Native Americans inhabited what is now Tacoma for years before being settled by Europeans. The Puyallup was a notable group that lived in the region during its earliest years. What would later become Tacoma was settled by Nicolas Delin who built a sawmill close to Commencement Bay. However, all was later abandoned during the Indian War. It was in 1864 when Job Carr came to live in the area, but later sold his claim to Morton McCarver, who came up with the idea of Tacoma City.
The city was incorporated in 1875 because it was to be the site of a Northern Pacific Railroad depot. However, the depot was built several miles from the development as an area known as New Tacoma. These regions, however, merged in 1884 and experienced a population boom shortly thereafter.
It was in 1885 that hundreds of Chinese residents were evicted from the city and sent to Portland, Oregon. As the 19th century ended, a streetcar accident occurred in Tacoma, resulting in many deaths. During the early 20th century, smelter workers went on strike in Tacoma, demanding a pay raise. The strike ended just months later, with the workers not getting the extra pay they were seeking.
The 1920s saw a period of growth with the development of the first movie studio in the city. However, the stock market crash of 1929 brought misfortune to the city. Shortly after, Tacoma experienced one of its coldest winters in history, resulting in major power outages. The local economy was impacted, businesses shut their doors, and foreclosures were on the rise. The 1930s saw an increase of population in Hooverville, the city’s homeless community, as families were evicted from their homes.
The 1950s brought about more problems for the city as government corruption was uncovered. The commission-style government was changed to a mayor and city-manager system. The city’s economy continued to decline, with many streets and stores completely abandoned.
The 1980s and early 1990s saw a higher rate of crime, but with the 2000s came a reduction in crime. The city was later named as one of the Most Livable Communities.
It was during the 1990s that revitalization efforts began. Among the renovations were the federal courthouse, the Tacoma Art Museum, and America’s Car Museum.