The Tacoma Daily Index recently posted a great little article about the fantastic public parks in and around Tacoma. The author discusses the changes made to the waterfront both by the community and by the development.
I’ll admit to being about 150% biased on this topic, but I am convinced that Tacoma has the best parks anywhere. You can see the statistics on the infographic but the facts are even better.
Yes, it is astounding that over three million people pass through Point Defiance each year (that’s about the same as visit Mount Rainier National Park any given year), and yes, it seems like about a million of those (or at least their cars) are there on the weekend you choose to be there.
Besides Point Defiance, there are 68 other parks in, around (and, like Northwest Trek, outside of) the city. Some, like Ruston Way, you might not even think of as parks.
If you look at photos of Tacoma’s Ruston Way before about 1980, you will see a two or three mile strand of industrial slag, abandoned buildings and scrub bushes all culminating in the grim, boarded-up toxic wasteland known as the ASARCO copper refining plant.
Besides being ugly, scraggly and saturated in lead, arsenic and who knows what other noxious chemical compounds, it was dirty, dusty and a place you’d drive by as quickly as possible on your way to the relatively clean Point Defiance.
But you’d never know it today. Ruston Way is itself a destination. It is green, lush, and even on a sunny evening, with traffic (not) rushing by, it has its quiet, lush corners.
It took work, money and an astounding vision to turn that narrow strip of industrial blight into the luminous, green and welcoming place it is today.
Point Ruston, while not part of Tacoma’s Metro Parks, is the capstone, the vital commercial hub of the North End of Tacoma.
Point Ruston has had more than its share of legal, political and construction complications (toxic contamination and split jurisdictional authority between Tacoma and Ruston, among other things), but Point Ruston also stands (and seems to be flourishing) as the result of work, investment and vision.
That whole stretch of land, from Old Town Tacoma to Point Ruston, stands as an example of what can be done when a community steps up and reclaims a part of town everyone else has given up on.
By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index