Point Defiance: Life of a Park  
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Hare & Hare report to park commissioners - 1911
Point Defiance Park at a Glance
  Established:
1841 - Point Defiance appears on Charles Wilkes' map as the first known recorded use of the name.
1866 - President Andrew Johnson sets aside 640 acres of Point Defiance for possible future use as a military reservation.
1888 - President Grover Cleveland signs legislation to allow Tacoma to develop the unused military reservation as a park.
1905 - President Theodore Roosevelt signs legislation granting Point Defiance Park to Tacoma.

Acreage: 702 acres, 105 of which are maintained

Location: 5400 North Pearl Street, Tacoma, Washington

Gardens: 8 gardens featuring roses, rhododendrons, northwest native plantings, iris, herbs, fuchsias and dahlias and a Japanese Garden.

Attractions:
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium - The animal collection started in 1891 with two deer and a possum. The Zoo & Aquarium is now a 29-acre regional educational and cultural destination with 792 animals.

Fort Niqually - Fort Nisqually is a reconstructed British Hudson's Bay Company fur trading and farming post, established in 1833 near the present town of Dupont, Washington. It was moved to its current location in 1933.

Pagoda - A focal point of Point Defiance Park's Japanese Garden, the 1914 Pagoda is a replica of a 17th century Japanese Lodge and was originally used as a streetcar station. Today it can be rented for meetings, weddings or parties.

Lodge - One of the earliest features of the park that still survives today, the Lodge provided a home for the park superintendent. Built with colonial verandah encircling the house, the Lodge remained an official staff residence until 1980. Today it can be rented for meetings, weddings or parties.

Gardens - The first gardens were located near the Lodge. While the Rose Garden is in its original 1895 site, more recently established gardens have been located a bit further afield but are still concentrated in the southern half of the park. Today they are maintained by Metro Parks in partnership with various horticultural interest groups.

Five Mile Drive and Old Growth Forest - Winding through Point Defiance Park's old growth forest, Five Mile Drive offers vistas of Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Tacoma Narrows and Narrows Bridge, Vashon Island and Gig Harbor. Viewpoints provide opportunities to relax, picnic and take pictures. The drive is closed to vehicles on Saturday mornings.

Hiking and Running trails - Over 10 miles of hiking and running trails wind through the old-growth forest allowing visitors to have a wilderness experience without leaving the city limits.

Owen Beach - Named in 1959 in honor of Floyd Owens, a 47-year Park District employee who served as the Superintendent of Parks and lived in the Point Defiance Lodge. Access to it was by boat or rough trail until a connecting road from Five Mile Drive was built in the 1930s. Today the beach remains a popular picnic destination.

Boathouse Marina - The Point Defiance Boathouse Marina has been rebuilt many times over the years. The current boathouse marina was built in 1988 and has become a second home for those who fish the Point Defiance waterfront.

Never Never Land Family Picnic Area & Playground - Generations of Tacomans grew up with summer outings to Never Never Land, which opened in 1964 as an enchanted world where fairy tales came to life. Today visitors use the area for picnicking, family walks and play, welcomed by Humpty Dumpty sitting on a stack of books.

Anthony's Restaurant - Built in 1990 in an octagonal shape to suggest the original 1903 waterfront pavilion, Anthony's Restarurant offers northwest seafood and exceptional sound and mountain views.

Go-karts & Batting Cages - What began in 1933 as the Funland Amusement Park, the privately operated Go-Kart track and Batting Cages are the only vestiges left of what was once a large amusement area featuring more than ten rides and attractions.

Camp 6 Logging Museum - Camp 6 opened in 1964 to portray a working logging camp circa 1900. This window into Washington's heritage is privately operated by the Western Forest Industries Museum.


For a more complete, footnoted history visit Tacoma Metro Parks at www.metroparkstacoma.org.

 
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