Reading » B1 Reading Tests » A town that lives in one building – B1 English reading test
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  • B1 Reading Test

    Read a text about an unusual town in Alaska, and for questions 1 to 6, choose the correct answer.

    A Town that Lives in One Building

    Located in the beautiful state of Alaska, a little town called Whittier is tucked away in a picturesque area surrounded by mountains and the ocean. This hidden gem is hard to reach: the only ways to and from Whittier are either by ferry or through a one-lane tunnel that cuts through the mountains. This tunnel is unique because it is shared by both vehicles and trains, necessitating a precisely managed schedule to accommodate both modes of transportation and both directions of traffic.

    Whittier’s economy thrives on its port, the town’s main source of employment, where cargo ships drop off their containers for rail transportation across Alaska. The town also has a grocery store, a museum, two hotels, and various other job opportunities for all its citizens: police officers, municipal workers, educators at the local school, and marina staff. Tourism has grown over the last few years to become an alternative source of income, drawing visitors to attractions such as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, glacier jet ski tours, and scenic boat excursions that offer breathtaking views of marine wildlife and icebergs.

    But the most fascinating aspect of Whittier is perhaps the fact that nearly all of its 200-odd residents live under the same roof. The Begich Towers, a 14-story building, is more than just an apartment complex; it’s a self-contained town! The harsh winter weather helps to explain the convenience of this unusual way of living. Whittier’s winter months are known for their heavy snowfalls and fierce winds. By having all the necessary facilities and services in one building, the residents don’t have to brave the cold weather every time they need to run an errand or go to church. Not even the children need to step outside to attend school, which is in an adjacent building connected through a tunnel. It’s an ingenious solution that makes life in such an extreme climate much more manageable.

    However, the origins of Whittier’s unique living situation date back to the early last century when the area was chosen for a military base. Shielded by towering mountains and situated by a bay with unfreezing waters, this location offered an ideal strategic position. Initially, wooden camps housed the soldiers, but as the need for more permanent structures grew with the increasing population, two significant buildings were erected: the once largest building in Alaska, the Buckner Building, and the Begich Towers. The construction of the tunnel in the 1940s, intended to provide railway access, marked Whittier’s transformation into an essential cargo and passenger port. After the military left in the 1960s, the Buckner Building was abandoned, and the Begich Towers became the main residential and communal space for the town’s inhabitants.

    Nowadays, Whittier’s residents just need to hop on the elevator to go grocery shopping, visit the police station, or eat ‘out’—though in this case, ‘eat in’ might be more accurate. There’s even a health clinic, which is far from being a hospital but more than enough for minor ailments. In essence, everything the residents may need is a few steps away from their homes. Living in Begich Towers offers a sense of community and convenience that is hard to find elsewhere. The close proximity of homes and businesses fosters a strong bond among the residents. Whether they’re sharing a cup of coffee at the café on the ground floor or attending a community meeting, the people of Whittier have created a unique and supportive environment.

    Whittier might be small, but it’s a remarkable example of adaptability and community spirit. Its single-building town, surrounded by Alaska’s breathtaking landscape, is a testament to human ingenuity and resilience.

    Reading comprehension test

    Page 1 of 6

    1 Which adjective would better describe Whittier?


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