Civics

Published on August 15th, 2013 | by Daniel Rahe

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Spokane is Better than Tacoma

For years, there has been an open rivalry between Tacoma and Spokane to claim the title of Second Largest City in Washington. The results of the 2000 and 2010 US Census revealed that Spokane has won the competition rather handily, and proper grudging acknowledgment from Tacoma’s officials was offered – if a box of Tagro sent to the Spokane Spokesman Review counts as “proper.”

As much as it pains me to acknowledge it, Spokane may be a little ahead of Tacoma in more respects than just population.

The two cities compete good-naturedly on a field of their own, singled out by the wearying distinction of the Compton Suffix: Tacompton and Spokompton. It is considered quite a sharp-witted joke, in most parts of the state, to refer to these historically working-class municipalities as if Spike Lee just made “Do the Right Thing” last week.

Of course, those of us who live in Tacoma know it is no longer the downtrodden gang zone it once was, just as residents of Spokane know their hometown has more in common with Boise than the home of gangsta rap.

Despite sharing a reputation for being places one shouldn’t visit and comparable population figures, Tacoma and Spokane have some key differences, most in regards to their relationship with Seattle.

Seattle is Washington’s  indispensable city. It is a center of international commerce with few rivals. It is a hub of culture, education, and technology. The impact of all the business and industry occurring in a city as large as Seattle is certain to be felt on a regional level – and even more intensely within such close proximity as Tacoma.

Monroe Street Bridge in Spokane

Monroe Street Bridge in Spokane

As long as it is within 50 miles of Seattle, Tacoma is going to have a hell of a time trying to be its own city, torn between the choice to be a satellite or develop its own gravity. Making things more than a little complicated, Olympia is also near enough to dull our shine with its enduring artistic allures.

Spokane doesn’t have this encroachment problem. It is outside Seattle’s cultural blast zone, shielded by a range of mountains and its proximity to a host of smaller communities that depend on it as a commercial and cultural hub. It has never been a predominantly “white-collar” town, but some of its hardscrabble reputation surely sprang from the exaggerated derision of students from “finer” cities who gravitated to Washington State University, Gonzaga, or Eastern Washington University. Maybe they thought the shopping mall sucked. I don’t know.

Today, a visitor from Tacoma will be struck by some similarities in Spokane. Spokane does not gleam, but emits a grubby, old world charm from its wealth of historic buildings. It has sprawling late-Victorian to early post-war residential districts and verdant parks. Like Pacific Avenue, its downtown area seems shockingly lifeless during the average weekday, and it can be a challenge to find decent variety in lunch menus. Business hours are casually irregular at many shops and restaurants. Parking is abundant.

Like us, the people of Spokane care about history. Their successes in restoration and revitalization emphasize its importance in urban rebirth. The Steam Plant facility is a fine example of an iconic industrial structure which has been repurposed successfully – in this case as a mixed use center. The heroically-proportioned machinery still climbs the brick of the interior walls, and shoppers and diners can stand in the base of the tall smokestacks to gaze toward the distant sky. The restoration of the Steam Plant is an impressive achievement, and the fare at the brewpub inside isn’t bad either (think Harmon, with a little more creativity and finesse).

Photograph by Alicia Wilkinson

Photograph by Alicia Wilkinson

The Monroe Street Bridge, also downtown Spokane, is another monumental effort in historic preservation. The bridge is a ponderous structure, lacking the industrial, graceless dignity of our own Murray Morgan Bridge, and it looms over what was once a sacred Native American site – the falls that were mangled for hydropower.

Oh, and there is beer everywhere.

Then, the differences start to smack you in the face.

The unavoidable, evil corporate shopping mall is not on the outskirts of town, but smack in the middle of downtown Spokane. From that shopping district, Spokane’s Riverfront is in walking distance, creating an urban vitality that Tacoma still struggles to harness.

The city’s Riverfront park was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair, which is credited with bringing Spokane back from the edge of extinction. In terms of immensity, accessibility, beauty, and amenities, the only park in Tacoma that could rival it is Point Defiance, which is nowhere near our downtown, while Tacoma’s waterfront parks along the Foss remain difficult to access and only tenuously connected to the main of downtown by comparison.

