Completed in 1911, Tacoma’s copper-domed Union Station (Pacific Ave., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., closed weekends, free) was designed by the same firm that built New York’s Grand Central Station and has a similar sense of grandeur. The depot originally served as the terminus of the Northern Pacific’s rail line and was later used by the Great Northern and Union Pacific railroads before falling into disuse.
A massive restoration in 1989 transformed the distinctively domed building into a federal courthouse for all of western Washington. Today, the works of the renowned Tacoma-born glass artist Dale Chihuly fills its magnificent central space. An 18-foot cobalt-blue chandelier hangs from the high center, and many other pieces provide bright accents.
Old City Hall (S. 7th St. and Pacific Ave.) is another distinctive downtown building, patterned after an Italian town hall. Its dominant feature is a tall freestanding clock tower. Built in 1905, it is now used for commercial offices. A campus of the University of Washington spreads through 22 restored historic downtown buildings.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition