Sitting there today right across the street from Union Station is the Tacoma Grocery Building, a quintessential participant in the Union depot Warehouse Historical District and a key academic building at the University of Washington Tacoma. This image must be just after construction in 1891 and its interesting to see the stone retaining wall at the rear that supports the Prairie Line running just behind the building. It will be 20 years before the copper dome on Union Station appears and before that the company would change their name to West Coast Grocery and eventually launch the Thriftway chain of grocery stores and supermarkets. They would also launch their famous and ubiquitous brand name “AMOCAT” which would appear on everything from canned apricots to apple vinegar bottles. If you look in your rear view mirror at the ghost sign high on the south wall today you can still see the brand name and spelled backward its place of origin, town and building at the same time.West Coast Grocery 1

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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