Tacoma has struggled to forge a relationship between pedestrian and vehicle traffic, but downtown Spokane is already charmingly walkable.

Impressive as Spokane’s Steam Plant may be, the restored Davenport Hotel is also a strong example of sensitive historic restoration. Stepping into that sumptuous lobby is like being transported into the opulence of the 1920s. Meanwhile, Tacoma’s grandest remaining historic hotel has fallen into disrepair and its unlikely rescue can’t be comfortably discussed.

Image courtesy of the Davenport Hotel Collection

Image courtesy of the Davenport Hotel Collection

Spokane’s culture shines in aspects beyond its civic virtues as well. There is a strong arts community in the area, which anyone can read about in The Pacific Northwest Inlander, an alternative weekly which is admittedly better than The Volcano and Post Defiance combined.

Surprisingly, the acclaimed Knitting Factory chain of concert houses (of New York City fame) has a location in downtown Spokane, hosting shows that beat the knickers off anything Tacomans could see at any of our vital non-existent venues.

The food and drink scene also has its own vitality. From El Que and The Elk, to Manito Taphouse, Spokane restaurateurs have figured out how to combine low prices, youthful atmosphere, sophisticated decor, discerningly-chosen alcohol, and creative meals of high quality – a balance Tacoma seems unable to achieve at any one location.

Spokane is focused on the future and seems to know where its lifeblood will come from. There are still large areas of urban blight, decaying industry, and thoughtless suburbanization within its borders, but on the whole, things seem to be moving in a better direction.

You may read these words and wonder, “If you love Spokane, why don’t you go live there?” The thing is, I don’t love Spokane. I love Tacoma, and want it to be a contender with a vibrant future. Tacomans are missing out if they can’t appreciate the similarities and differences of their eastern sister city. They might actually find inspiration there.

Nevertheless, I am accustomed to hearing people in Tacoma make disparaging comments about Spokane in a manner similar to the Seattle residents who gag out the name of our city. This dismissiveness seems improper, since there is little evidence that Tacoma offers advantages Spokane lacks.

Tacoma hasn’t beaten Spokane at shit, especially in terms of cultural development or attracting and retaining young careerists to contribute to the economy – the kind of people who will carry the city into the future. We can easily remedy that though, because we have some handy advantages.

Image courtesy of Manito Tap House

Image courtesy of Manito Tap House

Our proximity to Seattle surely hurts us in some ways, but it offers us benefits as well. We can learn from the finest innovators in the world, right at our northern doorstep. Spokane, on the other hand, is the biggest fish in its pond, and has to reach a little further when it runs short of expertise.

We have reason to set our expectations high in this abundantly creative region, but with a wealth of talent and creativity should also come constructive criticism and reasons to continue to strive. We do not need to praise dull mimicry or amateur effort from our artisans, officials, and purveyors when we have so many examples of success and excellence to look to.

Yet outside of RR Anderson’s regular comic aggression, I challenge you to find a negative review of a Tacoma institution (aside, perhaps from City Hall and the Northwest Detention Center). When a new business opens in Tacoma, media outlets practically race each other to heap praise upon it. I have a hard time believing that these evaluations of quality are accurate, because it is impossible for everything in Tacoma to be excellent.

The rarity of critical review suggests to me that Tacoma values investment over quality, and our praise is a way of saying, “Hey, we’re just glad you’re here,” while we tremble with the fresh memory of our pariah past.

Image Courtesy of Elk Fest

But we don’t have to just be grateful for any and all signs of life here anymore.

The ability to distinguish junk from food, twaddle from poetry, scribble from art, noise from music – or at least to state a preference between them – does not make one a hipster or a snob, but a participant in culture.

Cultural participation is not a threat to Tacoma’s working class identity. Our friends in Spokane have proven that scrappy industrial heritage is compatible with cultural evolution.

We have to choose: are we too gritty to give a shit about style, or do we truly want Tacoma to be a regional (if not national) competitor, an enviable place to live and work?

If we refuse to make that distinction, we won’t grow. We’ll be a sweat-stained, curmudgeonly suburb dependent upon Seattle’s table scraps.

