Downtown Tacoma is Nowhere Near the Freeway
You will find two very distinct types of comments about Tacoma:
1. Downtown Tacoma is a horrible place and no one should ever go there.
2. Downtown Tacoma is a lively and interesting place with some interesting attractions.
The problem is that many people get off Interstate 5 and go into the area around the Tacoma Dome, and think that is downtown Tacoma, and feel they have reached the most terrible place on earth, and can't possibly imagine what the tour books had in mind when they talk about the good things that Tacoma has to offer.
Here is the problem: Tacoma and the peninsula it sits on is shaped much like a very large L. Hold out your left hand in front of you with the thumb pointing out, and you will see the approximate shape of Tacoma. Point Defiance has long been one of the better city parks in the Pacific Northwest, and it is located at the tip of your middle finger. "Old Town" with many small businesses and a small town climate is approximately where your middle knuckle on your index finger is. The theatre and antiques district is approximately where your index finger joins your hand. The central downtown commercial area is approximately where your index finger knuckle is. The industrial area of town is where your thumb is, and is also where interstate 5 passes through town. The Tacoma dome is located approximately where your thumb meets your hand.
See the photograph: Interstate 5 is just visible in the lower right corner. This tiny area is the area where people visit and get their first impression of Tacoma. However the whole rest of the map is Tacoma, and is really nowhere near Interstate 5. At the top left corner you can see the very bottom edge of Point Defiance Park, which is one of the most interesting features of Tacoma. So, it should therefore be clear that people don't get a good impression of what is in Tacoma if they don't get far from Interstate 5.
So, if you don't get very far from Interstate 5, you haven't really gotten very far into Tacoma, and really haven't seen any of the good things that are happening there. You have only seen the industrial district of the town, and that is hardly a place that is tourist ready. There are only two things there worth mentioning: The Tacoma Dome Transit Station (because it is helpful for parking and getting around) and Freighthouse Square (because there are many local shops inside, as well as some national chain stores).
Now, I am not saying that the attractions in Tacoma are worth a stop or not. That I will leave to you to decide for yourself. There are many things here, and many of them are only of minor interest, and there are others that are reasonably interesting.
Just understand that what most people think if they have only seen what is along Interstate 5 really isn't all of Tacoma.
- Road Trip
I was disappointed with the glass bridge!
I was expecting to see glass used in the structure, or shaped to combine with structural elements - it is not. The bridge seems a sort of glass warehouse only wit two interesting vertical elements.
- Arts and Culture
Bing Crosby Historical Society is No Longer Here!!
"Bing" Crosby, one of the leading music recording artists in the mid-20th century, was born in Tacoma in 1903. In 1906 his family moved to Spokane, and so the city of Tacoma really can not lay claim to much of Bing Crosby, other than the house in which he was born.
Soon after "Bing" Crosby died in 1977, the Bing Crosby Historical Society was formed in Tacoma. One of the primary aims of the organization was to purchase memorabilia and establish a museum for Bing Crosby. Possibly, this would include purchasing of the old Tacoma house and converting it into the museum grounds.
Alas, such did not come to pass, and after attempts were made, it was decided this simply was not going to happen without additional help from more people willing to contribute finances and effort.
Thus, in 1993, the Bing Crosby Historical Society folded, and contributed the memorabilia they had collected to Gonzaga University in Spokane. This is really the most appropriate place for the material anyway, as "Bing Crosby" first came to fame in Spokane, and Gonzaga was his alma matter.
However, there are still some tourist maps, even nearly 20 years later, that still show a home for the "Bing" Crosby Historical Society near downtown Tacoma.
Unique Suggestions: Don't come to Tacoma expecting to see much in the way of "Bing" Crosby memorabilia. Gonzaga University has the majority of the old collection. Some of this they have been able to put on display, but some of the rest of it is in storage.
Fun Alternatives: Your best alternatives depend a lot on what you like to do, but if it is raining several other museums exist in downtown Tacoma, including the Washington State Historical Society, the Tacoma Art Museum, and the Museum of Glass.
The Bing Crosby Museum, as it exists today, is a room at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and if you are interested in this artist you should visit Spokane and not Tacoma. The web site below gives a brief description of this display room.
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