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Mayhem and the Mob: Grit City's Dark Past

Unmasking Grit City's Dark Past: The Top of the Ocean Arson and Organized Crime in 1970s Tacoma

In the gritty streets of 1970s Tacoma, Washington, a city known colloquially as "Grit City," a sinister plot unraveled beneath the surface, shaking the community to its core. A part of this intrigue was the infamous Top of the Ocean restaurant arson—a pivotal event that was part of the seedy underbelly of organized crime and corruption.

The Top of the Ocean, a beloved Tacoma landmark, was reduced to ashes one fateful night, one of the arsons that sparked a wide-scale FBI and BATF investigation that pierced the veil of secrecy surrounding the city's criminal underworld. This fire and multiple other fire bombings around Pierce County revealed a tangled web of racketeering and collusion, implicating members of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department and casting a shadow over law enforcement's integrity.

In our latest podcast episode, "Mayhem and the Mob: Grit City's Dark Past," we delve into the depths of this riveting saga. Join us as we navigate the twists and turns of a narrative filled with backroom deals, daring undercover operations, and the relentless pursuit of justice against formidable adversaries.

With guest host Jason (Shea's own big brother!), we shed light on a chapter of Tacoma's history often overlooked—a time when the city grappled with the forces of organized crime while striving to maintain its integrity.

Join us on this journey through the heart of Grit City's darkest hour and discover the untold story behind one of Tacoma's most notorious crimes.

While we always strive to be as accurate as possible, we probably got lots of things wrong. But that's our fault. For much more accurate reporting with less use of juvenile humor, please check out these fantastic sources!

The bulk of my information came from and Michael Sullivan's excellent articles about Top of the Ocean. I got some fun info about Vito Cuttone from Tacoma Prohibition Tales. I filled in little details with articles from

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Check out this video by Pretty Gritty Tours about it!

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