Sunday, January 23, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Planet Northwest

''Visiting Tukwila'' takes on a whole new meaning

RENTON IS "AHEAD OF THE CURVE." Tacoma is the "City of Destiny." And Seattle is, well, a big, gridlocked, riot-torn city.

Cities love slogans and now it's time for Tukwila, the gateway to Kent.

To some, Tukwila might be best known as a symbol for romance, thanks to Seattle Times' columnist Erik Lacitis coining the phrase "visiting Tukwila" some years ago to describe the well-documented love life of Rex and Debby Allen, who became national celebrities of sorts.

Well, Tukwila - city of 15,000 people, 225 stores and 80 restaurants - has turned the phrase around in its new promotional campaign, which features full-page ads in tourist-oriented publications.

"Thinking of visiting Seattle, think Tukwila," an ad in the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine says matter-of-factly.

In the background are the words "Family" "Value" "Fun" and "Tukwila" in light blue with photos of a shopper, bicyclists, Southcenter and the Family Fun Center.

Family and fun, a recurring theme in Tukwila. Along with shopping and eating and proximity to Seattle. Not romance. And of course, at the bottom of the page is a tiny photo of the Space Needle: "15 minutes to Seattle."

Katherine Kertzman, director of marketing and tourism for Tukwila, says it's way too early to gauge the success of the $300,000 campaign, funded by hotel and motel taxes.

She also said it didn't have anything to do with the previous meaning of the "visiting" phrase.

In the new Tukwila, a "visit" is just a visit. Don't get too carried away.

Go for it in Ballard, though

PICKING UP on the romance theme that Tukwila is letting slip away is Ballard, or least a restaurant there. A recent ad campaign, lustily displayed on the side of buses, says "Fall in love with Ballard all over again."

Thanks for the offer, but we'll just visit.

We're everywhere

TUKWILA IS SMART to cling to Seattle's coattails. How pervasive is the Seattle thing? From a former Seattleite now living in Washington, D.C.: "This morning, wearing my REI fleece, I drove my car (still with Washington plates) to Starbucks. At work I use Microsoft Word and today I received a package from

"All of which goes to show that you can leave Seattle, but Seattle won't leave you."

Counting counties

KING COUNTY, as we all should know by now, is named after slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whom we honored this past week. But until 1986, it was called "King County" for Rufus DeVane King.

That's a bit of an upgrade, we would say. Naming the No. 1 county in the state after an obscure slave-owning vice president who died after taking office in 1852? That must have been quite a contest. Guess it went to Rufus because he had the luck to die the same year the county was created.

Not one of the state's 39 other counties got tagged with something like that. Six were named after prominent presidents (John Adams, Garfield, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln and Pierce). Most of the others were named after early territorial and state leaders, explorers and Indian names.

We would even have been better off with Asotin (an Indian word for "eel creek") or Pend Oreille (the French word for ear bob).

Bill Kossen is a writer for The Seattle Times. You may e-mail this page at, or write P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Planet Northwest response line: 206-464-3337.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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