"Wasilla is still a small town of about 7,000 people, but rapid change is altering the character of a place that got its start by the Alaska Railroad tracks as a supplier for gold- and coal-mining operations in the surrounding Talkeenta Mountains.
Its biggest attraction is economic, says state Representative Kerttula. Home prices are cheaper than in Anchorage, and access to the big city is easy. About 30 percent of Wasilla residents commute to work in Anchorage, according to state figures.
The anything-goes attitude is also part of its draw. Many residents boast that they have escaped the stifling regulations and frou-frou trappings of the big city they dismissively call "Los Anchorage."
Such antigovernment attitudes helped launch Palin's political career as a 'hard-core conservative' who resisted controls on business.
'Zoning, you used to be not even able to say the word,' says Michelle Church, former director of a local land-use planning group and now a borough assembly member from Palmer. During Palin's time as mayor, the very idea caused opponents to pack public meetings, she says. 'Every time someone would go up and speak in favor [of zoning], these guys would yell, 'Lock and load!''"
Slate also has a video profile of the town, which portrays it as big-box friendly and extremely rural.