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Wasilla, Alaska
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    (1917- )
    Incorporated: February 26, 1976
    6th-largest city in Alaska
    Seat in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough ('Mat-Su Valley')
    Population: 8,621 (as of the 2013 census)
    Home to The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry (est. 1967)
    Came under international scrutiny as the hometown of former Mayor Sarah Palin when she was selected by Sen. John McCain as his vice-presidential running mate (2008)
    Its name was widely mocked as a hotbed of provincialism (sounding like 'Wa-Silly').
    A statewide initiative to move Alaska's capital from Juneau to Wasilla was defeated by 116,000 to 96,000 votes (1994).
    It was the original starting location for the historic Iditarod race until the effects of climate change (vastly reducing the area's amount of snow) forced organizers to elect a permanent new vantage point.
    For most of its existence, it has less been a 'small town' than a census-designated exurban province.
    One city planner even recalled moving to there in the early 80s, and 'getting lost looking for the town... only to find out I was [already] in the town.'
    Its economic growth was spurred by a controversial $27 million earmark lobby (although they only received $7.95 million) and the building of a high-cost Sports Complex (which came with a lawsuit alleging eminent domain abuse).
    It trademarked the 'proud to be valley trash' slogan that has appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts (which its former Mayor even posed in).
    Post-2008, it became the setting for a handful of reality shows. One focusing on the local beauty salon ('Big Hair Alaska') didn't last 3 episodes and one detailing Levi Johnston's run for mayor never got off the ground.
    It is named after a revered Denaina Athabascan leader, Chief Wasilla, whose name translates roughly as 'breath of fresh air.'
    It started out as a way station for gold miners.
    It experienced a population boom after the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay.
    It was home to 'the mother of the Iditarod,' Dorothy G. Page, and - despite no longer being its starting point - is home to several historical landmarks related to the race.
    The 'valley trash' meme originated when a Wasilla resident was insulted by Alaska state Senate president Ben Stevens, during a heated exchange over corruption allegations.
    It didn't even have a shopping center until the mid-nineties (before that, residents had to commute to Anchorage to do make purchases).
    The city's finally acquiring a Wal-Mart was a big enough deal that two resident employees opted to get married in one of the aisles (then-Mayor Palin presided).
    It was descended upon by an army of reporters, lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers after the news of Palin's selection broke, tearing through the city to dig up any dirt on the woman.
    It was Google Mapped continuously by bloggers trying to disprove the assertion that 'she could see Russia from her house,' when she never claimed such a thing to begin with (she was referring to two islands located in the middle of the Bering Strait).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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