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Like most central cities, Tacoma suffered a prolonged decline in the mid-20th century as a result of suburbanization and divestment.Since the 1990s, developments in the downtown core include the University of Washington Tacoma; Tacoma Link, the first modern electric light rail service in the state; the state's highest density of art and history museums; and a restored urban waterfront, the Thea Foss Waterway.

The population was 198,397, according to the 2010 census.

Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Puget Sound area and the third largest in the state.

Tacoma also serves as the center of business activity for the South Sound region, which has a population of around 1 million people.

The city of Tacoma and surrounding areas were inhabited for thousands of years by American Indians, predominantly the Puyallup people, who lived in settlements on the delta.

In 1852, a Swede named Nicolas Delin constructed a sawmill powered by water on a creek near the head of Commencement Bay, but the small settlement that grew up around it was abandoned during the Indian War of 1855–56.

In 1864, pioneer and postmaster Job Carr, a Civil War veteran and land speculator who hoped to profit from the selection of Commencement Bay as the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad, built a cabin (a replica of Job Carr's cabin, which also served as Tacoma's first post office, was erected in "Old Town" in 2000 near the original site), and later sold most of his claim to developer Morton M.

Tacoma-Pierce County has been named one of the most livable areas in the United States.Tacoma adopted its name after the nearby Mount Rainier, originally called Takhoma or Tahoma.It is locally known as the "City of Destiny" because the area was chosen to be the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the late 19th century.The decision of the railroad was influenced by Tacoma's neighboring deep-water harbor, Commencement Bay.By connecting the bay with the railroad, Tacoma's motto became "When rails meet sails." Today, Commencement Bay serves the Port of Tacoma, a center of international trade on the Pacific Coast and Washington State's largest port.The city is on Washington's Puget Sound, 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Seattle, 31 miles (50 km) northeast of the state capital, Olympia, and 58 miles (93 km) northwest of Mount Rainier National Park.

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