Ask Us!
University of Washington Libraries

Tacoma Then and Again: Rephotographing the City of Destiny

Union Station (Tacoma, WA)
Union Station (Tacoma, WA)

This database contains a growing collection of rephotography—or what is commonly called “then and now” photography—of buildings, streets, neighborhoods, and parks in Tacoma. High quality digital scans of historic photographs of Tacoma’s urban core have been paired with contemporary digital photos shot from the same vantages. The goal of this project is to demonstrate through photography the ways that the landscape, environment, and architecture of Tacoma have both changed and remained the same.

The first phase of this project focused on photographs taken by Steve Cysewski in the late 1970s. These images, now housed at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room, capture the downtown area during an era when many of the magnificent downtown buildings were neglected and had fallen into disrepair. In the summer of 2008, Steve returned to Tacoma to reshoot a selection photos, 125 of which appear in this database.

In future phases of this project, we intend to identify additional historic photographs of Tacoma and reshoot them. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please contact:

Justin Wadland
Head, Media and Visual Resources
University of Washington Tacoma Library

"That was then--this is again: Photos show UW Tacoma's past, present" by Beth Luce (UW Tacoma). Read the full UWeek article here.

About the database

This database was made possible by funding from the University of Washington Tacoma Founders Endowment. Justin Wadland, Head, Media and Visual Resources at the UW Tacoma Library selected the images for reshooting and served as project manager. David Johnson, a former graduate student at the UW Information School, helped identify sites and cataloged the images. We would also like to thank Jean Fisher and the other staff at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room for their assistance and for providing access Steve Cysewski’s images.

Reproductions of images can be requested via The Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room.


We would like to thank the UW Tacoma Founders Endowment Committee for awarding funds to support this project.

We would like to acknowledge the expertise and support of the Tacoma Then and Again Database Advisory Committee:

This project would not have been possible without the excellent work of the staff at the Tacoma Public Library Northwest Room, especially the Pierce County Building Index, created and maintained by Brian Kamens.

Also, special thanks Dayton Knipher for photographing the first day of the project.

Snoqualmie Falls Power Co. Transfer House/ UW Tacoma Library (Tacoma, WA)
Snoqualmie Falls Power Co. Transfer House/ UW Tacoma Library (Tacoma, WA)

Back to top

Follow Us:

Twitter Flickr