Tacoma (təkōˈmə) [key], city (1990 pop. 176,664), seat of Pierce co., W Wash., on Commencement Bay and Puget Sound at the mouth of the Puyallup River; inc. 1884. It is a major seaport and railroad terminus and one of the chief industrial cities in the Northwest. Once known as the lumber capital of America, it is still an important center for forest-products industries, with a growing high-technology sector and diversified light and heavy manufacturing. There are also shipyards and many docks.
Points of interest include Point Defiance Park, containing a zoo, an aquarium, a Japanese garden, and a reconstruction of Fort Nisqually (1833); an arboretum; a number of art galleries; and the state historical society museum. Tacoma is the seat of the Univ. of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran Univ., and a campus of the Univ. of Washington. A project begun in the 1990s has gone far to rehabilitate the downtown waterfront and is highlighted by the dramatic Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art (2002). The Tacoma Art Museum (2003) and the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center (2004) are also part of the project. A lilac festival is held annually in the city.
Tacoma is the gateway to Mt. Rainier National Park and many recreational areas. The Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge links the city with the Olympic Peninsula; it replaced "Galloping Gertie," which collapsed (1940) in a windstorm four months after it opened. McChord Air Force Base, Fort Lewis (a major army training center), and Camp Murray (the state national guard headquarters) are nearby.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.