Tacoma is a mid-sized urban port city in and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Puget Sound area and the third largest in the state. It also serves as the center of business activity for the South Sound region, which has a population of around 1 million people. Like most central cities, Tacoma suffered a prolonged decline in the mid-20th century as a result of suburbanization and divestment. Since the 1990s, developments in the downtown core include the University of Washington Tacoma; Tacoma Link, the first modern electric light rail service in the state; the state’s highest density of art and history museums; and a restored urban waterfront, the Thea Foss Waterway.
Parks and recreation services in and around Tacoma are governed by Metro Parks Tacoma, a municipal corporation established as a separate entity from the city government in 1907. Metro Parks maintains over fifty parks and open spaces in Tacoma. Point Defiance Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country (at 700 acres), is located in Tacoma. Scenic Five Mile Drive allows access to many of the park’s attractions, such as Owen Beach, Camp Six, Fort Nisqually, and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. There are many historic structures within the park, including the Pagoda, which was originally built as a streetcar waiting room. It was restored in 1988, and now serves as a rental facility for weddings and private parties.
The Museum of Glass boasts an iconic structure standing near the Thea Foss Waterway; the steel cone of the hot shop is one of the most recognizable structures in the city. America’s Car Museum opened in June 2012 and houses Harold LeMay’s collection of rare to common automobiles. LeMay’s collection is one of the world’s largest and the museum holds 500 at a time in rotating displays. Tacoma Art Museum was founded in 1935 and reopened in 2003 in a new building on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma – now one of three organizations forming the “museum district” (others are Museum of Glass and Washington State History Museum). It is considered a model for mid-sized regional museums.