Sixth Avenue: The heart of Tacoma

Sixth Ave shows off our city’s personality through shops, restaurants and history. 

Between Wright and Titlow park is a long and straight road that cuts directly through the middle of the city. If you are looking to understand Tacoma’s past and present a little more, look no further than Sixth Ave.  

In the 1920s, there used to be a ferry that ran from the end of Sixth Ave to Point Fosdick, the Sixth Ave Ferry. Its dock was on the beach where the 1963 Octopus Wrestling Championships were held. You can still see the ruins of the old ferry terminal at Titlow.  

Around the same time, Harvey Cook Weaver bought five acres of land on Titlow Beach and built a massive studio sound stage. Sixth Ave was dubbed the “Hollywood by the Sea” before the Great Depression came and Weaver Productions was forced to shut down. After that the sound stage was a ballroom for some time until it burned down in a fire. The city of Destiny was once the city of dreams. Now we have Titlow Park and the three silent films produced here to remember those dreams by.  

Today, the middle of Sixth Ave is Tacoma’s busiest business district. Grab lunch at MSM Deli and walk over to one of the many record stores like Hi-Voltage Records or Janku Land, another Sixth Ave specialty. Grab a gourmet hot dog at The Red Hot and check out some tabletop games at Elegant Octopus Games. Thrift for a hidden gem at Scorpio Rising or craft your own magical incense oils at Crescent Moon Gifts. There is lots to do and see between Sprague and Alder. 

While you are there, check out the signs posted on windows or taped to telephone poles. What events are happening? What art pieces are painted on the building’s walls? Sixth Ave is one long road that cuts through Tacoma and brings the city together. There is an interesting attitude to this part of Tacoma. Sixth Ave is an eclectic street bursting with personality and history. I hope to continue to see it thrive in its collective weirdness.  

One of Sixth Avenue’s many murals. Photo by Cameron Berrens.