TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Sep. 24, 2009 at 11:20am

Downtown's Lost Block

Archived photos show Pac Ave's erased history

When the Luzon Building is knocked down this weekend, it will be a significant loss to Tacoma's architectural history. It will also mark the loss of yet another old building that once comprised a stretch of Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. In the five years I've been at the Tacoma Daily Index, I've heard from many people about all the other old buildings along Pac Ave (and surrounding the Luzon) that were torn down.

This week, the Index was made aware of photographs documenting some of this activity during the 1980s. The photographs appeared online yesterday and will be published in our print edition Friday. They offer a fascinating look at downtown and Pacific Avenue -- near the Luzon -- in earlier years. They also appear to complement the amazing work done by Stephen Cysewski.

The four photographs come to the newspaper thanks to Ken House (a former archivist at Weyerhaeuser, a former member of Historic Tacoma's Board of Directors, and currently a commissioner on the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission) and with permission from Megan Moholt, Research Archivist at Weyerhaeuser. The photographs were taken by Columbia Cornerstone Development Company (Photo Collection 2008-7), courtesy of Weyerhaeuser Archives.

Links to the photos/article are here (PDF) and here (WEB).

comments [37]  |  posted under Downtown, Luzon, Tacoma


by NSHDscott on 9/24/2009 @ 11:54am
Man, if you ever get frustrated that Tacoma's renaissance is happening a little too slowly, just click that link and take a look at Cysewski's photos. We've come a long way.

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/24/2009 @ 12:27pm
These are the good old days.

That block of Pac Ave, the side of the street that included the Luzon, was a shadowy corridor where no honest man would want to walk.

by fredo on 9/24/2009 @ 12:29pm
Some nice photos of downtown. We've managed to save and rehabilitate quite a few of the structures shown. Unfortunately, the city leaders couldn't seem to see the potential in the Luzon block and that's all gone now. Well, at least we still have the recipes from Bimbo's Restaurant and once our leaders figure out how to capitalize on them we'll all be rich beyond our wildest you hear me? Rich, rich rich!

by Nick on 9/24/2009 @ 3:27pm
Woah, check it out - just noticed there's a photo of the old Sauro building. You know, the one that's now a cratered block and being cleaned up:

Would have thought it was taller to warrant such a deep basement. Can't say I'm disappointed that building bit the dust.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/24/2009 @ 8:32pm
Sauro's Cleanerama was the original Greyhound station before it was the Cleanerama. Greyhound moved from the location because the drive through became too small for the new larger buses. It really was an interesting building back in the day it was a bus station.

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/24/2009 @ 9:29pm
Here's some more Pac Ave bus station trivia:
Back when the Cysewski photos were shot, 1979, the corner of 8th & Pacific which now has a former Venture Bank, was the Trailways Bus Station. The drive through is still there. The building was very open with a continuous row of windows on both the Pacific Ave and the 8th Street side. It had a lunch counter too, kinda slow paced on food prep. The building also housed May's Tavern, complete with a pool table and a steady clientele from a large printing company that was directly across 8th Street. Across the alley from May's was the Park Hotel which was demolished to make way for the Bank of America.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/24/2009 @ 9:59pm
Of course the Trailways ended up moving south on Pacific. For a while they were at the location of the current Chuckal's. They too had a lunch counter when they were in business there. I don't suspect anyone knows the name of the lunch counter.

by NineInchNachos on 9/24/2009 @ 10:10pm
I like the old timer trivia. thanks!

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/24/2009 @ 10:19pm
for everything I miss about old Tacoma, there is something that I surely don't.

Interesting juxtaposition...

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/24/2009 @ 11:21pm
A whole lot of energy has been put into telling the Luzon story recently (And don't even think about juxtaposing my energy statement with dimwitted global warming theories.)

It's easy to project one's feelings about saving the Luzon in the context of 2009. The local media has offered vintage photos, and idealized illustrations, including versions of the latter which were posted on the Luzon property.

Pacific Avenue has been in transition since the first days of Tacoma.

But you know, even with all the recorded history and living eye-witnesses to recent changes, there's always going to be a segment of the population that just can't grasp the significance of it all.

Somehow those types, usually reactionary 20-somethings, find each other and meet monthly at a local tattoo parlor with wi-fi where they plot out ways to restore Pacific Avenue's original horse trails.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/25/2009 @ 12:55am
Horse trails will be incredibly useful after the Great Crash caused by Peak Oil and the Great Comuppance, lead by the Third Great Satan of the Far West who will arrive on the Fourth White Horse, bearing down upon the Great Nation as Conquest, the first Horseman of the Great Apocalypse, symbolizing both Civil War and Strife, laying apon the Earth the Great Chastisement and Great Plague, in which a Great Host of the Unworthy Souls shall be separated like upon Chaff from the Wheat.

No, really. Totally useful after December 2012.

by morgan on 9/25/2009 @ 6:38am
Great story, Todd! What a shame those old buildings couldn't have been renovated. Much better than a surface parking lot.