Because of its welcoming attitude and supportive spirit, Tacoma is a very comfortable place to experiment as an entrepreneur. But a test kitchen isn’t a restaurant, and a laboratory isn’t a home, so at some point, we must require the kind of excellence that can sustain a vital and educated population.

While it is a wonderful thing to live in a city so eager to support and nurture its own, the environment of adulation becomes a handicap that diminishes our ability to perceive Tacoma for what it is, or at least what it is in relation to comparable cities.

If we fail to learn from the successes of Seattle and Spokane, and if we can’t reconcile with our broadened range of possibilities, maybe we’ll continue to lose population contests to Spokane.

And really, fuck that. This is Destiny City. Destiny City wins.

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About the Author

Founder of Post Defiance, Dan is a father, surveyor, writer, and runner.



40 Responses to Spokane is Better than Tacoma

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I totally agree. Having lived in Spokane for several years, I regularly experienced people who would talk poorly about it, despite them never actively seeking out it’s incredible culture, music, and art scene, which was thriving. It’s easier to diss cities like Spokane and Tacoma because the culture isn’t as blatantly obvious as it is in a big city like Seattle. I know of so many creative, incredible people making Spokane into an amazing place. I see that happening here in Tacoma as well, but I think you’re definitely right in noting that Spokane is more of a hub for it’s entire region, where Tacoma struggles with the competition of Seattle and Olympia.

    The way some people say “Spokane” you’d think someone shoved dog shit in their face, and that has always bothered me. Instead of hating a place for it’s lack of culture, maybe go find it, maybe go contribute to it, maybe start loving on the place you call home and it will start loving back. I believe Tacoma has challenges to creating its own thriving community, and you’ve beautifully stated them here, but I know so many people who love this place with an unrivaled voracity, and I hope that it will become contagious. I believe that underdog cities like Spokane and Tacoma attract a certain kind of tenacious, down to earth type, and it creates a unique culture that a place like Seattle can’t hope to replicate. We’ve got the resources to make Tacoma what it wants to be, we just have to get our shit together and get those creative, entrepreneurial, culture creators the resources and encouragement to start making this city awesome. And maybe it just starts with changing the way people talk about Tacoma. Once we start saying Tacoma is awesome, we might start believing Tacoma is awesome, and then we’ll start making Tacoma awesome.

    • Dan Rahe says:

      i think the enthusiasm about Tacoma is needed. we need to feel good about where we live. I’m glad people are being open to talking about our new set of weaknesses as we progress into a future made possible by the hard work of those who put an end to our city’s decay.

  2. That title..

    Initially I wanted to cut a bitch.

    I feel that tacoma is growing, and changing, there has never been a more exciting time to live here. Tacoma has a lot of great things going for it, we just need to turn it around.

  3. Chris says:

    While there are a lot of issues with this post, one thing that Dan didn’t mention was that Spokane’s transit system is based on a grid. See the system map, here: http://www.spokanetransit.com/files/routes-schedules/System_Map_2013_p1.pdf

    Grid systems with high frequency trunk routes that intersect at multiple points throughout the city make it easier to rely on convenient, frequent service for more trips than just the daily commute to work.

    Tacoma’s system is based mostly on hourly headways. We’ve made some progress towards the structure of the system, but we definitely need more service to match the efficiency of Spokane’s grid.

    • Dan Rahe says:

      that’s a great comment Chris. It was hard to find a focused path through this topic, and I would have loved to delve more into the issues of urban livability. Another topic, as one reader mention on twitter, is that Tacoma is a markedly more diverse city than almost any other in the state (census data confirms). This also plays a role in how Tacoma has developed. It’s a huge topic. But i wanted to zero in on the part of the comparison that most highlighted the strange way Tacoma talks about itself.

      • Chris says:

        What I’ve been keenly aware of in terms of how the city talks about itself is that there has always been a tinge of self-deprecation that, in my opinion, has held us back from working towards greatness. The kind of “It’ll never happen, don’t try that” attitude – especially from the Tribune, drives me crazy.

