Link Light Rail: A Tacoma Timeline

21 Jul

You’ve probably heard about the new Link light rail station that’s going in this month by Commerce Street and S. 11th, right? It’ll be a great convenience for anyone going to the Tacoma School of the Arts or the Pacific Plaza.

But more than just another stop on your morning commute, the new station will also feature some great artwork by local artist Chandler O’Leary. Earlier this spring, we put out a call to artists to create a design that would be suitable for etching into the glass panels of the shelters at the new station.

O’Leary’s design, shown below, pulls inspiration from Tacoma’s rail story – past, present, and future. It consists of two distinct rail lines; one represents traditional railroad tracks, while the other represents our modern light rail tracks. The traditional railroad track at the top left branches out into many tracks, symbolizing Tacoma’s transition to an urban hub. The light rail line, on the other hand, begins as several tracks that converge into one – depicting the end of Tacoma’s streetcar system, and our path into the future with our Link light rail.

A portion of the full design that will be installed at the new light rail station. Image: Chandler O'Leary

In the background, O’Leary chose to illustrate some of Tacoma’s most iconic and historic buildings. Every structure shown has some connection to our rail system – having existed along a previous streetcar line, the current light rail line, or overlooking our railroad line.

“With my design,” O’Leary states, “I aim to transform the simple act of waiting for the train into an intimate, reflective and inspiring experience – a quiet, personal moment in the heart of a bustling, thriving city.”

Glass panels are etched with Chandler's design.

Here is what the design looks like etched into glass waiting for pickup at Bancheros Glass and Etching Company.  Each panel is numbered to insure proper installation.  Look for the complete installation this August when the shelters go up at the new light rail stations at Commerce and 11th!

6 Responses to “Link Light Rail: A Tacoma Timeline”

  1. kjmiller July 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    kudos to the artist and to all who fight for art in public places. kjmiller

  2. Chris July 22, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    This is an amazing piece from the looks of it. Awesome job!

    • Chris July 22, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Oh, but I do have one question. Are there dates on the timeline? Tacoma’s streetcar system existed from 1888 to 1938, based off of the charters granted by the City Council to run in city streets. I’m a Tacoma streetcar buff, so I know these things.

      • Tacoma Arts July 25, 2011 at 9:42 am #

        I don’t believe so! I used the term “timeline” pretty loosely, and the glass panels don’t actually include a timeline of events. Sorry about the confusion! Glad you like the piece, though – we’re pretty excited to see it installed.


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