|Incorporated||May 28, 1890|
|• Mayor||Dana Ralph|
|• Total||34.42 sq mi (89.14 km2)|
|• Land||33.75 sq mi (87.41 km2)|
|• Water||0.67 sq mi (1.73 km2)|
|Elevation||43–500 ft (13−152 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||US: 210th|
|• Density||4,000/sq mi (1,500/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (PST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (PDT)|
98030, 98031, 98032, 98035, 98042, 98064, 98089
|GNIS feature ID||1530952|
Kent is a city in King County, Washington, United States. It is part of the Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue metropolitan area and had a population of 136,588 as of the 2020 census, making it the fourth-largest municipality in greater Seattle and the sixth-largest in Washington state. The city is connected to Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma via State Route 167 and Interstate 5, Sounder commuter rail, and commuter buses.
Incorporated in 1890, Kent is the second-oldest incorporated city in King County, after Seattle. It is generally divided into three areas: West Hill (mixed residential and commercial along Interstate 5), Valley (primarily industrial and commercial with some medium-density residential; significant parkland along Green River), and East Hill (primarily residential with retail).
The Kent area was first permanently settled by European Americans in the 1850s along the banks of what was then the White River. The first settler was Samuel Russell, who sailed the White and Duwamish rivers until he claimed a plot of land southeast of modern-day downtown Kent in the spring of 1853. Russell was followed by several other settlers who quickly staked claims around the area. The settlements were originally known as "White River" and later the town was called "Titusville" after an early settler by the name of James Henry Titus. (There is still a "Titusville Station" sign on Gowe Street near First Avenue). In 1861 a post office was established under the name White River and was located at the farm of David and Irena Neely who settled in modern-day Kent in 1854. In 1855 their farm was attacked by Native Americans when David Neely served as a lieutenant in the Territorial Army. Another settler was Henry L. Yesler, who was the first sawmill operator in Seattle. By 1870 the population was 277 and all of the quality bottom-land had been claimed.
Throughout the 1860s and 70's, grain and forage crops such as wheat, barley, oats, hay, and timothy accounted for much of the annual return of farmers in the valley. During the late 1870s the town discovered hops production as a major source of income. Due to an aphid invasion which affected hops crops in Europe, hops from the Puget Sound area began to command high prices. Hops were shipped from Titusville either by the river or via rail. In 1889 the town was renamed for the County of Kent, the major hops-producing region in England. Ezra Meeker was asked by the Northern Pacific Railroad to name its station. Meeker suggested that it be known as Kent as it was "Hop Capitol of the West". Hops production in the White River valley came to an end soon after its own invasion of aphids in 1891.
Kent was officially incorporated on May 28, 1890, with a population of 793, the second city incorporated in King County. Seattle was the first.
After the turn of the 20th century the area turned to dairy farming and was home to a Carnation condensed milk plant. Flooding from both the Green and the White Rivers was a constant problem. In 1906, flooding changed the course of the White River, which reduced the flood hazard by half. The Green River continued to present problems until the creation of the Howard A. Hanson Dam at Eagle Gorge in 1962.
During and after the Great Depression, Kent was known as the "Lettuce Capital of the World". After WWII, Kent began to grow more rapidly. From 1953 to 1960 the city's size grew twelve-fold. In 1965 Boeing began building in Kent, followed a few years later by other aerospace and high-tech companies.
In 1992, the Greater Kent Historical Society was formed to promote the discovery, preservation and dissemination of knowledge about the history of the greater Kent area. In 1996, the City of Kent purchased the historic Bereiter house, the home of one of Kent's early mayors, for use as the Kent Historical Museum. The museum is operated by the Greater Kent Historical Society.
Kent is located in southern King County and is part of Seattle's metropolitan area. The city is divided into three geographic sections: West Hill, the Kent Valley, and East Hill. Downtown Kent is located on the east side of the valley, about 16 miles from downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue. Adjoining cities are Renton to the north, Covington to the east, Auburn to the south, Federal Way to the southwest, Des Moines to the west, SeaTac to the northwest, and Tukwila to the north.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.19 square miles (75.60 km2), of which, 28.63 square miles (74.15 km2) is land and 0.56 square miles (1.45 km2) is water. Major waterways include the Green River, which flows north through Kent on its way to Puget Sound. The largest lake is Lake Meridian on the city's East Hill. Mount Rainier is a prominent geographical landmark to the southeast.
There are several major freeways and highways in or near Kent, including Interstate 5, State Route 167, and State Route 516. Kent is also served by King County Metro transit, with the Kent Station providing service to many destinations, including downtown Seattle by multiple commuter buses, the Sounder commuter rail system, and local buses. Heavy rail service includes two major north–south lines through the Kent Valley, with freight traffic operations by the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads. The Link light rail system is scheduled to be extended to Federal Way in 2024, with intermediate stops at Kent Des Moines station near Highline College and Star Lake station at South 272nd Street.
Kent's park system includes 73 parks, miniparks, playfields, skateparks, greenbelts, and other related facilities. These parks range in size from as little as 4,300 square feet (400 m2) to over 310 acres (1.3 km2).