        In my own blogging I sought to walk the line between 1) poking at where the City and other government entities can improve and 2) keeping people up-to-date with more optimistic posts about things that we are doing right or things that we can do. What I think you’re on to is the fact that we aren’t doing enough things that are having a big enough impact to offset the crap that we are doing wrong.

  4. Rize says:

    Article was OK, I definite agreed w/ the Knitting Factory point. However, the author fails to bring-up a huge difference between these cities. When he speaks of “culture”, he is almost entirely speaking about museum, art, & restaurant culture. He brings up some examples that show Spokane has these more than Tacoma. However, that is just one very narrow-minded, white, middle-class way of looking at culture. Another way to look at culture is to look at different groups or peoples culture. Spokane is almost entirely all-white. 86.7% of their population is white – compared to 60.5% white in Tacoma. Spokane only has a 2.3% African-American population compared to 10.7% in Tacoma. Hispanic breakdown is 11.3% in Tacoma compared to 5% in Spokane. 8.1% Asian in Tacoma, compared to 2.5% in Spokane. To say Spokane has more culture is just not true. I guess if you are a dull white-person who views culture as a museum displaying European/white-american art as culture than that might be the only way to view Spokane having more culture. This article was written entirely from a white-person’s perspective of what culture is. Does Spokane have a Juneteenth Celebration or Hip-Hop in the Park? Do they have strong African-American Churches who throw large celebrations, festivals, and gatherings every year. Do they have a large Asian Cultural Center? Do they have anything that compares to Ethnic Fest? This article shows Post Defiance is written by and for white-folks. This article showed a very Ethnocentric view of what culture is. No wonder only people that live in the North End & or near Post Defiance read this blog. Shame on the author for ignoring lots of culture that he apparently doesn’t experience in our city of Tacoma.

    • Dan Rahe says:

      i looked at those same numbers and am working on another article about that. Tacoma is unique in this state because of its diversity. This has a great impact on our arts. I went deep into the census figures, but ended up deciding that was worthy of another article itself. Heck, we could get together and collaborate on it maybe.

      I hope you won’t mind too much if I say, though, that I talked about historic preservation, usable public space, attracting new residents, rigorous critique, community support, working-class hang-ups, etc… I didn’t say anything about museums or galleries or whatever.

      I said Spokane has some things dialed in with smart use of municipal assets. I didn’t say they have more culture.

      I think, what it comes down to, is that you have genuine concerns about people like me. I can understand that. I’m not ethnocentric. I’m not as educated as you are on issues related to race, and i don’t have your experiences. So I definitely appreciate your perspective and input.

      Maybe there are some things I say and do that fit into silly stereotypes. That’s true of all of us. We’re all ridiculous. I’m probably annoying, but I’m not trying to marginalize any aspect of culture. Maybe at PD we don’t talk about certain topics. But they get talked about in other places. It’s like, you don’t go to Starbucks for tires. And you can’t call Starbucks out for not selling tires.

      • pesha says:

        if its that difficult for folks to find non-white culture in Tacoma and u need some kind of guide like asking some blogger to show u, then or just not trying. hard enough. take off our eurocentric lenses and maybe you’ll see it with our own eyes.

        also, yeah pt defiance doesnt & probably shouldnt write about culture they dont know about. ur starbucks, dont try & sell tires. so, use culture appropriatley, like instead of culture maybe, in this instance, replace it with what your really talkin about, architecture, city planning & developing, trendy white hang-outs & all that stuff white folks call culture.

    • Perhaps instead of taking a stance of negativity towards those of us who just aren’t aware of what the city has to offer for minorities, you can point us in the right directions. (You’ve started.) We can learn to appreciate each other without the strife.

      There’s no reason to create a slippery slope over a slight oversight simply because the author just doesn’t know about those things or chose not to include it because he felt it better for its own article.

      • Rize says:

        Ignoring nearly all the rich cultural diversity and awesomeness that all the different people who live in Tacoma have, is not a “slight oversight”. It’s ignorance and kind of racist. Just go do it already. Go meet people. Go to events. Join groups that care about social-justice. The onus is on you. Ya can gripe about how my post ruffled your feathers, but whatever. Just climb out of yo bubbles & explore the different neighborhoods and people this city has. Talk to people in those communities. Befriend them. Respect them. Learn from them. Value them.