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2009 @ 9:55am

Positively infuriating! The city, more so than the Luzon, is really falling down on this one.

by NineInchNachos on 9/25/2009 @ 10:42am
you wanna be truly horrified read the comments on that TNT link kevin.

man I hate TNT commenters!

by KevinFreitas on 9/25/2009 @ 11:13am
This is getting seriously intense!
Here's a stream of Tweets too (just refresh to see any new "Luzon" posts):

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/25/2009 @ 11:38am
This actually is pretty fascinating. Folks didn't do this for the brewery that imploded itself last year nor for Sauros. Hm... maybe folks have elevated the Luzon from "historical building" to a symbol of Tacoma?
Kinda appropriate, and would be epically awesome if the thing did get saved and rehabbed in short order.

Very interesting.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/25/2009 @ 11:44am
We can certainly hope....

by NSHDscott on 9/25/2009 @ 12:04pm
TOT, I think you're spot-on that the Luzon has become more than just a historic building, it's become a symbol of sorts. I can say I've grown fond of seeing that ugly duckling reflected in the gold squares of the building across the street, and of that tree that's been growing out of the side of it for as long as I can remember (14 years living in Tacoma to date). It's really an easy building to root for.

Tacoma could use some good news (although we aren't doing that bad lately, with Elks Temple and Pacific Plaza and now Sonic coming to 6th Ave) and saving the Luzon would be good news indeed.

by NineInchNachos on 9/25/2009 @ 1:14pm
Erik Anderson: "screw you guys, the luzon is coming down If I have to do it with my bare hands"

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 9/25/2009 @ 1:15pm
I noticed a couple TV news camera vans parked on Commerce Street and near the Luzon while on a walk through downtown during the noon lunch hour. One person was shooting video from the south end of Pacific Plaza.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/25/2009 @ 2:34pm
It's a strange relationship... the Luzon IS Tacoma... it's run down, neglected and in danger of being mowed down for a parking lot. We want to root for it as an underdog.

I just hope, that if it gets saved that they do it in short order before the economy dives further south. However, should it's time have come, I hope we don't end up with another parking lot for 4 decades.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/25/2009 @ 3:00pm
What did Erik Anderson promise to who? I think if I had a group of experts propose a last-minute rescue, I would at least read the engineering reports from the third parties, that is unless I had no intention to listening to anything they had to say to begin with....

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/25/2009 @ 3:01pm
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

by NineInchNachos on 9/25/2009 @ 3:08pm
according to the TNT Mr. Anderson put his fingers in his ears and changed: dontcaredontcaredontcaredontcare till the meeting was over.

lives are at risk!

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/25/2009 @ 3:13pm
"and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them"

Was God afraid of Men? Interesting, interesting. Too bad He didn't leave it, we'd have Martian colonies and teleporters by now.

by morgan on 9/25/2009 @ 3:34pm
From the TNT article:
After a 50-minute meeting at the Municipal Building, city manager Eric Anderson was unconvinced that a plan existed to mitigate the danger.

"From what I've heard so far, I don't see how we don't go forward tomorrow," Anderson told the group. "My legal charge is health and safety. My personal preference is for preservation, but if someone is damaged by the building if it falls, that's no defense for me."

This still does not explain how tearing down the building makes more sense than stabilizing it. If the fear is that it is going to fall down and kill somebody, then stabilize it! But seriously, how can anyone get killed by it when nobody walks downtown?

by morgan on 9/25/2009 @ 3:35pm
Historian Michael Sullivan summed it up well:

Anderson said the city has spent years trying to find a solution and he has a legal obligation to ensure people's safety.

"The law says you have to stop a fleeing criminal too," Sullivan said, "but you don't have to shoot him in the head."

Anderson did not think much of that comment, responding with "Oh, God." He then reiterated that none of the information presented to him had changed his mind.

by Erik on 9/25/2009 @ 3:50pm
Demolition by neglect and apathy.

by Nick on 9/25/2009 @ 4:07pm
Looks to me like another "too little, too late" loss for Tacoma. It does give me hope for the future that so many of us have rallied behind preserving it. I can't say for sure, but I don't think that was a common theme during Tacoma's recent dark ages, out of which we are climbing.

So even if we lose this battle, the optimist in me thinks that perhaps we are simply seeing the last of the casualties from those years of "neglect and apathy."

by NineInchNachos on 9/25/2009 @ 4:10pm
By erik anderson's criteria we should demolish the winthrop now too. It could fall down also. heck any building could fall down in an earthquake. You are not safe anywhere.

by The Jinxmedic on 9/25/2009 @ 4:21pm
New "Ocryx and Joe" on the subject, but I forgot to put in Ocryx and Joe. Oops.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/25/2009 @ 5:24pm
Let's photograph the hell out of it, look up as much technical information as possible and rebuild it's clone on the same lot.

by KevinFreitas on 9/26/2009 @ 9:38am
Posted my Luzon demolition pics from this morning.

by Nick on 9/26/2009 @ 4:38pm
Definitely a sad day for Tacoma. As much as I am unhappy with those who pushed for this demo without even considering alternatives, I think the real crime of neglect was committed long before.

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/26/2009 @ 6:11pm
"I think the real crime of neglect was committed long before."


by Erik on 9/26/2009 @ 6:26pm
The Eagles Building fell down on its own just a few years ago a few blocks away.

How long until Tacoma loses other historical buildings such as the Winthrop, Old City Hall or the Elks?

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/26/2009 @ 9:09pm
Or the Murray Morgan?


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