Located at the south end of Puget Sound, Tacoma is Washington State's third largest city. Its 200,000 inhabitants reside in 63 neighborhoods, many of which retain a distinct character within their boundaries due to Tacoma's hilly topography and miles of coastline. Tacoma was incorporated in 1875 and underwent an early economic boom, and many stately homes of that early era are still standing, especially in the neighborhoods on Puget Sound and surrounding Commencement Bay. Traveling inland, buyers will find many neighborhoods that combine urban amenities with an affordable median home price.
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Tacoma's location in Pacific Northwest timber country, its deep-water port and its designation as the last stop on the Northern Pacific Rail line all contributed to the city's industrial history. Though timber sales and industry have slowed in recent decades, the city has become home to many young, educated and upwardly mobile men and women, making Tacoma a third major creative city in the area, including Seattle to north and Portland, Oregon, to the south. Industry has not gone away entirely, however; a few paper mills and an oil refinery, along with smaller industrial businesses, still operate in in the city. The mix of creative and heavy industry give Tacoma a balance that is not easily classified as blue collar or white. The city's top private employers are healthcare companies, while the leading public employers include local schools and Joint Base Lewis McChord, operated by the Army and Air Force and located 15 miles south of Tacoma along Interstate Five. Tacoma is the center of commerce for the roughly 1 million people who live in the South Sound area of the state.
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