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Rare Locally Published Mammoth View of Tacoma

Rare lithographic bird'seye view of Tacoma, celebrating the arrival of the Northern Pacific.  This is the largest of the early views of Tacoma and apparently the only one which was locally published, although we have been unable to find details about its maker.

Will Carson was apparently a local artitst / lithographer.  The On July 5, 1890, the Pacific Rural Press advertised the publication of the view on page 17.l

Tacoma Portrayed.—Will Carson has published a very large view of Tacoma in colors. Accurate sketches of the buildings and the general surroundings give a very good notion of the city and its location.

The entry for the map at the University of Washington notes:

Bird's-eye view showing Tacoma, Commencement Bay and surrounding area.  Printed near bottom border are three numbered keys to Churches; Schools and Colleges; and "Manufactories, Etc." and various factories.  The map depicts surrounding forests, ships in the bay, the Puyallup River, Olympic Mountains in the distance, shipyards, warehouses, coal bunkers, gas and electric works, breweries, fish canneries, and the tracks and depot of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Labels some major streets including Dock Street, Pacific Avenue, Cliff Avenue, Jefferson Street, Tacoma Avenue, Puyallup Avenue and Adams Street. . . . 

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Tacoma experience booming growth as reflected on this particular map of Tacoma. In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad Company chose Tacoma as its western terminus. In 1884, Old Tacoma and New Tacoma "consolidated" into one major city. The same year, the grand Tacoma Hotel opened as did an all girls' school, Annie Wright Seminary, featured on this map. The railroad line was completed in 1887 and two years later, Washington Territory became Washington State. From a population of about 1100 in 1880 to a population numbering 45,000 in 1890, Tacoma had truly become a city (Martin and Kellog, 31; Wilma and Crowley). The intense growth of business and industry is evident in the large number of buildings, the railroad and major streets depicted in Carson's map.

The views include

  • Northern Pacific RR Headquarters
  • Mount Tacoma (Mount Rainier)
  • Opera House
  • Tacoma Lumber Mills
  • Pacific Avenue Buildings
  • Emerson's School
  • Central School
  • St. Peters Church and Natural (in a tree) Bell Tower
  • The Tacoma Hotel
  • Area Map
  • Annie Wright Seminary


Reps locates 3 examples (Library of Congress, Washington State HIstorical Society and Bancroft Library).  We note also examples at Yale and the University of Washington.