Government Hill is aptly named, as the Alaska Railroad, a federal agency, withdrew this neighborhood from general development in 1915, reserving it for housing for government workers. After an initial building spurt, the hill remained largely undeveloped until the 1940s, when the government—the Army Corps of Engineers as well as the Alaska Railroad—again built housing. The housing on Government Hill forms a fascinating textbook of standard-plan and prefabricated housing, most of which is now privately owned.
With high labor costs, short building season, and lack of indigenous construction materials, prefabricated housing was a practical solution to the city's housing shortages. Manufactured housing, so popular today, is part of a long succession of prefabricated construction types, some of which are illustrated on Government Hill.