Tacoma's Point Defiance Park

For more than a century, the citizens of Tacoma have valued Point Defiance Park as a forested refuge and an urban oasis. The community treasures its history and ecology as the crown jewel of the city’s public spaces. Ancient forest continues to cover the majority of the park’s 700-plus acres. Attractions of the past—a saltwater swimming pool, riding stables, and an amusement park—delighted earlier generations, though they are now long gone. The first boathouses, early zoological collections, and gardens near the park’s entrance date back to the 1890s and now greet visitors in modern form. Today’s park amenities are designed to foster appreciation for the rich historic and environmental heritage of “Tacoma’s Great Pride” and serve an estimated two million visitors annually. Historic images from both private and public collections highlight this memorable “walk in the park” through a beloved civic preserve.

By Melissa McGinnis, Doreen Beard-Simpkins, and the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma

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