University Place is a suburban community located in Washington’s second most populous county, Pierce County, with a population of 31,144 as of the 2010 Census. Its name dates back to the late 1800s when Tacoma liberal arts college University of Puget Sound purchased along Grandview Drive with the objective of building a new campus there. The university instead abandoned those plans, and the area remained unincorporated until 1995.
U.P. is the hometown of “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson and has also been home to author and media consultant John Nance and NFL star turned fallen war hero, Pat Tillman. However, the area first made an indelible mark on popular culture during the silent film era when it was home to H.C. Weaver Studio, once America’s largest freestanding film production space outside of Los Angeles. There has been renewed interest in that company’s legacy since a print of the previously lost 1927 silent film, “Eyes of the Totem,” resurfaced in 2014.
Shopping and Dining
U.P. Is home to the University Village and Green Firs Village Shopping centers as well as branches of popular chain stores Fred Meyer and Safeway. Locals also pick up seeds, spades and other gardening needs at Willow Tree Gardens and Interiors; they purchase unique jewelry and wedding invitations at Paper Luxe Stationary & Gifts; and “foodies” find their fill of free-range chicken and organic wines at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
The community also has a decent array of dining options without having to venture to nearby Tacoma, Puyallup and Lakewood. There’s Italian cuisine at Grassi’s Ristorante, Mexican cuisine at El Toro and more upscale dining at Chambers Bay Grill, located at Chamber’s Bay golf course (more on that in a second.) Young professionals enjoy throwing back a few craft beers after work at the Beach Tavern and Steamer’s Pub – located on the water at nearby Titlow Beach – and epic karaoke sessions at the popular UP Station Pub.
Parks and Recreation
Among the city’s newest and most popular attractions is Chamber’s Bay, a beautiful, 250-acre, Scottish links-style golf course that opened in 2007. It hosted U.S. Amateur golf tournament in 2010, followed by the prestigious U.S. Open in 2015. Even non-golfers enjoy walking and biking around miles of trails that wind through the course and its breathtaking, waterfront views.
Among the city’s most popular celebrations are Duck Daze, a late spring gathering of food, fun and custom cars along Bridgeport Way. Curran Apple Orchards hosts its yearly Cider Squeeze during which locals enjoy live music, pick apples and walk them through the cider-making process; and its Concerts in the Park series features some of the region’s most promising local bands. In October, locals show their appreciation of local parks, helping to clean up and maintain them during Make a Difference Day.
While U.P. offers the tranquility of suburban living, it is conveniently located near more popular county seat, Tacoma, where residents can take advantage of greater shopping options and thriving arts and restaurant scenes. The city is also located conveniently near Seattle and SeaTac International airports to the north (about 40 and 35 miles, respectively) and half an hour from Olympia to the south. The city is served by Pierce Transit, and Sound Transit Amtrak Service can be accessed in Tacoma.
The University Place School District manages eight public school: Curtis Senior High, Curtis Junior High, Drum Intermediate, Narrows View Intermediate, Chambers Primary, Evergreen Primary, Sunset Primary and University Place Primary.