Back to the Foss
The economic energy growing along the Thea Foss Waterway today is reminiscent of the area’s role in Tacoma more than 120 years ago.
Marine trade, railroads and sawmills made Foss Waterway an industrial center. Thea Foss started Foss Maritime Company in 1889, offering tug boat services, rowboats and naphtha launches.
Over time the industrial uses polluted the waterway and the economy shifted. Businesses closed or moved away. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the waterway and Commencement Bay a Superfund cleanup site in 1983.
City officials and business leaders took action, eventually creating the Foss Waterway Development Authority to steer the waterfront back to success.
Since then, FWDA's efforts have set precedents in planning, engineering and other development activities in cooperation with regulatory agencies and public input has been implemented.
Today the mixed-use community includes housing, retail and restaurants as well as recreation and education opportunities.
For a chroniological history of the Thea Foss Waterway, please see Exhibit E of our Master Redevelopment Strategy here.
For comprehensive information about the cleanup of the Waterway see the City of Tacoma's website here.