Is Tacoma the new Seattle?

Airport Wy Penguin
photo courtesy of Metroblogging’s own Slightlynorth / Shawn [flickr]

The New York Times published a short travel essay on Georgetown a couple days ago [nyt]. In it they describe the appeal of a neighborhood Fantagraphics curator Larry Reid calls the “last outpost of any blue-collar, bohemian arts culture in Seattle.” When put that way, the appeal is self-explanatory. For those reasons and more, I really enjoy Georgetown. There’s an authenticity (grittiness?) to it that is missing from many other Seattle neighborhoods. Lunch at Jules Mae’s Saloon is easily turned into a Seattle history lesson and a short walk along Airport Way always leaves me feeling fortunate that Georgetown exists (however precariously) and sentimental for a different Seattle.

And so, thanks to the TNT’s Grit City, the Tacoma comparison begins. Noting that among other things Tacoma (like Georgetown) has its own glass blowers, artists on scooters, and cheap rent, Grit City proudly declares that Tacoma is the new Seattle. Here I thought Portland was the new Seattle. Or Omaha. And if those cities are the new Seattle, what’s Seattle? Once again, an Internet poll comes to our rescue.


Update: I just noticed that Grit City is not claiming Tacoma is the new Seattle. They’re claiming Seattle is the new Tacoma. All the sudden this meme became a lot more more sinister.

7 Comments so far

  1. Erin (lunge) on June 3rd, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

    I was so going to post something about the Georgetown article. I absolutely love Georgetown. So many awesome restaurants and cute shops. So much going on there, and I agree it’s got some authenticity to it. A friend of mind says it’s like what Fremont used to be.

  2. sparkrobot on June 4th, 2008 @ 12:11 am

    i spent the last 6 years in tacoma. the answer is sadly, no.

  3. Nerd's Eye View (nerdseyeview) on June 4th, 2008 @ 7:08 am

    I get cranky over the use of the term authenticity, as though my neighborhood is somehow "fake" compared to Georgetown, which is more "real." I like Georgetown too – I head over the All City Coffee regularly – but the big pile of bricks next to the remaining part of the brewery means that what’s "real" in Georgetown is going through some serious transition.

    I loved living up off 15th on Cap Hill and while it certainly wasn’t edgy, it wasn’t "fake." And our new digs in West Seattle, while kinda suburban, have us heading up to the Junction all the time and that’s not "fake" either. The new Fremont, now that feels kinda fake to me, but mostly, I think it’s just globalized and/or inhabited most of the day by people that don’t LIVE there.

    Georgetown is cool because people live and work there and because it’s got a crazy variety of businesses, that tiny naturopathic clinic is right across the street from the car parts place, right? But when the car parts place closes and becomes some knock off of Rainbow Grocery, is it going to be any less authentic? I don’t think so, it will just be different.

    Apologies for rambling on the soapbox. I have issues with semantics, clearly. And the photo, it’s a stunner.

  4. Ryan (ryanhealy) on June 4th, 2008 @ 7:22 am

    I live in Fremont. I like it. I can walk everywhere I need to go and there are innumerable things to do. But it doesn’t have the charm that Georgetown does. It feels very planned and controlled by comparison. Perhaps authenticity doesn’t have anything to do with it but it’s the word that comes to mind whenever I think of Georgetown. And when Georgetown finally succumbs to the development that is happening elsewhere in the city, it will feel less authentic.

    If you can think of a better term for what I’m trying to describe, please let me know.

  5. Nerd's Eye View (nerdseyeview) on June 4th, 2008 @ 7:54 am

    Fremont IS planned and controlled, yup, that’s for sure, but agreed, it’s WAY convenient. I used to love how walking around Fremont was like walking around a big rambling old house, but that’s all gone. It’s not coming back, I get that and the character of Fremont sure has changed over time. Maybe it’s "character" that wants discussing versus "authenticity."

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m getting bogged down in semantics, so I hope you don’t find my commentary snarky or personal. It’s not intended that way, it’s my own deal about the use of the word "authentic" when discussing place.

    Maybe this conversation is a sideline about writing, best had over coffee and/or pie on neutral territory.

  6. Ryan (ryanhealy) on June 4th, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    No snark taken. I’m genuinely curious if there’s a better term for what I’m describing.

    Pie sounds good.

  7. gargamello on June 4th, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    I heard that Omaha is the new Mobile! Well actually I saw that scrawled on a bathroom stall, but I thought that was sufficiently authentic.

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