        • Pulling the race card on an article that didn’t even mention it isn’t even kind of racist on your part, it’s completely racist.

          Respect isn’t one-sided.

          • Rize says:

            @ Stephen Battey, Racism is not acknowledging and talking about race. Racism is a global system of white-supremacy. Who did ya study under? The fact that this article spoke of culture in a completely ethnocentric way is subtle-racism. Ignoring the positives that many races bring to Tacoma when speaking about Tacoma culture is negligent racism at best.

          • Dan Rahe says:

            of course the racism in this article is subtle! if it was obvious, my sneaky plan to subjugate other cultures would be ruined!

      • pesha says:

        no that’s incorrect. color-blind racism is one of the most common types in Tacoma. people think as long u don’t mention or talk about race then u can’t be racist. absolutely, positively wrong. if u don’t “see” race or color or ignore it that is definitley a form of racism that tacomans and north westerners mistake as being culturally sensitive. a colorblind approach to racism was outed as lame & wrong in the 90’s. if u don’t acknowledge race then u can’t speak on culture.

      • pesha says:

        again, if u can’t go out ur house & find culture & u have to ask for some kind d of cultural guide to the city, u just ain’t lookin hard enough. & that is dangerously close to exploitation. what’s next? a bus tour of the different cultural enclaves of Tacoma? it reminds me in sf when they would tour the “gay neighborhoods” to see the gay people. its not that hard to find if its important to u.

    • Katy Evans says:

      Rize – there are consistent threats to the strengths of all of Tacoma’s diverse culture; just this year Hip Hop in the Park didn’t happen due to funding and support issues and our young artists of all races, creeds, sexuality, and ability do not have consistent venues to express themselves.

      The issues may not be identical but similar issues that hinder “northend”/”white” Tacoma culture effect other neighborhoods as well. Its not like northend or even downtown neighborhoods are just overflowing with incredible restaurants and all-ages venues and community galleries. When it comes down to it, Tacoma does not prop up, celebrate, and share – even at a regional level – its strengths from any cultural facet with any real aplomb or aptitude. Which is something Post Defiance is specifically trying to address.

      Our city’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths and we, all of us, continue to have few accessible venues and avenues to engage consistently with it.

    • Spencer says:

      Rize, your response doesn’t even seem to address the article as it is written. To say the author didn’t include enough minority culture, and then sarcastically put culture in quotes when talking about museums and art speaks to the hypocrisy of your point of view. To say the author shouldn’t talk about some culture that he is familiar with and focus on other culture he is not sounds ridiculous. If you want your comments to be taken seriously, and not to be confused with the angry ramblings of a child, maybe you should A: write your own article using your own experience and knowledge base to educate or enlighten the rest of us, or B: make a coherent point or criticism about the article that isn’t insulting or sarcastic. Your obvious disgust of white culture is poisoning your perspective.
      P.S. Are you tagging my neighborhood? If so, please stop.

      • Rize says:

        All my peoples appreciated what I wrote. It’s pretty plain & simple. Ignoring whole groups of people when you are talking about a city is pretty lame and narrow-minded. The article talks about “culture” frequently. I’m not the one putting it in there in quotes. I’m just referencing what was written in the piece. Should we not comment on the article? Ya just want us to write our own piece, well um OK – but what would be the point of the comment section then? I’ve written plenty on this subject. What made ya think I hadn’t? Ya can take issue with me bringing up the fact that this article was lily-white, or ya take issue with the fact that the article was lily-white. Ya can choose. Ya can get upset at me for bringing up the fact that this article talking about the culture of two entire cities city ignored everything that wasn’t white. Or ya can just admit that it was an ethnocentric circle-jerk. What is yo neighborhood? I’ll be sure to hit it extra hard with the most militant graffiti I can think of, ha. Telling people that are exposing racism and ethnocentrism as the “confused ramblings of a child” make ya sound tea-baggish & Bill O’Reilly like.

        • James says:

          “All my peoples appreciated what I wrote.”

