Tacoma Meeting Overview
Welcome to Tacoma
"…a stimulating arena where scholars from different places but with similar
interests can meet and forge intellectual and social ties."
-Arne Kaijser, SHOT President
30 September –
3 October 2010
For engineering students and historians of technology, Tacoma may be most often associated with the spectacular collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge on November 7, 1940, an event memorialized on film and enjoyed by students ever since (click on the image to the right to see a video about the bridge’s collapse).�The replacement bridge, dating from 1950, has fared better over the mile-long saltwater passage linking Washington’s most populous region, the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, to the forested lands separating Puget Sound from the Pacific Ocean.�Tacoma’s history as an industrial and transportation center, and its redevelopment for the 21st century economy make it an ideal site for SHOT’s 2010 meeting, September 30 to October 3.
Visitors to Tacoma can expect several things.�Most importantly, Tacoma’s urban core is intensely museum-centric; within a few blocks of the convention hotel, the Murano, SHOT members will find the State History Museum (in a preserved Northern Pacific railroad terminal), the Tacoma Art Museum, the Tacoma Museum of Glass (centering on the works of glass artist Dale Chihuly), the Foss Seaport maritime history center as well as the restored Pantages Theater, once the center of the nation’s largest vaudeville chain. Visit Tacoma Beyond SHOT for more information.�Second, within appropriate meteorological error bars, visitors have reason to hope for beautiful weather.�Typical patterns for western Washington include dry, sunny weather in August and September, with warm late September temperatures.
Tacoma developed as an industrial and transportation hub in the late 19th century, and many of its neighborhoods still retain the material legacies of that period.�The Northern Pacific chose Tacoma over Seattle as its terminus in 1873; the railroad actually arrived in 1883 and a more direct route through the Cascade Mountains to the east was pushed through in 1887.�Claiming the nickname “City of Destiny,” Tacoma sat in the shadow of nearby Mount Rainier (14,410 feet) and at the edge of Puget Sound, an extensive protected arm of the Pacific with access to short sea routes to Japan, China and Russia.�Fortunes were made in banking, insurance, warehousing, and in the shipment and processing of wheat from the Dakotas, Montana, and eastern Washington, as well as the products of the western part of the state, salmon and, especially, timber.�Tacoma was the center of the most important manufactured wood-products industry of the age: plywood.�After World War I, nearby Fort Lewis emerged as the most important base for the US Army on the northern Pacific coast, also dependent on the Port of Tacoma as a transshipment site for troops and equipment. Visit HistoryLink to see more information about Tacoma’s history.
In the 20th century, Tacoma was eclipsed by Seattle to the north and Portland, Oregon, to the south.�Economic changes in the timber industry and the rise of containerized shipping, to the detriment of the longshoreman’s occupation, challenged the city. Increasingly, Tacoma’s destiny is associated with a cultural economy supported by its institutions of higher education – the University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Washington-Tacoma – and its museums.�Both in the city and in the surrounding region, visitors will find the intertwined strands of industry and natural beauty that characterize the Northwest.
Bruce Hevly, Local Arrangements Chair