Nearly all of the 20th Century presidents have visited Tacoma with the early ones most often speaking to a crowd at Stadium Bowl and the later ones greeting voters in or near the theatre district. Here’s a nervous moment for the obvious Secret Service agents in September 1980 when President Jimmy Carter not only left his limo in a mob but leapt on top of it at the corner of 9th and Pacific Avenue. Just up the hill at 9th and Broadway, President Harry S Truman addressed an audience of 9000 in June of 1948 and from almost exactly the same place Benjamin Harrison did the same thing in May 1891 though he was standing in front of a department store that was later replaced by the Pantages Theatre. President Eisenhower probably was seen most often in the theatre district since he lived here and went frequently to the movies with his son John who attended Stadium High School. The most celebrated visit however was probably Ronald Reagan who played a dashing young romantic interest in the movie “Tugboat Annie Sails Again” and was famously photographed with the big name Hollywood cast at its Pantages premier in October 1940. That was 10 years before “Bedtime for Bonzo”, 20 years before getting into California politics and 40 years before he defeated Jimmy Carter for the Presidency of the United States. If presidents could see through time, Carter could have seen the young actor Reagan from his perch atop the presidential automobile. Time and place, near and far.

RC Carter 1980

Tacoma Public Library , Unique: 36010

Image by Andy Cox,


TPL General_Photograph_Collection_G681063
TPL General_Photograph_Collection_G681050
premier 1940
Future President Ronald Reagan with cast at premier of Tugboat Annie Sails Again, 1940 Pantages Theatre


Description On Thursday June 10, 1948, President Harry S. Truman stopped

off in Tacoma long enough to address a crowd of several thousand Tacomans from a platform built on the corner of South 9th and Broadway. In an address carried live over KMO radio, he blasted the congress for doing nothing to curb inflation and control prices. He also attacked their tax reduction program which he called “a rich man’s tax law – for the relief of the rich.” While in Bremerton he addressed an enthusiastic crowd emphasizing the need for a strong defense during times of peace. Seattle greeted him with downtown crowds estimated at 100,000. ALBUM 1. (TNT 6-9-48, p. 1, TNT 6-10-48, p. 1, TNT 6-11-48, p. 11) TPL-9675

1 comment

  1. I was there that day and I have a picture I took that day that captured the photographer taking the picture from behind the presidential limousine. I can send you a copy if you would like to see it.


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