          That’s what is called confirmation bias.

          • Rize says:

            All I did was offer-up the other stuff in Tacoma that the author was sorely missing. The original article was biased as fuck. Ya have a problem with me pointing out that the original article, which is supposed to be ’bout the WHOLE city of Tacoma – left out entire populations & their cultural contributions to the city!?

  5. bethann says:

    I lived in Spokane for 4 years in the 1980’s and loved it. I became an accidental occupant of Tacoma (after 12 years in Puyallup) and love Tacoma also, particularly Downtown, the Stadium, Proctor and 6th Avenue districts. The mall? Wish I enjoyed it the way I once did.

    I have visited Spokane several times the past few years, and what surprised me is that while it has grown (where there was once a pasture on the north end is an apartment complex), there are many treasures there that are the same. The downtown shopping area is decent–and pedestrian friendly, thanks to the skywalks. My favorite childhood parking garage was demolished in the 1970;s–you would get out of your car and they would use a thing sort of like a fork lift to put it up in a spot. I still remember that when visited my aunt there as a child!

    But you can still eat at The Onion. There are great hotels along the river, walking distance to a beautiful city part (Riverfront Park). They have other great parks throughout the city.

    We need to do a better job with our parks, and yes, with our transit. And Tacoma has to embrace what it is and quit trying to compete with Seattle. No more talk of something to rival the Space Needle–we don’t need that. We have a beautiful Museum of Glass and the fantastic Washington State History Museum (I am a bit ashamed to admit I have not made it to the Tacoma Art Museum in several years, but I plan to change that this fall).

    UWT in downtown is a great start. Now we need more shopping to go WITH the office buildings and apartments.

    And more green space. And DOWNTOWN events. Bed Races, or something fun that is also community building.

  6. Larry Zarelli says:

    Tacoma is more urban, with population twice Spokane.. If we annexed Parkland, Waller, Midland and open areas on the east side..Tacoma city zone would be over 300,000, with the rest ofPierce County with 600,000 ..the size of the entire county of Spokane. We draw from Seattle media and we are over 25% of all Seattle profit in any direction…which lessens Tacomas hold on any monopoly in business or attendance in all activity in the region. Everything is further away, but more diversified. More sports, variety, museums and such. In Spokane..the farm areas are within sooner reach. More of a multi-family suburban area of life.

  7. No Dorky’s in Spokane… Tacoma wins

  8. Tim Robinson says:

    Great essay. Funny, it was posted and/or I read it on the very same day that a Spokane chef (Jeremy Hansen, Sante) was preparing a meal, by invitation, for 80 at the James Beard Foundation House in NYC. Manito Tap House…the Elk…El Que are great. But if you want fine dining, try any one of several top flight Spokane restaurants. There is a lot to discover beyond fun pubs.

  9. Tac Town says:

    Spokane doesn’t have Puget Sound. That’s the knock-out punch that can’t be ignored. Waterfront dining on a sunny day in August… no comparison.

    http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2013/08/16/tourist-tacoma-surf-and-turf-restaurants-with-waterfront-views/

  10. Earl Vernon says:

    It’s the people who live in Tacoma who are warm, friendly and inclusive that make Tacoma a better city than Spokane!

    • Ms. K says:

      Born and raised in Spokane, I can say that I’ve experienced more warmth and inclusivity there than anywhere in the Puget Sound. When I’ve said I grew up in Spokane to folks from Tacoma, I get a disgusted look and either, “Ugh, Spokane,” or a snarky, “I’m sorry.”

      More than this, I’ve had to stand up to more bigotry and hatred (racism, classism, homophobia) in my 8 years here than in 20 in Spokane. Obviously, this is just my experience, but I’ve lived it just as you’ve lived yours.

      I’m sure that there are friendly and not friendly people in both places, but I have to call bullshit on Tacoma “winning” that one 😉

  11. Marion (Morf) Morford says:

    I’m a native of Tacoma, and write about it fairly regularly. You can see my latest love-hate piece here (http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/08/13/2732235/tacomas-heritage-strange-but-one.html).

