 1914 as a railroad construction port for the Alaska Railroad, which was built between 1915 and 1923. Ship Creek Landing, where the railroad headquarters was located, quickly became a tent city; Anchorage was incorporated on November 23, 1920. The city's economy in the 1920s centered around the railroad. Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the city experienced massive growth as air transportation and the military became increasingly important. Merrill Field opened in 1930, and Anchorage International Airport opened in 1951. Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were constructed in the 1940s.
On March 27, 1964, Anchorage was hit by the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday Earthquake, which killed 115 Alaskans and caused $1.8 billion in damage (2007 U.S. dollars). The earth-shaking event lasted nearly five minutes; most structures that failed remained intact the first few minutes, then failed with repeated flexing. Rebuilding dominated the city in the mid 1960s.
In 1968, oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay, and the resulting oil boom spurred further growth in Anchorage. In 1975, Anchorage merged with Eagle River, Girdwood, Glen Alps, and several other communities. The merger expanded the city, known officially as the Municipality of Anchorage. The city continued to grow in the 1980s, and capital projects and an aggressive beautification campaign took place.