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Spenard is a neighborhood in the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, United States and was historically a separate city from Anchorage. Spenard maintains the flavor of a separate community today, with "Spenardi Gras" being its primary community celebration that encourages a sense of solidarity and separation from the rest of Anchorage. Spenard is a central focus of bohemian lifestyle practitioners and artists and writers, and is well known for its numerous poetry jams, bicycle parties, and other similar events.
Before unification of the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough in 1975, Spenard was a city in its own right. It is arguably older than Anchorage itself, although records are not clear. Anchorage was founded on Ship Creek during construction of the Alaska Railroad. Spenard began as a lumber camp. The road from the lumber camp to the tent city on Ship Creek was subsequently named "Spenard Road" for Joe Spenard, an owner of the lumber camp. Joe Spenard built a dance hall/resort on the shores of Spenard Lake, which burned down after a brief period of great success. From the beginning, Spenard was the place where Anchorage went to have fun. See: A Brief History of the Spenard District
For years, Spenard contained one of many "red light districts" in the region (other red light districts were found in downtown Anchorage on Fourth Avenue, in Fairview, and in the nearby town of Mountain View). During construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, the City of Anchorage successfully cleaned up Fourth Avenue by literally bulldozing dozens of buildings. However, the proximity of Spenard to Anchorage International Airport resulted in unprecedented growth of bars, nightclubs, prostitution outlets, gambling clubs, and other disreputable businesses, which catered to pipeline workers laden with money after long stints in isolated construction camps. Today, Spenard still features a large number of bars and a somewhat higher rate of drunken crime than the rest of Anchorage, despite extensive efforts during the post-Pipeline era to "clean up" the community.