Over Tacoma, Past and Present

By now, you’ve probably caught on that we love old photos of Tacoma. Pair some of our favorite history shots with amazing, modern-era versions by Over Tacoma, and you can really see how our city has changed in the past 100 or so years.

Asahel Curtis was well known for his photographs of the Pacific Northwest. This 1912 panoramic view of A St. features the Old Tacoma Hotel and a much less developed tideflats across the waterway. This image is made up of four separate shots carefully aligned by Curtis.

In 1904, the Cirkut camera was produced, which allowed for lens and camera rotation up to 360 degrees. But here, Curtis is still kicking it old school. Either way, not as easy as the Panorama feature on your iPhone.

These photos are nearly 100 years apart, but it’s just another hazy Tacoma skyline and no sign of the mountain. Looking down Pacific Ave in 1923, you can see right through the infrastructure of the Washington Building, which wouldn’t be completed for another two years.

If you look closely at the road you can see a streetcar making its way down the avenue. These days, prevalent construction makes it impossible to miss that streetcars are making a comeback.

Clearly, photographer Marvin Boland got his hands on a Cirkut. From this view, the road from Northeast Tacoma into downtown looks remarkably unchanged since 1926.

Love it or hate it, every Tacoman is familiar with the new Point Ruston development. Once a copper smelter, it’s now condos and boutiques.

The Dune Peninsula has traded hot sludge dumping in the Sound for kids eating ice cream and 3D movie screens.

Ever wondered what was in the Bostwick building before a cafe, before Tully’s? Pictured here in 1929 was Seamons Flower Shop. At another time, it was a malt shop. For decades, the intersection of 9th and Broadway has been a hub of entertainment.

Although the Broadway Theatre was demolished after a fire in 1963, we still have the Pantages and Rialto to be thankful for.

When it was constructed, the Washington Building was the tallest building in Tacoma, at 237 feet.

It eventually lost the title when the 1201 Pacific building came along in 1970 and beat it by 101 feet.

The tideflats were considerably flatter when this photo was taken.

Note the old sign on the Murray Morgan Bridge’s counterweight, which reads: “MUNICIPAL LIGHT AND POWER.”

Another view of downtown shows the Washington building under construction and the western end of the Murray Morgan bridge.

The old County Courthouse can be seen dominating the horizon on Tacoma Ave.

The Old Tacoma Hotel burnt down in spectacular flames in 1935. On its ashes stands the shiny State Farm building with a cascading water feature.

Here’s another angle of the Tacoma Hotel before the fire, taken from the Murray Morgan Bridge, or the 11th St Bridge, as it was called when this photo was taken.

Special thanks to Aaron Bender of Over Tacoma for lining up these shots. If you don’t currently follow Over Tacoma, now is the time to start via Facebook or Instagram.

Historical images courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library and Wikimedia Commons.

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