The Historic Old Town Neighborhood in Tacoma

One of the Original Settlements in Tacoma History

Old Town Tacoma
The Spar in Old Town Tacoma. Kristin Kendle

Old Town Tacoma is a small area of Tacoma close to the Waterfront, Stadium and downtown districts, but while the core of the neighborhood is small, it's got its own distinct atmosphere largely based in the neighborhood's history. This is the original Tacoma and has a few historical sites to prove it. Today, this is a cute area of town to live, work or enjoy a latte at a sidewalk table.

Old Town is small, largely located on North 30th Street between Starr and Carr Streets, but also spans down onto the Waterfront around McCarver. There's a lot of local history packed into the street and landmark names here. Job Carr, a veteran of the Civil War, came to Tacoma in 1865 and built a log cabin, which later became the town post office. A recreation of that cabin is located right along N. 30th Street here and visitors can peep inside or enjoy events on the grassy lawn surrounding it. The Job Carr Cabin Museum is a recreation of the original cabin and Tacoma’s first church is also located in Old Town.

Old Town was a separate settlement from what was Tacoma's early beginnings. The waterfront settlement grew and was largely populated by immigrants who turned the area into a fishing village.

Things to Do

Old Town is largely residential today, but visitors to the neighborhood are likely there to park and walk the Waterfront, or to dine at the restaurants along N. 30th. Old Town restaurants include everything from coffee shops to sit-down places. The requisite Starbucks is found right on North 30th with outdoor tables for when the weather is nice.

Across the street is The Spar Tavern, a neighborhood tavern with a coffee shop side as well as a restaurant side with live music on Sundays and coin-op pool. The Waterfront restaurants are just a few blocks away on Ruston Way as well.

Even though this area is small, Old Town Tacoma has a few things to do. The Job Carr Cabin Museum is a great place to visit to learn more about Tacoma’s history and one of its original pioneers. Especially around Christmas, the Job Carr Cabin Museum hosts some special family events. The Tacoma Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival is also a worthy summer music festival perfect for anyone who enjoys a low-key festival with great live music.

The Throwing Mud Gallery is a gallery, but also a place where you can learn to make or paint your own pottery. It makes a nice stop for families, but painting pottery or taking a pottery class together can also be a great date activity.

Other businesses in the neighborhood include Old Town Bicycle, Tacoma Mountaineers, Bayview Medical Clinic, Bayview Optical, dentists and a chiropractor.

The nearest hotels to the area are the Silvercloud Inn on the Waterfront and the hotels located in downtown Tacoma.

Living in Old Town

Old Town apartments are some of the main features of the neighborhood's core. There are at least two apartment buildings sandwiched into the buildings around Starbucks, but most of this neighborhood are homes and condos - and they're not cheap.

Several condo buildings are located around Starr and North 30th. Condos in this area start as low as the mid-200,000s but are more typically sold in the $300-400,000 range.

Old Town homes overlap with North Tacoma boundaries, but there are homes located on both sides of North 30th as well as up the hill leading to the​ Proctor District. Much like condos, homes can be as low as the 200,000s, but are usually $300,000 and well above. Many of the properties of all sorts in this area have partial to very good views of the water.

Getting There

If you're driving, Old Town is at the southern end of the Waterfront and there are plenty of places to park either on the Waterfront or on neighborhood streets.

If you're looking to ride the bus, Pierce Transit Route 13 goes along North 30th Street, up through the Proctor District, and over to Pearl Street. Route 11 passes a few blocks away from North 30th.