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.