Tacoma (pron.: /tÉËkoÊmÉ/, US dict: tÉÂ·kÅâ²Â·mÉ) is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat of Pierce County, Washington, United States. The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Seattle, 31 miles (50 km) northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and 58 miles (93 km) northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The population was 198,397, according to the 2010 census. Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Puget Sound area and the third largest in the state. Tacoma also serves as the center of business activity for the South Sound region, which has a population of around 1 million people.
Tacoma adopted its name after the nearby Mount Rainier, originally called Mount Tahoma. It is known as the "City of Destiny" because the area was chosen to be the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the late 19th century. The decision of the railroad was influenced by Tacoma's neighboring deep-water harbor, Commencement Bay. By connecting the bay with the railroad Tacoma's motto became "When rails meet sails." Today Commencement Bay serves the Port of Tacoma, a center of international trade on the Pacific Coast and Washington state's largest port.
Like most central cities, Tacoma suffered a prolonged decline in the mid-20th century as a result of suburbanization and divestment. Since the 1990s, developments in the downtown core include the University of Washington Tacoma; Tacoma Link, the first modern electric light rail service in the state; the state's highest density of art and history museums; and a restored urban waterfront, the Thea Foss Waterway.
With a long history of blue-collar labor politics â from the railroad workers of the 19th century, to the longshoremen of the 20th century, to the Labor Ready workers of today â Tacoma has long been known for its rough, gritty image. A song about Tacoma, "Thrice All American", by American singer-songwriter and former resident Neko Case, describes it as "a dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound / where the factories churn / and the timber's all cut down".
Tacoma-Pierce County has been named one of the most livable areas in the country. Tacoma was also recently listed as the 19th most walkable city in the country. In contrast, the city is also ranked as the most stressed-out city in the country in a 2004 survey. In 2006, women's magazine Self named Tacoma the "Most Sexually Healthy City" in the United States. In 2012, The Advocate gave Tacoma the title of "Gayest City in America", in part because of the large diversity of public offices held, and Washington State passing a bill in 2012 allowing LGBT couples to marry.