    Tacoma’s problem (and blessing) is its total variability; steep hills, great views of water and mountains, unbelievable ethnic mix (and great ethnic events, eateries and shops) fabulous parks and lots of vintage old and creative new homes.

    Perhaps Tacoma is too scattered. Our lack of a civic gathering center is a problem.

    As perhaps a typical Tacoma native, I have mixed feelings about my place here. Sometimes I feel ready to leave, but Tacoma is home and I know it well, possibly too well.

  12. Pingback: Spokane Better than Tacoma: My “Response”

  13. As a Spokie active in community development who recently visited Tacoma and came away remarking to my girlfriend, “motherfucker, they’re beating us!” This article makes me feel many things.

    The most important thing being this: let’s build some sort of interstate second-city support group where we help each other come into our own. Reference each other — successes, failures — so that we don’t have to reference Seattle, or worse, Portland, so much.

    Sound like fun?

  14. Michael says:

    Spokane has the advantage of being the center of its TV and radio media market. Ours will always be focused on Seattle. I’m not sure how we compensate for that, but blogs like this one help. So would a local alternative weekly that wasn’t the half-assed, semi-illiterate entertainment section of a military rag. Anyway, I don’t think the problem is too little criticism of mediocrity in local media, it’s that we have way too little local media.

    On the other hand, Tacomans are close enough to enjoy cultural events throughout the Puget Sound area that Spokane is too small, isolated, and homogenous to match. As someone noted above, Pierce County has a much larger and more diverse population than Spokane County, which is why Tacoma feels a little bigger than Spokane despite its smaller population (it’s also why we have much worse freeway traffic).

  15. Terry W says:

    I get a little tired of all the trash talk about the smaller Washington cities. Spokane is a fun town, so are the Tri-Cities and Yakima. And all the bullshit about culture….. Spokane is I’m guessing 12% to 15% more White than Tacoma, so we are more *diverse* somehow? Yuck! Spokane has it’s own truck stop/country music flavor that rivals anything in the State for home grown culture. Drive or take the train across the mountains and find it for yourself. And Spokane has the greatest sporting event in the State! (and just maybe the whole USA) Hoopfest! http://www.spokanehoopfest.net/Pages/default.aspx

  16. Bonnie Jake says:

    The Weekly Volcano would never publish something stupid like this

  17. kelly says:

    As a Spokanite who lived abroad for thirteen years, it was amazing to see how much the city had grown and changed. Spokane many always have a “white trash” image compared to Tacoma, which will always be far more diverse than Spokane, as well as less area to grown which may have a larger feel than Spokane.

    We no longer have a zoo here, and I would say Tacoma has better restaurants. The transit system was changed years ago, however it used to go through neighborhoods, however now use the main roads through the city. I can still get downtown in 15-20 minutes.

    I miss the old hockey rivalry between the cities, and perhaps I could make more money in Tacoma, but safety and less traffic and crime in a city about the same size goes a long way.

    We could work together as cities, instead of thinking one city is better. Just a thought from a person from the right side of the state.

  18. Dave says:

    I am moving back to Chicago long story short, the culture is bull shit, if you are
    not from here it takes a long to develop relationships with other people, and since
    weed became legal it just added more empty heads to the other idiot’s that live
    here.

  19. Dave says:

    I am moving back to Chicago long story short, the culture is bull shit, if you are
    not from here it takes a long time to develop relationships with other people, and since
    weed became legal it just added more empty heads to the other idiot’s that live
    here.

  20. Don Murphy says:

    The population figures are very misleading and always have been. Tacoma is actually much bigger than Spokane. Yes, if you go strictly by the proper city limits of each, Spokane is slightly larger. But if you look at the metropolitan Tacoma vs Metropolitan Spokane populations, there is no comparison. The “REAL” figures should be Pierce County vs Spokane County. This way you get the entire populations of the city centrals plus all the suburbs around each city. These figures are hugely different.

    Tacoma city proper (2017) 211,277
    Spokane city proper (2017) 215,973
    Tacoma-Pierce County Metro (2015) 843,954
    Spokane County Metro (2015) 490,945

    These are the real numbers one should use when comparing the two cities for population.

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