Barrow, the northernmost community in the United States, is located on the Chukchi Sea coast, 330 miles above the Arctic Circle, 530 air miles northwest of Fairbanks and 725 air miles from Anchorage. It is named for nearby Point Barrow, which was named for Sr. John Barrow, 2nd Secretary of the British Admiralty. The settlement's Inupiaq name is Utqiagvik, "the place to hunt snowy owls."
The climate of Barrow is arctic. The Chukchi Sea is typically ice-free from mid-June through October. Annual snowfall is 20 inches. The daily minimum temperature is below freezing 324 days of the year. Prevailing winds are easterly and average 12 mph. The sun does not set between May 10th and August 2nd each summer and does not rise between Nov. 18th and January 24th each winter.
Barrow's 2011 population was 4,309, according to the 2011 Alaska Department of Labor estimates. The majority of residents are Inupiat Eskimos, who have traditionally depended on subsistence marine mammal hunting, supplemented by inland hunting and fishing for food sources including whale, seal, polar bear, walrus, duck, caribou, grayling, and whitefish.
Barrow is the economic center of the North Slope Borough, the city's primary employer. Numerous businesses provide support services to oil field operations.
Saint Patrick Church at Barrow can boast that it is the northernmost Catholic church in the world. Catholicism took root there in 1954 when the first St. Patrick Church was built from abandoned WW II military salvage buildings, Quonset huts, from a nearby Army base. The makeshift church building served the parish community for nearly 40 years, despite the fact that it was woefully lacking in basics such as running water, toilet facilities and an efficient heating system.
Finally, on Easter Sunday 1992, the last Mass was offered in the Quonset hut church. In the spring of that year it was torn down and construction of the new St. Patrick Church, complete with living facilities for priests, was begun. On Christmas 1992, Midnight Mass was celebrated in the new church even though it was not quite finished. Finally, on Sunday, March 28, 1993, the new church was formally dedicated by then Bishop Michael J. Kaniecki, S.J.
Barrow was served by Jesuit priests for some time. Since the year 2000, the parish has been visited by priests stationed in Fairbanks. Such is still the case.