I posted below a couple of resources that I had come across in the Library of Congress' American Memory website. It is worth browsing, as there's a wealth of material, all of which, as far as I can tell, is fair use. Here's a snippet from a large broadsheet from 1888:
It also praises the city's new college, though they are not referring to Puget Sound; Whitworth got started here first, before decamping to Spokane in 1889. This can't be right--Whitworth didn't leave Tacoma until 1914. Perhaps they are talking about Washington College, a short-lived college here in town before the turn of the century.
There are wonderful images as well, for example a series of panoramic photographs taken at the turn of the century. What I show above is just a snippet of a much larger image.
Even if you've little interest in Tacoma's history, there's much to see on towns and cities across the US. Give it a browse.