Tacoma, with an estimated population of almost 200,000, is a mid-sized urban port city in Washington State. The city is located on a peninsula on the southern end of Washington's Puget Sound; 32 miles southwest of Seattle, 31 miles northeast of the State capital, Olympia, and 58 miles northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. The city is also adjacent to Commencement Bay that was a major contributing factor to its early economic success. Today, Commencement Bay serves the Port of Tacoma, a major player in international trade on the Pacific Coast. Tacoma however, suffered a prolonged economic and population decline in the mid-20th century but recent investment in the downtown area has brought renewed interest in art, history and tourist enterprises. These efforts have been noticed by several nationally published distinctions of "the most livable" and "the most walkable" cities in the country. Tacoma is the home of several international companies, such as Labor Ready, Inc., and the Russell Investment Group.
Tacoma was inhabited for thousands of years by the Puyallup people, who lived in several settlements on the delta of the Puyallup River and still play a large part in the cultural and historical significance and revitalization of the area. In 1990, The University of Washington established a branch campus in Tacoma and the historic Union Station was restored. Tacoma's downtown Cultural District is also the site of the Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum. America's Car Museum is currently breaking ground in Tacoma. The grand glass and steel Tacoma Convention and Trade Center opened in June 2004. The Museum of Glass opened in downtown Tacoma in 2002, showcasing glass art from the region and around the world. It includes a functional glassblowing studio.
The city and surrounding area offers many outdoor recreational opportunities with its location on the Puget Sound and the nearby Mount Rainer National Park. Hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, and camping are just some of the activities residents and visitors can enjoy. Other outdoor and local attractions in and around the city include Point Defiance Park that contains Owen Beach, Camp Six, Fort Nisqually, and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Additionally, Tacoma residents also enjoy Wapato Park, Titlow Beach, Wright Park Arboretum, and the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory.