Alternate History

Metrication in Alaska (Russian America)

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Metrication in Alaska was enacted in 1964 as part of the administration of Vasily Kardash. Prior to the adoption of the metric system, the the Russian unit of measurements were used and retain some degree of use to this day.


As part of the Russian Empire, Russian America used the Russian unit of measurements (which had been in use since the 10th century). The system remained unchanged until the reign of Peter the Great, in which the units were refined to the Imperial measurements and the adoption of the Hindu–Arabic numerals. While standard across Russian America, the use of the Imperial units and the metric system were in relative use (especially within the border regions). Imperial units remained commonly used in the English-speaking regions up until the early 1900s.

With the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and the collapse of the Empire in 1917, Alaska gained independence. During this time, the Eurasian portions of the former Russian Empire (now known as the Soviet Union) began to adopted the metric system, while the Alaskan states retained the Russian units. Despite minor attempts to reform and replace the units early on — including the utilization of the metric system in the Alaskan Socialist Republic and Sonoma and the imperial units in New Albion and Oregon — the Russian units remained in use and were secured upon the unification of the Alaskan Democratic Federative Republic.

As part of his liberal government, President Vasily Kardash enacted measures to adopt the metric system across Alaska. An act of Congress in 1964 established the programs and measures towards metrication. Despite some opposition, the continued control of the Peace Party secured the program to be completed.

The time period between the mid-1960s until roughly the late-1980s is generally noted for the dual use of Russian units and the metric system, with the most obvious sign of this is the use of both units on road signs and speedometers of Alaskan motor vehicles. By the mid-1990s, the dual system had fallen out of need, and Alaska declared themselves fully metric by 2000.

Despite the move towards metrication, the Russian units do retain some legality in Alaska to this day.

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