Most diverse place in America? It's not where you think

Story highlights

  • The Mountain View neighborhood in Anchorage scores high on diversity
  • Affordable housing once used by oil pipeline workers now shelters all sorts of newcomers
  • The area is hardly the stereotype lower 48 Americans have of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska (CNN)The shelves at the Red Apple Market are a giveaway. Dried squid. Sambal Olek chili paste. Corned Australian mutton. Canned grass jelly.

Another clue: Ride the crowded No. 45 bus, which meanders down Mountain View Drive, and you hear chatter in seven languages -- none, English.
    That these markers of diversity are in a neighborhood in Anchorage may surprise folks from the Lower 48 who picture Alaska as a largely homogenous and snowy American extremity. But Alaskans are quite proud of their distinctive demographics.
    Remember Sarah Palin's much-parodied 2008 interview with Katie Couric? One segment ended with this line: "Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."
    Palin was taken to task for her claim because Alaska's black and Latino populations are lower than the national average.
    And yet ...
    Mountain View, a northeast Anchorage neighborhood, boasts the most diverse census tract in all of America. That's according to University of Alaska sociology professor Chad Farrell, who analyzed the census dat