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Clockwise: City hall, Renton Public Library, aerial view of the south end of Lake Washington with a view of Renton Boeing plant at the tip
Location of Renton in
King County and Washington
|• Mayor||Armondo Pavone|
|• Total||25.23 sq mi (65.36 km2)|
|• Land||23.47 sq mi (60.80 km2)|
|• Water||1.76 sq mi (4.56 km2)|
|Elevation||46–410 ft (14–125 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||US: 303rd|
|• Density||4,334.63/sq mi (1,673.62/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (PST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (PDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1512599|
Renton is a city in King County, Washington, and an inner-ring suburb of Seattle. Situated 11 miles (18 km) southeast of downtown Seattle, Renton straddles the southeast shore of Lake Washington, at the mouth of the Cedar River. As of 2019, the population of Renton is estimated at 101,751, up from 90,927 at the 2010 census. The city is currently the sixth-largest municipality in greater Seattle and the eighth-largest in Washington state.
After a long history as an important salmon fishing area for Native Americans, Renton was first settled by people of European descent in the 1860s. Its early economy was based on coal mining, clay production, and timber export. Today, Renton is best known as the final assembly point for the Boeing 737 family of commercial airplanes, but it is also home to a growing number of well known manufacturing, technology, and healthcare organizations, including Boeing Commercial Airplanes Division, Paccar, Kaiser Permanente, IKEA, Providence Health & Services, UW Medicine, and Wizards of the Coast.
Among the first European settlers in the present-day Renton area were Henry Tobin and his wife Diana. The town of Renton was accessed via the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad, the first railroad to be built to Seattle, and was in the vicinity of several coal mines that attracted entrepreneurs like Erasmus M. Smithers, who is credited with the founding and establishment of the town in 1875. Smithers named Renton in honor of Captain William Renton, a local lumber and shipping merchant who invested heavily in the coal trade. Smithers discovered coal there and brought in Charles D. Shattuck as the coal mine operator.
Renton was incorporated as a city on September 6, 1901, when coal mining and timber processing were the most important economic industries in the area. The town was prone to flooding from the Cedar River and Black River. In 1916 the completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal lowered the surface of Lake Washington by several feet which consequently eliminated drainage of Lake Washington through the Black River (in favor of the Ship Canal). The Cedar River was then diverted to drain into Lake Washington instead of into the Black River. As a result, the Black River largely disappeared, leaving only a few remnants. The culmination of these actions reduced the threat of annual flooding.
The population sharply increased during World War II when Boeing built their Renton Factory to produce the B-29 Superfortress. Renton grew from a population of 4,488 in 1940 to 16,039 in 1950.
Owing to its location at the confluence of three major freeways (I-5, I-405, and SR 167), Renton's economic development team has lured a number of specialty retailers that draw consumers from around the region, including Fry's Electronics and IKEA. Some retail establishments were unwanted though, and the city successfully defended zoning restrictions on pornographic theaters before the U.S. Supreme Court in Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc.
The Renton Public Library was built directly over the Cedar River and opened in 1966. It stretches 80 feet (24 m) across the river, next to Liberty Park, and was the main branch of the city's independent library system until its 2010 annexation into the King County Library system.
21st century redevelopment
The city government has encouraged redevelopment of industrial areas around Downtown Renton and near Southcenter since the 1980s. The first IKEA in the Pacific Northwest opened in Renton in 1994. The former Longacres horse-racing track was redeveloped in the 1990s to support offices for Boeing and the Federal Reserve Bank, which moved from its Seattle building. Port Quendall, a land parcel in north Renton, is home to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC), housing the Seattle Seahawks Headquarters and training facility that opened in August 2008; before then, the Seahawks trained in Kirkland.
In the mid-1990s, Renton undertook a major redevelopment effort to revitalize its downtown core, which had declined in commercial prominence since the opening of the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila in 1968. The many car dealerships that had previously occupied the center of downtown Renton were encouraged through economic incentives to relocate to a newly created auto sales zone close to the I-405/SR-167 interchange. In place of the old dealerships downtown, a new transit center and parking garage were built in partnership with King County Metro. The transit center is surrounded by several multi-family residential buildings and a small town square named Piazza Park, which hosts a weekly farmers' market.
Centered on former Boeing Co. property near the south shore of Lake Washington is a 68 acres (280,000 m2) residential and commercial development named The Landing. To the north of the Landing, a hotel and office development on the lakefront called Southport has been developed at the site of the former Shuffleton power plant, which was demolished in 2001. A 347-room hotel operated under the Hyatt Regency brand opened in June 2017.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.54 square miles (60.97 km2), of which, 23.12 square miles (59.88 km2) is land and 0.42 square miles (1.09 km2) is water, most of which is the Cedar River.
Potential Annexation Areas (PAAs) include the communities of Fairwood southeast of Renton, the East Renton Plateau on the eastern edge of Renton, and West Hill northwest of Renton. These communities are large unincorporated urban areas that are encouraged by the King County Annexation Initiative to incorporate as cities or annex into neighboring cities. As of 2012 these three PAAs are not part of the City of Renton, and not included in its demographics or statistics.
Renton one of the cities in the Puget Sound Region with an independent street grid system. Roads names beginning with sectional divisions (N 32nd ST) generally follow a latitudinal direction, while roads names ending in a sectional direction (Duvall Ave NE) generally follow a longitudinal direction. Many of the avenues in the city are named in honor of other cities in Washington.
