Not every city has a reversible name

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Many cities use their name as a central part of their marketing. Businesses and parks and a variety of agencies incorporate their names in their signage and promotion.

From my observation, Tacoma has two very different strategies, or maybe expressions, that I have not seen, at least to such a high degree, in other cities.

The first is the use of our fair city’s name as a street name: from South Tacoma Way in the city’s South End to Tacoma Avenue which stretches nearly across the entire city, to Tacoma Mall Boulevard, navigating these “Tacoma” named streets can be frustrating and disorienting to visitors or even, on occasion, locals.

GPS has been a life-saver, but before technology offered a way out, how many of us were baffled by an address that had a number and Tacoma as a street name.

If it were any other street name, like Market or Yakima perhaps, there might be a question of whether it was a north or south address, but the street name, at least, would be clear.

Not always true if the street name is Tacoma.

For whatever reason, early city planners just could not get enough of the name Tacoma for ways, streets and avenues.

Every city has streets, but not every city has, or even imagines having, a name that lives on, as if it had a life of its own, expressed in various incarnations from cafes to businesses and t-shirts and stickers.

The award for the most original use/mis-use of a civic name has to be the incorporation of the reverse of the name “Tacoma” in signs and businesses.

Yes, I mean “Amocat”.

Other cities don’t have the potential for a city name/nick-name that flows as easily (or maybe even easier) than the original name.

This is one area where Seattle doesn’t have a prayer. The name “Elttaes” is not going to roll off anyone’s tongue.

Nor will “Amikay” (Yakima) or “Enakops” (Spokane). I actually like “Enakops”, but it sounds more like a civilization from the Star Wars franchise than any Pacific Northwest city or product.

Many of us have embraced “Amocat” as a place name or inside joke of sorts around the city – even by the city.

The City of Tacoma has the AMOCAT Arts Awards.

We have had various “Amocat” named businesses over the years from cafes to breweries. You can even find something called “Amocat Bullies” – no, it’s not a rent-a-thug bodyguard agency, it’s a business specializing in the breeding of French Bulldogs.

Amocat was even used as a baseball team name a bit over a hundred years ago. You can see, or even order, a replica jersey here:

A variety of products had the “Amocat” label thanks to West Coast Grocery. You can find these products online or at antique shops.

Moving into the 21st Century, you can even find an Amocat soundcloud –

Amocat is such a great name/nick name for our city that I think we should use it as a name for at least one street or park. Or maybe an annual festival celebrating all-things Tacoma.

Amocat Avenue sounds good to me.

Every town has a Broadway or a Main street, or even alphabet or president streets, but how many could have an Amocat street?

It would be, like Tacoma, historic, unique and a little bit whimsical.

It would be one of a kind, locally-rooted, easy to find and certainly memorable.

If you are new to the Amocat phenomenon, here’s a good place to start on this, as always, unique approach to history and marketing Tacoma-style:

Amocat is a name associated with our city’s identity long before many of us got here.

I have a feeling it will be a distinct and recurring aspect of our city long after we are gone.