Trek to Tacoma and Ruston Way

Okay, so full disclosure here:  I am a native Seattleite through and through and very loyal.  When I grew up here you only passed through Tacoma on the way to somewhere else (usually to grandma’s house) and you did it quickly while holding your nose due to the Tacoma aroma.  (A large pulp mill was the main feature of the city.)

But in the past few years, there have been some wonderful developments in this city to the south including a UW extension campus and some very nice museums.

Today was sunny and we were looking for something to do outside.  We considered the Tulip fields north of Seattle but shunned the terrible traffic we knew we would encounter. (We’ll save those beautiful tulips for a weekday because we can.)

Instead we head to Tacoma and explore Ruston Way, an area we had heard about but never been to. What a pleasant surprise!  It turns out that Tacoma has a very pedestrian friendly waterfront perfect for exploring. We find beautiful views, sculptures, docks and old pilings, under mostly blue skies and with half the number of people (at least) you would expect to find on Seattle’s waterfront.  (Not to mention free parking.)

We stop to get the time from this sundial and found out it was going on noon; it obviously did not spring ahead for daylight savings time.

We get a history lesson when we come across Chinese Reconciliation Park which commemorates the forced expulsion of the Chinese population of Tacoma in 1885.

We walk the winding path in the small park and learn about a very ugly period in our history.   One of the stone plaques reads:

Anti-Chinese sentiment was fueled by a widespread economic depression in the 1870’s that depleted the job market. Anxious to blame someone for their woes, unemployed and frustrated workers made Chinese immigrants scapegoats because of their race, culture, and willingness to work for lower wages. The Chinese became targets of violent rallies, riots and local laws that limited their rights.  National political pressure only encouraged the intolerance of the Chinese people as Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  This was the first U.S. immigration law to single out a specific nationality for discriminatory treatment.”

I marvel at the similarities of today.  Is there nothing new under the sun?

When it’s time for lunch we head up the road and find an entirely different look at Ruston Way.  It is bustling with new development, businesses, lodging, theatres and restaurants.  Children are roller skating and families are riding in surreys.  Clearly it is up and coming.

On our walk we meet a young woman who recently moved from Seattle to Tacoma. Forever the Seattle snob (refer back to my first paragraph) I inquire.  “Really??  Why?”

“We got priced out of Seattle,” was her reply.   “And I’m finding I love it here.”

Okay so she was not a native.  She was originally from Nebraska and had only lived in Seattle the previous eight years.  To her, it was about the same.  Only affordable.  And less crowded.

I’m starting to get it.  I will always love Seattle, but it is no longer the Seattle of my youth. But then, neither is Tacoma.

~  Susanne

20 Comments on “Trek to Tacoma and Ruston Way

  1. Beautiful pictures and very descriptive text! Thank you for sharing. %=”) smiley face with curly hair and dimples

  2. We lived in Tacoma for 12 years, and I enjoyed visiting Seattle (but hated the drive to and through Seattle traffic!), but I never for a microsecond wanted to live there. The density and Seattle chauvinism would wear me down within a day. But any metropolitan area would now. Tacoma has a limited metro area and down-to-earth people. I lived in Houston for six years in the 1970s and I loved it. They know how to handle traffic–they build enough highways to take everyone everywhere. I liked Houston a lot, but was happy to move to Bozeman, Montana. I simply prefer rural to urban areas.

    • I understand. I still think of Seattle as the one I grew up with. And I worked downtown almost 30 years and loved it. But it has changed and the traffic is almost unbearable. We actually live Renton now. But someday I would like to live in a smaller town. We shall see! 🙂

      • Clarkston is small, and within my comfort zone. But your home and garden look so attractive–I thought you probably lived in Madison Park! Renton?! You are so brave!

      • Ha! We moved to Renton almost 8 years ago after living in Seattle forever and really like it. It was a good change for us. We’re fortunate that our house is on a large lot and is pretty secluded. And I do love the garden. Thank you. 🙂

  3. Born in Seattle! I love those Tacoma put-downs but it looks like they could teach Seattle a thing or two about getting an accessible waterfront without so much “process.” sigh.

    • Yes, me too! I get it. The potential for an amazing waterfront in Seattle is there. If only parking was cheaper or transportation easier. I hope it’s not too late.

  4. Susanne, I miss by beloved Seattle dearly! Maybe not the rain so much but all the beauty it brings. It’s so fun to experience the wonder through your eyes. And Tacoma has caught my heart in recent years as well!

    • Hi Lola! It’s great to hear from you! 🙂 I do love this area, even though the rain has been unrelenting this year. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to wake up to sunshine and blue skies every day (is there such a place?) But I don’t know what I would do without the evergreens and mountains and water. I can see us moving to a smaller town someday, but probably still in the Northwest. I think I could do without the crowds, congestion and traffic!

  5. Our move from Central London to a Norfolk village was perhaps the most extreme example of moving away from the ‘big city’ you could imagine. As much as I will always be a Londoner, city living is not good for the elderly. Perhaps when you are a little older, you will make that move to somewhere quieter.
    I looked up Renton, and note it is 11 miles from the center of Seattle. In London, 11 miles would still be more or less in the centre!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • I imagine the move from London to Norfolk was huge.. Renton is more or less a suburb of Seattle, so it wasn’t a significant change for us, other than more house for less money.. and less dense. Still, it feels different than living in Seattle and we like it. When we first moved down here I was still working and commuted to downtown Seattle daily. Now we just go as tourists occasionally during the week ~ good blog material 🙂 ~ but even then the traffic is bad. Maybe we are just taking it in stages and had to try on the concept first. I can see us moving out a bit further next time.. thanks as always for your comment!

  6. Great pictures! Nice to see Tacoma in a new and refreshing light! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Wonderful pictures. I love the Pacific Northwest. Lived in Vancouver, BC for 25 years so spent a lot of time in Seattle and Tacoma. A great post.

  8. The place looks lovely. Beautiful pictures. You had a beautiful and scenic hike 🙂

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