KNKX Connects to Tacoma | KNKX

KNKX Connects to Tacoma

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

  

In July, Washington House Democrats chose Rep. Laurie Jinkins to be the next Speaker of the House. She represents the 27th Legislative District, which includes downtown Tacoma, Hilltop and Point Defiance.

She succeeds Rep. Frank Chopp, who stepped down from the speaker’s chair — but not the House — earlier this year. He served as speaker for 20 years.

Industry is ever-present around Commencement Bay in Tacoma. Citizens for a Healthy Bay is among the organizations that are invested in improving and maintaining the health of those waters.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

David Bean remembers when his family didn’t have enough room for all the salmon in their boat. 

“We caught so much fish that we had to call folks to bring their skiffs over,” said Bean, chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. “I remember one, we overflowed that skiff so much to one side it flipped over and we lost one skiff-load of salmon. But we still had three.”

The waters in and around Tacoma have changed since then. Still, efforts made in recent years have spurred progress. 

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

  

KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel contributed to our KNKX Connects to Tacoma project this week. A native of Tacoma, Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about how the city is on its way to becoming a major player in the region's sports scene. 

Deanna Bender, owner of Over The Moon Cafe, says she wanted to do more than feed people at her restaurant. She wanted to create a space where diners could “check their stuff at the door,” break bread with the people they love and celebrate life.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Imagine writing a letter about the love of your life addressed to a complete stranger. 

The object of your affection may only read it once, or not at all. But it’s almost certain that dozens of people you’ve never met — maybe hundreds — will know exactly how you’re feeling at that moment.

At the very least, Deanna Bender will know.

A Tacoma light rail car makes its way through downtown Tacoma in September 2019.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Before Sound Transit’s light rail took people from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to downtown Seattle, there was the Tacoma Link.

The 1.6-mile line has stayed roughly the same since it opened in 2003, starting at the Tacoma Dome and bringing passengers down Pacific Avenue, past the University of Washington Tacoma, the federal courthouse, and several of the city’s museums.

Jonathan Clark, left, at work at Bob's Bar-B-Q Pit in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood.
Will James / KNKX

Tacoma has appeared on recent lists of the nation's fastest-rising rents and most-gentrified ZIP codes. 

It's a city in the throes of change. At the center of that change is Tacoma's historically black Hilltop neighborhood. Few communities stand to lose ⁠— or gain ⁠— more from the transformations sweeping the city.

The Grand Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater in Tacoma.
Amelia Vaugh / Courtesy of The Grand

The Grand Cinema is more than a theater — it’s like Tacoma’s living room. It’s where people come together not only to watch and appreciate films, but also to engage in conversation with their neighbors about those films. 

“There are a lot of theaters where movies are played,” said Jamika Scott, a board member for the nonprofit, in a conversation with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. “But the difference is The Grand is an organization that was bred out of love for the community, and is sustained by the community.”

KNKX occupies the historic C.N. Gardner building at 930 Broadway in Tacoma's theater district, a neighborhood with a storied past.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

If you were in Tacoma in the early 1900s, you might have been able to score a ticket to hear opera singer Enrico Caruso. Or see a famous choreographer, Vaslav Nijinsky, dancing on stage with the Ballet Russe. 

When the historic C.N. Gardner Building was built in 1906 — KNKX’s new home at 930 Broadway — downtown Tacoma was at the heart of a thriving music and theater scene.

Cranes have become more familiar fixtures of the Tacoma skyline as growth has increased in the City of Destiny in recent years.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

  

Cities, by and large, want to grow. But with growth can come new challenges.

Seattle and San Francisco, for example, saw a housing crisis emerge as the tech boom sent the cost of living sky high – leading many middle- and lower-income residents to feel priced out.

Tacoma is experiencing some of those pressures, too. But Ali Modarres says the city has an opportunity right now to avoid big problems other communities have seen as they’ve grown.

The vibrant view from above the Tacoma Night Market, a monthly gathering of vendors and artists at Alma Mater.
Aaron Bender / Courtesy of Over Tacoma

Aaron Bender is a transplant, but he understands what lifelong Tacomans know to be true about their city — even if what they know to be true is hard to put into words.

“Tacoma definitely has a unique feel. Almost a personality,” Bender said. “I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It’s not like dropping into any cookie-cutter area in the country.”

Nancy Leson and Dick Stein enjoy a tasty Philly cheesesteak at the Broadway farmers market.
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

“It’s so much like the days of yore, when the marketplace was a place for people to meet and greet.”

That’s how food commentator Nancy Leson described Tacoma’s Broadway farmers market, after she’d spent a couple hours there with KNKX’s Dick Stein on a recent Thursday morning. It’s one of four around the city.