Metro Parks Tacoma has its roots in the City of Tacoma Charter of 1880. The city set up a committee of city council members in 1883 to oversee the city's parks. That committee became the Board of Park Commissioners in 1890, with members appointed by the mayor.
Tacoma was ready for action when the Washington State Legislature passed a law in 1907 allowing cities to form separate park districts. Less than a month after the governor signed the bill, residents voted to establish the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma as a separate municipal corporation with the ability to collect property taxes for support. Metro Parks Tacoma was incorporated April 6, 1907, with a five-member elected Board of Park Commissioners.