It is the sixth largest city in the state and third largest in the county. Kent is in the heart of the Seattle–Tacoma metroplex, located 19 miles south of Seattle and 19 miles northeast of Tacoma. Incorporated in 1890, it is the second oldest incorporated city in King County, after Seattle. Kent's population was 92,411 according to the 2010 census. The total grew to an estimated 126,952 as of July 1, 2015, owing primarily to annexation.
Once a thriving agricultural area, Kent is now home to hundreds of companies. Among the many corporations headquartered in Kent are REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), Oberto Sausage Company, Blue Origin, and the two largest waterjet companies in the United States: Flow International Corporation and Omax Corporation.
The Kent area was first permanently settled by westerners in the early 1860s along the banks of (what was then) the White River, and originally called Titusville.
During the 1880s the town discovered hops production as the major source of income. Due to an aphid invasion which affected hops crops in Europe, hops from the Puget Sound area were commanding 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. Hops production in the White River Valley came to an end soon after its own invasion of aphids in 1891.
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.
In 2009, Kent got its first sports team when WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds moved into the ShoWare Center.
Kent is divided into three major regions: East Hill, the Valley, and West Hill. Downtown Kent is located on the east side of the valley; the rest of the valley is almost entirely covered by warehouses. There is a good view of Mt. Rainier to the southeast.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.19 square miles, of which, 28.63 square miles is land and 0.56 square miles 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.
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 (i.e., by the entire voting population, not by districts) to four-year terms.
Annexation & Growth Edit
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 and 24,000 residents.