UW-T Grassy Areas: Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was a phrase that justified the territorial expansion of the United States as if it were a divine sanction. A series of markers reminiscent of the Northern Pacific Railroad signs act as a historical timeline of Tacoma, starting in 1870, three years before Tacoma was designated as the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. A stepping stone begins the journey and the subsequent signs track the growing population of the city over 140 years at intervals that represent the largest jumps in population. Artists: Maria Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Elise Richman

Manifest Destiny

Photo by Dane Meyer

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line

Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line is a temporary public art exhibit that celebrates the important transformation of the Prairie Line Trail from rail to linear park.

In 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad fulfilled Abraham Lincoln’s dream that the transcontinental railroad reach saltwater. This historic achievement occurred right here in Tacoma where water would have first been spotted by railroad workers at about 17th and Pacific Avenue. Trains were still running on the tracks through the University of Washington campus and downtown Tacoma up until 2003.

Now the historic line is undergoing a new transformation. The proposed $5.83 million walking, biking and interpretive trail follows the historic rail corridor linking the University of Washington-Tacoma campus, the Brewery District, the Museum District, Thea Foss Waterway and eventually will connect with the Water Ditch Trail and South Tacoma.

The City of Tacoma received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a public art plan for the Prairie Line Trail and selected Todd Bressi and the team Thoughtbarn (Lucy Begg & Robert Gay) to create the plan and a demonstration project that will begin to bring attention to the project and the potential for its use. In partnership with the University of Washington-Tacoma, this exhibit is the first intervention to be explored along the Prairie Line Trail.

Thoughtbarn created one artwork and seven more sites were identified for Tacoma artists. Seven teams of artists who are participating in Tacoma’s public art training program have created site responsive works as well.