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.
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.
Tacoma offers much for locals to enjoy. In addition to being home to excellent neighborhood eateries, pubs and coffee shops that have embraced the regions locavore ethic, the natural beauty of the city and the surrounding area are an inspiration to residents. Several large parks are located throughout the city, including Point Defiance Park, which at 700 acres is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Dog parks have been established throughout Tacoma, making owning a dog in the city convenient and popular among local residents. A light rail line and convenient access to commuter trains linking Tacoma to Seattle help the city to retain an urban feel while reducing commuter traffic congestion, and iconic ferry boats traversing the local waters of Puget Sound exude Northwest charm.