Tacoma, Washington, one of the largest cities in the state and the seat of Pierce County. It lies on Puget Sound at the head of Commencement Bay, 25 miles (40 km) south of Seattle. Tacoma is an industrial city and a transportation and commercial center. The lumber and shipping industries and wholesale and retail trade are vital to the city's economy. Tacoma has an excellent harbor and a busy port. Also serving the city are Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, several railroads, and an Interstate highway (I–5).
Tacoma's attractions include the State Historical Society Museum; one of the nation's largest totem poles; and Point Defiance Park, with a zoo, an aquarium, and a reconstruction of Fort Nisqually. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which links the city with the Olympic Peninsula, is one of the longest suspension bridges in the United States.
Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks are nearby. Fort Lewis, a U.S. Army post, and McChord Air Force Base are just outside the city. Tacoma is the seat of the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University.
The Hudson's Bay Company built Fort Nisqually near the site of Tacoma in 1833. The first permanent settlement in the area, however, was not made until 1868, when General Morton Matthew McCarver chose Commencement Bay as the possible site of the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway and platted a town site nearby, which he called Commencement City. In 1869 he changed the name to Tacoma, an Indian name for Mount Rainier. Tacoma was selected as the Puget Sound terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1873. Steady growth followed completion of the railway line.