Located on the water’s edge in Old Town, this park was renamed for a former Tacoma mayor and leader in developing the Ruston Way waterfront.
The park is located in Tacoma’s Old Town along Ruston Way on the water’s edge and Starr Street. Jack Hyde Park includes a beautiful view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, beach access, picnicking, an interpretive court, and a heliocronometer (sundial). All of this, including the trail, has been the result of a partnership between the federal government, State of Washington, City of Tacoma, and Metro Parks Tacoma.
After some debate in 1978, the park was given the official name of Commencement Park. Some members of the City Council opposed the proposed name. Once council member argued that area residents should be consulted and moved that the naming be postponed for 30 days. His motion was defeated with a 4-4 vote. Nearby residents felt Old Town should be a part of the name. The dispute was resolved when a representative of the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission pointed out that the original name of Tacoma was Commencement City.
Full development of Commencement Park was made possible in 1980 with a matching grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program set up by Congress in 1964 to use federal revenue from offshore oil and gas leases for acquisition and development of federal, state, local parks, and conservation lands. In 2002, the park was honored as one of ten 21st Century American Heritage Parks by Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation, a national coalition of park and recreation user groups.
On June 11, 2002, the City Council voted to re-name the park Jack Hyde Park on Commencement Bay. A rededication of the park was held on July 3, 2002 where the community celebrated the renaming of the park.
Born in Everett in 1935 and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jack Hyde fostered a deep appreciation for the quality of life that Tacoma residents still cherish today. He devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to making Tacoma a better place to live after moving to Tacoma in 1965 and until his death in 1994.
Jack attended the University of Washington (UW), earning a B.S. in Geology in 1961 and a Master’s in 1963. Appointed to the original Tacoma Community College (TCC) faculty in 1965, he developed the Earth Science Department there. From 1968 to 1969 he served as the college’s President of the Faculty. Jack went on to earn his Ph.D. in Volcanology from the UW in 1973. He worked for many years on geology and volcanic hazard issues with the U.S. Geological Survey. He continued his professor’s duties at TCC until becoming Mayor.
Jack served two terms as a Tacoma City Council member from 1982 to 1989 and served as Deputy Mayor in 1987. During his tenure on the Council he worked hard to bring parks, restaurants, and amenities to Tacoma’s prominent Ruston Way and was dedicated to making the city a safer place through programs, such as Safe Streets and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
In keeping with Jack’s effort to not only protect our quality of life, but to improve it, he also served on the Pierce Transit board, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health, Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, Tacoma Planning Commission, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Civic Arts Commission.
Jack took office as Tacoma’s new Mayor on Jan. 1, 1994 and was in office 17 days before dying of a heart attack. He was 59. Jack served the city of Tacoma for 20 years. He passionately worked to preserve Tacoma’s waterfront and will be remembered as a visionary leader, an honest and kind man, the ultimate father, and the neighbor of your dreams.