University of Washington - Tacoma
The University of Washington has an important branch campus in downtown Tacoma. It's close to the art museum, the Union Station, the Glass Museum - and a convenient rapid transit station.
I was impressed with the way that the planners of the campus have integrated old and new buildings in a sensitive manner.
Rainwater Preservatory Mechanical Sculpture
Located on the southeast corner of the SoundTransit Tacoma station (if East E Street and East 25th Street, on the north side of Freighthouse Square, actually intersected, this sculpture would be on the northeast corner of the intersection) you will find a rather eccentric sculpture machine, which involves two glass enclosures, a water wheel powered by rainwater coming from the roof of the Tacoma Station, and a contraption that appears to involve electric magnets and steel ball bearings.
At least a few of the parts of the contraption appear to be made from recycled materials. For example, the water wheel is made from old glass jars.
Several signs near the contraption refer to the device as "The Preservatory" but I was unable to find anything that gives the complete name of this devide. The flow chart built into the side of the device suggests that it is only possible to see it operate at the top of every hour, if it is not raining. As it wasn't raining, and wasn't near the top of the hour, I was unable to observe the Preservatory in action.
Unfortunately, either the machine has not worn well over time, or it doesn't work that well when there isn't much rain. I stayed and watched for it to go to work on September 15, 2010, and while the wheel turned slightly (not much, as the water didn't hit the jars very well) and the big electric magnet came down and touched the steel ball bearings, not much else happened. The ball bearings didn't seem to want to stick to the giant electric magnet.
Old Town Dock
Located north of the intersection of Ruston Way and McCarver, the Old Town Dock is a location now intended for people to arrive by boat and tie up to visit the parks along this part of Tacoma's water front. It is also a place to fish and otherwise enjoy accessibility to the water provided by this relic of Tacoma's past.
In 2008 the dock was closed for a period due to structural decay, but as you can see from this May of 2010 photograph, the dock is now open.
The views from here are good, and the length of the dock gets you away from the traffic noise of Ruston Way to some extent.
How to Get Here: there is parking along Ruston Way in several parking lots. The nearest bus route is #13 at McCarver & 30th. You will have to walk about 1 1/2 blocks north on McCarver. The official address is 2201 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98407
This is one of the several waterfront parks that is connected by the Ruston Way walkway. Please see that tip for more information on this walkway and the nearby parks which are connected to it.
Chambers Bay: Sound View Loop Trail
This is part of the series of tips about Pierce County's Chambers Bay Facility, which contains a huge number of different features. My main tourist tip about this facility is located at
and there are links from there to the various tips that discuss the sub-pieces of this wonderful park, golf course, trail, beach, and educational facility.
There is a paved loop trail that completely encircles the Chambers Bay Golf Course, and provides spectacular views of Puget Sound, and naturally is thus called the "Soundview Trail" for these vantage points. This is a popular walking and biking trail, does not have any significant road crossings other than the various local interior park roads, and is a fairly good recreational pathway. This path has been separated into two separate sections for reference purposes: the Sound View Trail, which starts and ends with steep hills, and the Grandview Trail, which runs along the top of the hillside.
This means that the Sound View Trail starts and ends with very steep hills that run between the trail at the top of the hill and the section of the trail that runs along the base of the hill. Even in locations where switchbacks have been used to lessen the incline, the hill is very steep. Many people, even very fit bicyclists by all appearances, can be seen walking their bikes up these spectacular hills. They are steeper than 10% in places.
The trail is separated from the golf course for most of its length, but the section of the trail that runs along the water at the bottom of the hill runs through the last several golf course holes. It is separated from the holes by the shape of the land, but there is still some risk of being hit by stray golf balls if you walk through here. There are signs posted letting visitors know that they walk there at their own risk.
There is one restroom facility and a drinking fountain along the length of the trail, at the bottom of the hill near the "Central Meadow" of the lower park.
The trail connects at both ends to the section of trail that is called the "Grand View Trail" which completes the loop around the entire Chambers Creek Golf Course, with the complete loop being 3.25 miles (5.42km) in length.
How to Get Here: Please see my general Chambers Bay tip, which is located at
as it is somewhat complicated.
Coffee, breakfast @10AM, music, breakfast @10PM
Coffee House Yes, but it's also a lot of other things cause it's a neighborhood hangout more than anything. It looks like a recycled deli with lots of vintage finds for the booths and tables and local advertisements posted could be wallpaper. They also like to show publicly there dislike for Mr. Bush through comic strips, so if your not a hippie sympathizer or like clean trim you might want to get your coffee to go.
But that would never be an issue cause this place is host to good food for the meat eating sort and the leaf eating kind. Coffee, Bagels, Pastries, heavy breakfast, cold lunch, hot dinner and big portions. The meaning of Shaka-Brah is hangloose-Brother so why not? I jump in here for anything really - a coffee with bagel (I was a New Yorker) or an afternoon BLT; just in case (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato) Sandwich.