Renton is bordered to the north by Newcastle. Along the east side of Renton is the Urban Growth Boundary established by King County, as such there is no incorporated city directly east of Renton. The geographical characteristics of Renton's eastern border are varied and include (from north to south) the south flank of Cougar Mountain descending southward merging with the community of May Valley. The terrain then elevates south of May Valley to the communities of the East Renton Plateau before descending to the north bank of the Cedar River. Renton is bordered to the south by the city of Kent. The western border consists of the city of Tukwila, and finally the unincorporated King County community West Hill and Lake Washington to the northwest.
Areas of Renton
- Downtown Renton
- In 2015, ESRI estimated that in Downtown Renton the total population was 3,019 and the average household income was $50,809.
- North Renton
- In 2015, ESRI estimated that in North Renton the total population was 8,211 and the average household income was $79,387.
- Northeast Renton
- In 2015, ESRI estimated that in Northeast Renton the total population was 44,626 and the average household income was $93,556.
- Southeast Renton
- In 2015, ESRI estimated that in Southeast Renton the total population was 39,066 and the average household income was $78,424.
- Southwest Renton
- In 2015, ESRI estimated that in Southwest Renton the total population was 3,551 and the average household income was $64,661.
Renton has a warm-summer mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) with warm and dry summers mixed with cloudy, wet and cool winters, with a precipitation regime typical of the Pacific Northwest. Being located in a partial rain shadow and shielded from the coastal summers, Renton has more of a climate influenced by the interior than many other areas nearby.
|Climate data for Renton, Washington|
|Record high °F (°C)||64
|Average high °F (°C)||43
|Average low °F (°C)||32
|Record low °F (°C)||−10
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||5.3
The 2019 median income for households in Renton is $70,661, while the mean household income is $89,808. The per capita income is $49,624 – 9% of families and 12% of individuals are below the federal poverty line, while 15% of those under 18 and 9% of those 65 years or older are below.
As of the census of 2010, there were 90,927 people, 36,009 households, and 21,849 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,932.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,518.5/km2). There were 38,930 housing units at an average density of 1,683.8 per square mile (650.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 54.6% White (49.4% Non-Hispanic White), 10.6% African American, 0.7% Native American, 21.2% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, 6.2% from other races, and 5.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.1% of the population.
There were 36,009 households, of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.3% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.16.
The median age in the city was 35.2 years. 23.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 33.5% were from 25 to 44; 24.4% were from 45 to 64; and 10.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.
The Boeing Renton Factory has operated since World War II when it manufactured the B-29 Superfortress; currently, it produces the 737 airliner. The Renton plant produced the Jetfoil and Pegasus class hydrofoils in the 1970s. As of 2001, 40% of all commercial aircraft in the air were assembled in Renton. Boeing remains the largest employer in Renton, which is home to over 10,000 employees and three of the aerospace giant's six major business divisions: Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Capital Corporation and the Shared Services Group. The local newspaper in the 1970s, the Record Chronicle, proclaimed the city the jet capital of the world.
Paccar has traditionally been a large employer in the city as well with its Kenworth Truck plant located in Renton's industrial area on the south end of Lake Washington. In 1907 the Seattle Car Mfg Company also known as the Car Company moved to a large manufacturing plant in Renton after demand for the company's railroad equipment exceeded the capacity of its Seattle plant. The Car Company was the only manufacturer of train cars on the west coast.
The Renton plant expanded to foundry capabilities in 1911, and Seattle Car and Foundry Co merged with the Twohy Brothers of Portland in 1917 and became the Pacific Car and Foundry Company or Paccar. During the great depression the Renton Paccar plant developed power winches for use in the logging industry. When World War II arrived the Renton manufacturing switched its production towards the war effort, and by the war's end in 1945 had built 1,500 Sherman Tanks. In the second half of the 20th century there was not enough repeat business for Paccar-built train cars as rail equipment in 1965 came to only 1/3 of the company's sales. Thus the Paccar Renton plant began manufacturing structural steel until the 1970s recession. In the early 1980s the Paccar Railcar Division; the last remnants of the original Pacific Car and Foundry Co closed down. In 1993, a new Kenworth assembly plant opened on the former site of Pacific Car and Foundry.
As of 2016 the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|2||Valley Medical Center||2,547|
|3||Renton School District No. 403||1,540|
|4||Federal Aviation Administration||1,450|
|5||Providence Washington Regional Services||1,414|
|7||Group Health Cooperative||932|
|8||City of Renton||713|
|10||King County Total||555|
|12||Wizards of the Coast||445|
|13||Renton Technical College||378|
|15||Health Point Total||372|
The Renton School District provides K–12 public schooling. Additionally, the Issaquah School District serves a small portion of unincorporated Renton neighborhoods. The Tahoma School District serves a small portion of Renton along Maple Valley Highway. The Kent School District serves the majority of Fairwood, a census-designated place between Renton and Maple Valley.
The Renton School District includes the following high schools (grades 9–12):
Middle schools (grades 6–8):
- Dimmitt Middle School
- McKnight Middle School
- Nelsen Middle School
- Risdon Middle School
Elementary schools (K–5):
- Benson Hill Elementary School
- Bryn Mawr Elementary School
- Campbell Hill Elementary School
- Cascade Elementary School
- Hazelwood Elementary School
- Highlands Elementary School
- Honeydew Elementary School
- Kennydale Elementary School
- Lakeridge Elementary School
- Maplewood Heights Elementary School
- Renton Park Elementary School
- Sartori Elementary School
- Sierra Heights Elementary School
- Talbot Hill Elementary School
- Tiffany Park Elementary School
The southern region of the Issaquah School District includes the following schools in unincorporated Renton neighborhoods:
- Liberty High School
- Maywood Middle School
- Apollo Elementary School
- