29 Unusual Photos of Tacoma in the 1960s and 1970s

A look at everyday things in Tacoma in the 1960s and 1970s

Richards Studio operated out of Tacoma, Washington. Established in 1921, the business closed in 1980. A collection of the Studio’s photographs are now housed at Tacoma Public Library. And we like them because they are records of the kind of things we once saw and never really noticed. Each picture invites the question, “Why are you showing me this?” As Ansel Adams put it: “There are two people in every photograph: the photographer and the viewer.” So, here’s the other question: what are we looking at?

A few of the photos are posed for, like the pet cat and Mr Kyllonen holding a miniature wooden canoe decorated in Native American symbols. Others, like the stand at the Tacoma Home Show and the group of men watching a car being loaded, are more like snapshots than images taken under commission.

In On Writing, Eudora Welty says that “a good snapshot stopped a moment from running away”. But where are these images going?


Tacoma 1970s

A very tanned model, in ruffled bikini, stands inside one of several “Golden Glo Sunrooms” at the Olympic Health Spa, 5206 South Tacoma Way, on August 3, 1967. She is wearing the prescribed goggles for protection of her eyes and has her hair wrapped in a yellow towel. This is one of a long series of photographs taken in one day by the Richards Studio photographer who spent nearly 12 hours at the facility – 1967

1969 Richards stock footage. A beaming Harold Moss, at the podium, seems to have the head table in stitches at a testimonial dinner honoring City Manager David Rowlands on November 17, 1969.

Evening view in May of 1968 of Steven Motor Company, Chrysler and Plymouth dealers.

Tacoma 1970s

An unidentified group of bagpipers marched along the steep streets of downtown Tacoma in April of 1975.

In September of 1973, this unidentified Columbian Opticians shop had a colorful display of fashionable glasses mounted on multi-colored mannikin heads.

Tacoma 1970s

Construction is well under way on Tacoma’s “first high-rise condominium tower,” the Plaza Four Condominiums, in 1971.

Tacoma 1970s

A familiar landmark in Tacoma was the imposing smokestack at the ASARCO smelter. It rose over 500 feet at the smelter located near Point Defiance. The smokestack, dubbed the tallest in the world at the time of its 1917 construction, would be demolished on January 17, 1993.

Tacoma 1970s

Tacoma Art Museum’s grand opening at its new location, 1123 Pacific Ave., the former home of the (National) Bank of Washington. Governor Dan Evans officiated in dedication ceremonies on May 25, 1971, which began the week-long celebration of the arts.

This gentleman in a plaid cape appears to have selected the shovel he wants from a circle of red-banded ones already dug into the ground. Two other men behind him have yet to decide on theirs. Bystanders and passersby at the April 18, 1975, groundbreaking ceremonies for the downtown Bicentennial Pavilion were invited to participate in the symbolic digging.

1974 Tacoma Home Show.

Tacoma 1970s

Polar bears at the Point Defiance Zoo attract many curious visitors who stand safely behind tall steel bars.

Four female employees of Commonwealth Title Insurance Co. are pictured on September 21, 1972

Choir in green evening gowns and elbow length white gloves perform at the “Music Americana” sponsored by the Greater Tacoma Chapter of Sweet Adelines, Inc., in early November of 1971.

Tacoma 1970s

Bank of Washington Plaza dedication. Cameras flashed and the crowd peered in as Governor Dan Evans (center in dark suit) and Tacoma Mayor Gordon Johnston (in brown suit) jointly officiated in the formal dedication of the Bank of Washington Plaza on January 9, 1971

Tacoma 1970s Tacoma 1970s

Ms.Downtown Tacoma, Donna McNamara, waves to the unseen crowd while aboard a Buick Free Spirit marked in patriotic colors. April 1975

A young couple enjoy the elaborate food preparation at their table while dining at the elegant Three Keys restaurant, Winthrop Hotel, on October 30, 1970.

A little girl gets a friendly greeting from Point Defiance Zoo’s elephant in 1971

Tacoma 1970s

1971 Richards color stock footage. Some sunbathers apparently found it more comfortable lying on picnic tables and pavement at Point Defiance’s Owen Beach than the somewhat rocky shoreline.

Mayor Gordon Johnston accepts a cup of tea at the December 13, 1972, grand opening of the Tacoma Narrows branch of Washington Mutual Savings Bank.

Tacoma 1970s

Harvey Kyllonen, 1529 South Anderson St., is pictured on October 30, 1968, holding a miniature wooden canoe decorated in Native American symbols.

Tacoma 1970s

This large cat had its portrait taken at the home of Mrs. A.E. Blair on May 11, 1978.

ounty officials and judges take the oath of office on January 11, 1971,

Tacoma 1970s

leaming under bright light is a new 1969-model Plymouth Fury. It is parked in the landscaped area of the Holiday Inn, 3518 Pacific Hwy. E., Fife, on November 11, 1968.

Tacoma 1970s

Commonwealth Title Insurance Co. executive. This is David Fogg, president of the firm, as he was photographed on September 21, 1972, speaking on the telephone.

1971 Richards color stock footage. It looks like it is summer and children are flocking to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for a joyful day. Several youngsters wait by the entrance to the Aquarium while others look at outdoor exhibits.
Point Defiance Zoo (Tacoma); Aquariums–Tacoma;




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