Tacoma | KNKX


Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma's annual New Year's Eve celebration, First Night, returns this year after it was canceled last year due to a budget shortfall.

The event includes performances and celebrations throughout Tacoma's Theater District beginning at six 6 p.m. on Dec. 31. Some events are free, while others require the purchase of a button, which functions like a ticket.

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

Author's note: I’ve worked at KNKX Public Radio just over a year now. And it’s stories like this that brought me here. The words scribbled on love notes hidden in boxes at Tacoma’s Over The Moon Cafe belong on the radio. As I said in this story, reading them over a tasty meal feels like being engrossed in a good book you never want to put down. But hearing them spoken — by the woman who dreamed up the restaurant where they live in anonymity — is that much better. The audio injects life into these stories of everyday people, which is precisely what KNKX does best. I hope everyone enjoys this story as much as I do. And if you have time this holiday season, stop by for a meal and leave a note of your own. (This story originally aired Sept. 12.)  

The City of Tacoma will be establishing a shelter site in the Hilltop neighborhood for people who are experiencing homelessness. 

The City Council voted Tuesday night to approve the emergency resolution.  It will provide "micro shelter units" next month for people who are currently camped nearby in People's Park. 

courtesy of Julia Glen

Julia and Nancy Glen grew up in Tacoma. Now, the sisters have captured their love for the city in a new illustrated children’s book, "Tacoma Adventures."

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, revolvers fill a display case and ammunition is stacked behind at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The Tacoma City Council has voted in favor of a new tax on firearms and ammunition. The council unanimously approved the measure in a late-night vote.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma has one of the first and largest city-owned internet and TV networks in the U.S.

It's called Click, and it's the reason Tacoma once billed itself as "America's No. 1 wired city."

Now, some residents are worried about proposed changes to the 21-year-old service that would see it operated by a private company.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Weeks after thousands of young people stormed the streets to demand more action on climate change, the issue is shaping campaigns across the nation.

That wave is rippling through two races in Western Washington — and big money is flowing in, both for and against candidates who are outspoken about the need to rein in use of fossil fuels.

Stadium Bowl, pictured bottom left, is perhaps best known for its sweeping views of Puget Sound. The football stadium, which has been seen in the film "10 Things I Hate About You," is contending for bragging rights as the nation's best football stadium.
Over Tacoma / overtacoma.com

UPDATE, Oct. 31: Tacoma's historic football stadium won't advance to the finals of America's Best High School Football Stadiums contest. After the poll closed Thursday, Stadium Bowl trailed Mitchell Stadium, 55 percent to 45 percent.  

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma has just over a month until its new law banning tents and shelters in city parks goes into effect. The city council recently passed the controversial ordinance, and some advocates are concerned the city won’t be prepared. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A Tacoma-based company is partnering with Uber to give people a new way to find work on demand. It's an app that serves as a virtual temp agency — offering shifts in a variety of industries. 

Paula Wissel / KNKX


Hundreds of people turned out for a celebration in the Pierce County courthouse for the 25th anniversary of the county’s drug court.

When Pierce County started the drug diversion court, it was a relatively new concept, the idea of treating people for their addiction rather than sending them to jail for a drug crime. Now, drug courts and other therapeutic courts, such as mental health courts, have proliferated around the country.

Photo by Randy Korwin Courtesy of the National Liberty Museum

An exhibit of glass works made by all LGBTQ artists is making its West Coast debut at Tacoma's Museum of Glass. The national exhibit "Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition," which opened Saturday, is curated and organized by the National Liberty Museum. It's the first of its kind.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

The City of Tacoma could soon ban temporary structures, such as tents, in city parks. During public comment at the City Council meeting Tuesday night, many people spoke against the ordinance, which would prevent tents or other makeshift dwellings in Tacoma parks — unless expressly authorized.

Image from Velocity's video for "Strange Matter"

The New Cool is fired up to present Tacoma's modern jazz leaders Velocity at the Spanish Ballroom at the Elks Lodge in Tacoma Monday night, Sept. 30. It's a celebration of their new album, Magnetar, and also celebrates an exciting cultural movement around the band's home base of Tacoma.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

A building in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood that sat empty for years now has a buyer. Forterra, a nonprofit known for environmental and land conservation work across the Puget Sound region, is purchasing the old Rite Aid there.

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. 

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.”

A detainee walks in a hallway during a media tour at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility Tuesday in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

One of Nathalie Asher's first goals in returning to the Northwest from three years in D.C. is to combat what she says are myths and misinformation about immigration enforcement and detention.

"We've never done this kind of an extensive tour like this," the new Immigration and Customs Enforcement Seattle field office director told media outside the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma.

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.

Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A group hoping to halt demolition of a nearly century-old Tacoma church is asking the Archbishop of Seattle to walk back the controversial decision. And Tacoma’s mayor has spoken in favor of preserving the landmark, which can’t be demolished without city approval.

Congregants of an iconic Tacoma church are mounting a campaign to save the historic building from being demolished. 

On Sunday, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced the decision to tear down Holy Rosary church rather than spend millions of dollars in repairs. 

But longtime members of the congregation, such as Joy Donohue, say they intend to appeal the decree, which came from Archbishop J. Peter Sartain.   

The 8 million-gallon containment tank is seen from a distance on Tacoma's tideflats at the site of a liquefied natural gas plant currently under construction.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Editor's note: This series originally published May 22. Environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp was in Tacoma on Tuesday covering the latest developments, including an anti-LNG march and a public hearing related to permits for the proposed project. Listen to her coverage on All Things Considered today and Morning Edition tomorrow, and revisit previous coverage (updates at the bottom of this post).

Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris wasn’t surprised to receive a call from Gov. Jay Inslee the afternoon of May 8. But she was surprised to hear what he had to say.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma residents may soon pay more to recycle.

A proposal under consideration by the Tacoma City Council would tack on a new $3.40 monthly surcharge for residential customers.

It also would prevent curbside recycling of glass. Instead, residents would have to dispose of glass at drop-off spots, such as the Tacoma Recycle Center.

Northwest Detention Center
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Tacoma's mayor and city manager have called Saturday's fatal shooting by police outside an ICE detention center a tragedy, and linked the death to "increasingly divisive national rhetoric" and intensifying actions by immigration authorities.