Old City Hall

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Encyclopedia Entry


Anchoring the north end of downtown Tacoma, across Pacific Avenue from the 1888 Italianate building that once served as the Northern Pacific Railway headquarters, Tacoma’s original city hall, completed in 1893 and today known as “Old City Hall,” is a striking structure that reflects the railroad’s role in Tacoma’s birth and the visions of grandeur the city’s founders had for its future. Both buildings stand on a bluff overlooking Commencement Bay, a prominent and conspicuous location, especially to ships coming in from the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. Yet Old City Hall’s clock tower rises from the building’s southeast corner and is thus oriented toward downtown Tacoma to the south. In this way, the building suggests its civic importance, and not merely its relationship to the private interests that assisted with the city’s economic rise. Despite the construction of taller buildings in later years, the tower—and the building as a whole—remains an important Tacoma landmark.

Publication Title

SAH Archipedia