Tacoma (/təˈkoʊmə/, US dict: tə·kō′·mə) is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Seattle, 31 miles (50 km) northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and 58 miles (93 km) northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to the 2010 census. Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Puget Sound area and the third largest in the state. Tacoma also serves as the center of business activity for the South Sound region, which has a population of around 1 million people.
Tacoma adopted its name after the nearby Mount Rainier, originally called Mount Tahoma. It is known as the "City of Destiny" because the area was chosen to be the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the late 19th century. The decision of the railroad was influenced by Tacoma's neighboring deep-water harbor, Commencement Bay. By connecting the bay with the railroad Tacoma's motto became "When rails meet sails." Today Commencement Bay serves the Port of Tacoma, a center of international trade on the Pacific Coast and Washington state's largest port.
Tacoma was inhabited for thousands of years by American Indians, predominantly the Puyallup people, who lived in settlements on the delta. View from Brown's Point of Mt. Rainier and the Port of Tacoma In 1852 a Swede named Nicolas Delin constructed a sawmill powered by water on a creek near the head of Commencement Bay, but the small settlement that grew up around it was abandoned during the Indian War of 1855-1856. In 1864, pioneer and postmaster Job Carr, a Civil War veteran and land speculator who hoped to profit from the selection of Commencement Bay as the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad, built a cabin (a replica of Job Carr's cabin, which also served as Tacoma's first post office, was erected in "Old Town" in 2000 near the original site), and later sold most of his claim to developer Morton M. McCarver (1807–1875), who named his project Tacoma City. The name derived from the indigenous name for the mountain.
Urban form and transportation
Tacoma's system of transportation is based primarily on the automobile. The majority of the city has a system of gridded streets oriented in relation to A Street (one block east of Pacific Avenue) and 6th Avenue or Division Avenue, both beginning in downtown Tacoma. Within the city, and with a few exceptions, east-to-west streets are numbered and north-to-south streets are given a name or a letter. Some east-to-west streets are also given names, such as S. Center St. and N. Westgate Blvd. Streets are generally labeled "North", "South", "East", or "North East" according to their relationship with 6th Avenue or Division Avenue (west of 'Division Ave' '6th Avenue' is the lowest-numbered street, making it the dividing street between "North" and "South"), 'A' Street (which is the dividing line between "East" and "South"), or 1st Street NE (which is the dividing line between "East" and "North East"). This can lead to confusion, as most named streets intersect streets of the same number in both north and south Tacoma. For example, the intersection of South 11th Street and South Union Avenue is just ten blocks south of North 11th Street and North Union Avenue.
Parks and recreation services in and around Tacoma are governed by Metro Parks Tacoma, a municipal corporation established as a separate entity from the city government in 1907. Metro Parks maintains over fifty parks and open spaces in Tacoma. Point Defiance Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country (at 700 acres), is located in Tacoma. Scenic Five Mile Drive allows access to many of the park's attractions, such as Owen Beach, Camp Six, Fort Nisqually, and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. There are many historic structures within the park, including the Pagoda, which was originally built as a streetcar waiting room. It was restored in 1988, and now serves as a rental facility for weddings and private parties. The Pagoda was nearly destroyed by fire on Aug 15, 2011.
The Museum Of Glass boasts an iconic structure standing near the Thea Foss Waterway; the steel cone of the hot shop is one of the most recognizable structures in the city. America's Car Museum opened in June 2012 and houses Harold LeMay's collection of rare to common automobiles. LeMay's collection is one of the World's largest and the museum holds 500 at a time in rotating displays. Tacoma Art Museum was founded in 1935 and reopened in 2003 in a new building on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma – now one of three organizations forming the "museum district" (others are Museum of Glass and Washington State History Museum). It is considered a model for mid-sized regional museums.
The Broadway Center for the Performing Arts is the home to three theaters, two of which are on the National Historic Register. Performing within the three theaters are several performing arts organizations, including the Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Sinfionetta, Tacoma City Ballet, Tacoma Concert Band, Tacoma Philharmonic, Tacoma Youth Symphony, Theatre Northwest, and Puget Sound Revels, one of ten Revels organizations nationwide.