Eye Spy Dougie 17

Tacoma’s tales thunder in my ear.

They truly do and those I’ve shared here over the years barely scratch the surface. Be that as it is, it’s Tacoma’s fascinating and troubling past that inspire today’s Dougie 17.

What better way to express this passionate yet turbulent love affair gone south than to merge two iconic representations of this City of Destiny. First is the Old City Hall, just up the hill from these port waters.

Built in 1893, this structure of Italian design marked Tacoma’s ascension in the railroad and shipping industries. A little-known fact outside this region is that Tacoma was initially the Pacific Northwest’s supreme hub in transcontinental transportation thanks to its proximity on the water and ambitious railroad venturists.

Nearby Seattle was a distant second-place snot-nosed relative who even then disregarded and dismissed Tacoma’s presence, sought to undermine its success and see that the world paid attention to IT. Some things never change.

In the long course of time and events, Seattle accomplished its goal and to this day delights in badmouthing Tacoma and selling it short. Yet in another era, one not far from memories except perhaps Seattle’s, Tacoma was the region’s original star.

Oh were that the Old City Hall walls could talk! They do but that’s a whole other post. I never tire of looking at this building, which stands mostly unoccupied, forlorn against the grey watery backdrop (except in those annual 20 minutes of sunshine) of a still-leading Pacific Northwest port, a stubborn survivalist in a town that has taken beatings and fails to — or rather refuses to — die.

And this picture …

I’ve blogged before on Grit City’s posters and creative signage. They’re among the best I’ve seen in any town (and I’ve been to plenty)!

This one’s a favorite from Opera Alley, just up the hill from the Old City Hall. Opera Alley, a hotbed of theater and musical performances, illicit activities, a center of foot-stompin’ drinking and carousing and respite for sailors, loggers, railroaders, mobsters and certainly more than a politicians back in the day …

Thing 17: Make something inspired by and/or that goes over an eye (yours or someone else’s).

It wouldn’t be at all inappropriate for Old City Hall to fly that flag:

An Eye on Tacoma


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doug
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 03:00:25

    What a beautiful old building – why is it being left empty?


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 03, 2011 @ 12:30:27

      @Doug – The Old City Hall, with its two tenants, isn’t up to code and its owner, a Seattle company (coincidentally), has no problem letting it sit neglected, with boarded-up windows and birds and other creatures living inside. The City Council keeps waving the red flags but the owner is unresponsive. Most recently some pipes damaged by freezing temps burst, releasing a gushing 300,000 gallons of water through the building’s six floors, ruining carpets, shutting off power, promising terrific mold problems (in this very damp cold climate) and much more. Who can say what those with the power will do. But it’s a striking, beloved and admired building here and personally I’d like to see it sold into the right hands before it wastes away into an ill-fated demolition.


  2. longeyesamurai
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 04:01:31

    Please tell that at least the building is well-treated. I sometimes despair walking in Montreal and seeing architectural gems left to disrepair.

    Looking at wikipedia, have to admit I like the Bostwick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hotel-Bostwick-Tacoma.jpg).


    • allycatadventures
      Feb 03, 2011 @ 12:39:16

      @Capra – Oh yes, the Bostwick. Just down the road from the Old City Hall and part of the slew of gorgeous historic buildings that define the original Tacoma. I walk by the Bostwick often and will take a photo for ya next time — assuming it’s not pouring rain! lol

      What makes Tacoma so interesting is a certain interest in and passion for the old buildings here — for good reason, they are gorgeous; strident efforts are always under way to preserve or restore or protect this or that building. (As it is, quite a number are already on the historic buildings registrar.) In the case of the Old City Hall, the owner, a Seattle company, just doesn’t seem to care much about its current state of neglect and disrepair and growing (the building most recently suffered a bursting of pipes that had been frozen, sending some 300,000 gallons of water rushing through the six floors). Doesn’t bode well for its fate unless someone can talk its owner into selling …


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