Kent has a warm/cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb).
|Climate data for Kent, Washington (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1912–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||70
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||57.9
|Average high °F (°C)||48.4
|Daily mean °F (°C)||42.2
|Average low °F (°C)||36.1
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||23.6
|Record low °F (°C)||−10
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||5.77
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||19.2||14.7||16.8||14.9||11.6||8.8||3.9||4.4||5.7||12.6||18.3||18.9||149.8|
Kent has designated the following landmarks:
|Lunar Roving Vehicles||1970||2019|
|Emil W. Bereiter House||1907||2008|
|Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks||1982||2008|
|Saar Pioneer Cemetery||1873||2010|
|2020||32.32% 18,219||64.50% 36,359||3.18% 1,795|
The city is governed by a mayor–council government, with a directly elected mayor and a seven-member city council. Each is elected at-large (that is, by the entire voting population, rather than by districts) to four-year terms. The current mayor is Dana Ralph. The city maintains its own municipal police department, unlike some neighboring municipalities who contract police service out to King County.
Public primary and secondary education in the vast majority of Kent and a number of neighboring cities and unincorporated areas is governed by the Kent School District. The district includes four high schools, seven middle schools, twenty-eight elementary schools and two academies. The Kent School District also has an individualized graduation and degree program named iGrad that is aimed at dropouts aged 16–21 who are willing to get back to school.
Federal Way Public Schools, which includes a portion of Kent, also has several schools within the city limits. Residents of far east Kent are zoned in the Tahoma School district. A branch of Green River Community College opened in Kent Station in 2007.
Other portions are in the Highline School District and the Renton School District.
The city is served by the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority with 7 of the departments 13 stations located within municipal boundaries.
In keeping with the King County Annexation Initiative, which seeks to annex large urban unincorporated areas into city limits or incorporate new cities out of those areas, the Panther Lake area (known officially as the Kent Northeast Potential Annexation Area) was proposed for annexation to the city of Kent. The annexation was voted on by residents of the potential annexation area on November 3, 2009; the area was officially annexed July 1, 2010. The city grew in area by approximately 5 square miles (13 km2) and 24,000 residents.
The economy of Kent consists of commuters traveling to the main urban centers of the Seattle metropolitan area (particularly downtown Seattle), extensive manufacturing and warehousing within the city, and retail/personal services catering to residents. Kent's manufacturing and distribution area ranks are the 4th largest in the United States.
Corporate headquarters in Kent include Oberto Sausage Company, Seattle Bicycle Supply, Omax Corporation and aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin. Amazon, Boeing, Whirlpool and General Electric operate sizable facilities in the city. Due to its central location within the metropolitan area, Kent is home to a large and growing warehouse district. To honor the 100th anniversary of Oberto Sausage Company's presence in the city, the city designated a section of South 238th Street as Oberto Drive in May 2018.
Boeing Kent Space Center was opened with a public dedication ceremony on October 24, 1964. Keynote speakers at the event were William "Bill" Allen, Chairman and CEO of The Boeing Company; future Washington Governor Dan Evans; and Alex Thorton, Mayor of the City of Kent. The event featured public tours of the labs and facilities that were used to build the Lunar Roving Vehicles used in the Apollo program.
Kent is home to a large steel industry dating back to the early 20th century. Steel and metal manufacturers include:
According to the city's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|2||Kent School District||2,930|
|4||Exotic Metals Forming Co.||1,186|
|7||Carlisle Interconnect Industries||845|
|8||City of Kent||715|
|10||King County (Maleng Regional Justice Center)||630|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 92,411 people, 34,044 households, and 21,816 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,227.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,246.3/km2). There were 36,424 housing units at an average density of 1,272.2 per square mile (491.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 55.5% White (49.7% Non-Hispanic White), 11.3% African American, 1.0% Native American, 15.2% Asian, 1.9% Pacific Islander, 8.5% from other races, and 6.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.6% of the population.
There were 34,044 households, of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.31.
The median age in the city was 33 years. 26.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 30.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.3% were from 45 to 64; and 8.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.9% male and 50.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 79,524 people, 31,113 households, and 19,601 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,836.7 people per square mile (1,095.4/km2). There were 32,488 housing units at an average density of 1,158.9 per square mile (447.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 70.81% White, 8.23% African American, 0.98% Native American, 9.42% Asian, 0.76% Pacific Islander, 4.7% from other races, and 5.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.13% of the population.
There were 32,998 households, out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.0% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city the population was spread out, with 27.7% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 35.0% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,053, and the median income for a family was $61,016. Males had a median income of $43,136 versus $36,995 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,390. About 8.7% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under the age of 18 and 9.3% of those 65 and older.
In 2003, Kent was named Sports Illustrated's Sportstown of the year for Washington. In January 2006, an entertainment center, known as Kent Station, opened in downtown Kent adjacent to the transit station of the same name.
The 2012 Skate America figure skating competition was held in Kent from October 19 to 21, 2012, at ShoWare Center.
In July 2015, Kent hosted the inaugural Junior Roller Derby World Cup.
Riverbend Golf Complex, featuring an 18-hole course which is one of the busiest in Washington state, is located in Kent. An adjacent par 3 course was actively used by locals for years before being shut down in 2017 to make room for a mixed used development.
The accesso ShoWare Center hosts two minor-league sports teams: the Seattle Thunderbirds play ice hockey in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League; and the Tacoma Stars plays indoor soccer in the Major Arena Soccer League.
Kent has the following sister cities: