Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stopping... to consider Tacoma.

Tacoma native Murray Morgan wrote much of the famous Seattle history narrative "Skid Road" while serving as a bridge tender here, high atop the span that would later bear his name. It's remarkable, especially if you're into objects that exude pure mechanicalness from every square inch.

Amid safety concerns, the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic in 2004... and its fate is now unclear. Much like Tacoma itself, the span seems to teeter on some unseen precipice — praise and permanence on one side, disregard and decay on the other.

There is a new Eleventh Street Bridge now, just a little farther down the waterway, and it's a real beauty... modern, artful, metropolitan. Seems the questions will soon come again: Can we move Tacoma forward without allowing its past to be erased? Is it possible to craft a new urban environment that embraces the grit and industry that built this town? Or are we already down a path that will whitewash history with short-sighted planning and "me too" construction?

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