Hilltop Tacoma is a reference to the neighborhood directly up the hill from the Downtown Tacoma area and has had a reputation for being hand in hand with gang violence, drugs and shootings. This is a reputation that was built in the 1980s, 90s, and in the early 00s due to the inception of the Hilltop Crips. Due to the major gang influences that were happening in the Hilltop area, Tacoma police department has beefed up patrols, put a police sub station in, and violence has since started to decline, thus making a much nicer and revived neighborhood.
The homes in the Hilltop area are mostly old, craftman homes and 90% of the homes built are documented in the Tacoma Library system. To accompany these beautiful homes in the Hilltop area is the Fulcrum Art Gallery in the Tacoma Tofu building on Martin Luther King Jr Way, which is the heart of Hilltop. Oliver, the owner of Fulcrum, brings in some beautifully gritty art that encompasses the vibe of the area. As well as Fulcrum, there's the upscale Tempest Lounge and "1022 S J" that offer up fancy drinks and a nice ambiance right in the heart of what used to be a very bad neighborhood.
Several places that people should know in Hilltop Tacoma are the following:
Hilltop Pawn and Loan--everyone knows and respects these guys and even refer to one of the owners as "the Mayor of Hilltop". Rumor is, if you can't get the city to help ya, this guy can get the city to help ya. They have also built a rapport with folks that keep people coming back again and again.
the Not so Safeway--when I refer to where I live, I say "across the street from the "not so Safeway" and everyone knows where I'm talking about. You will never see another Safeway like this one. The workers and clerks are tattooed up, speak to you like they're your mother and know everyone in town. This is where you'll see your neighbors and friends doing their weekly grocery shopping.
ACME Grub Cage--not exactly located in what's traditionally known as Hilltop, the Acme is located on the corner of Tacoma Ave and 13th. I have put the Acme in the little Hilltop write up because, well, everyone I know on the Hill refers to this place lovingly as their neighborhood bar. The Acme, under previous owners, used to be a hub for prostitution and drugs but since under new ownership, the place has turned into the equivalent of Cheers. With a beautiful oak bar, pinball, cold and cheap beer, as well as the ability to host small functions, the Acme is a place to see and be seen.