Seattle proper, the champion of them all (rightly so) is surrounded on three sides by satellite cities. I come from the East Side, centered around the thriving Bellevue. My side of Seattle is sometimes known as the snotty side. Microsoftees, dot-commers and other random millionaires (not in my neighborhood, but around) may justify the reputation. Regardless, though many would deny it, there's an unspoken air of self-importance from the East Siders in regards to the other regions of Seattle. The North End has its hub in Everett, though I will admit that I often forget that anything is up there. In my head it goes Downtown-Northgate-Wilderness-Canadian Border. My brothers' new company is starting in Lake Stevens, though, so the area is officially on the radar.
I know plenty of cities in the The South End, and don't think poorly of them, but somehow their value is clouded by the perceived Tacoma Aroma- a distinct smell wafting from Tacoma's manufacturing district. Apparently the sulfur/arsenic pollution was cleaned by the time I hit high school, but the damage was done and the reputation remains.
Well, I am here to say that I am an East Side Snob no longer (I never really was, I promise!). I spent some time down south last week and while Fife is yet to impress me (any city with a 'Diabetes Shoppe' makes me a little nervous), Tacoma has won my respect.
The city doesn't smell (apparently unless the wind blows from the east), and while the manufacturing plants aren't so beautiful, the historic downtown is just perfect. Red brick buildings, my favorite kind of suspension bridge and tons of GLASS.
The Chihuly Glass Museum is right on the marina, named for the oh so famous Tacoma native, Dale Chihuly. Chihuly's known for his Wonka-style glass works - I've seen them displayed in the Salt Lake's Abravanel Hall and floating in a pond in a Chicago greenhouse. Glassworks are all over Tacoma (I took pictures of the way more welcoming than my town's City Hall, Flickr has much better shots than mine). Tacoma has officially won me over.