Tacoma, Washington
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History of Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma was inhabited for thousands of years by Native American people, predominantly the Puyallup people. It was visited by European and American explorers, including George Vancouver and Charles Wilkes, who named many of the coastal landmarks.

The town was originally settled by pioneer and postmaster Job Carr, a Civil War veteran and land speculator who hoped to profit from the selection of Commencement Bay as the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. (A replica of Job Carr's cabin, which also served as Tacoma's first post office, was erected in "Old Town" in 2000 near the original site.)

Tacoma was named after Mount Rainier, whose original name was Tahoma, which derived from the Puyallup tacobet, or "mother of waters."

Tacoma was officially incorporated on November 12, 1875. Its early hopes to live to be the "City of Destiny" were frustrated in the late 19th century, when the discovery of gold in the Klondike turned Seattle into a boom town, eclipsing Tacoma's early lead.

George Francis Train was a resident of Tacoma for a few years in the late 1800s, and was an early civic booster. In 1880, he staged a global circumnavigation starting and ending in Tacoma to promote the city's centrality. A plaque in downtown Tacoma marks the start and finish point.

What came to be known as "Tacoma method" was used in November 1885 to expel several thousand Chinese peaceably living in the city. To quote from the account prepared by the Chinese Reconciliation Project: On the morning of Nov. 3, 1885, "several hundred men, led by the mayor and other city officials, evicted the Chinese from their homes, corralled them at 7th Street and Pacific Avenue, marched them to the railway station at Lakeview and forced them aboard the morning train to Portland, Oregon. The next day two Chinese settlements were burned to the ground."

During a thirty day power shortage in the winter of 1929/1930, Tacoma was provided with electricity from the engines of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.
In 1998, the city of Tacoma decided to install a high-speed fiber optic network throughout the community, the municipally owned power company took the initiative to wire an entire city of 187,000 people, thus making Tacoma America's #1 wired city.

Tacoma stuggled with crime in the 1980s and early 1990s near the Hilltop neighborhood, but it has declined significantly in recent years as many neighborhoods have enacted community policing and other policies. Today, much of the concern with gang related crime is located in East Tacoma.

On April 26, 2003 Tacoma's Chief of Police, David Brame, shot and killed his wife and himself in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Tacoma was ranked among the top 30 in America's Most Livable Communities in 2004. The annual Survey is conducted by the Partners for Livable Communities.

Tacoma is also notable for having an extensive network of tunnels underneath its streets. Although not open to the public, the passageways have been explored by "urban tunnelers" and discovered to run at least as far as from Stadium High to Tacoma General Hospital.

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