Mount Rainier is a city of contrasts. Known as a busy urban gateway to the nation’s capital, it is also known for its intimate, tree-shaded neighborhoods. Mount Rainier’s greatest asset—the source of its vibrant community life—is its ability to nurture and sustain a variety of interests.
Old and new, progressive and conservative, Bible-belt fundamentalists, rock-ribbed traditionalists, activists, recluses, empty nesters, and young families: all are at home in Mount Rainier. Patterns of civic behavior established early in the city’s 100-year history laid a foundation of tolerance that persists to this day.
Successive generations of government workers, trades people, artisans, and service professionals have lived in the one- and two-story bungalows built by the first Mount Rainier families. They inherited, too, a small-town infrastructure, complete with retail stores, churches, schools, and narrow streets. Decades-old elm trees dominate the neighborhoods, where cozy front porches vie with well-traveled sidewalks as venues for good conversation.
With most of its buildings built prior to 1939 and in good enough shape to be considered, in preservationist terminology, “contributing resources,” Mount Rainier was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Visitors are not surprised. The city looks and feels like the old trolley town that it is. But when newcomers are drawn into the life of the city, they quickly realize that it is well endowed to thrive in the 21st century. Mount Rainier’s enduring embrace of its institutions and its people is only enhanced by the passage of time.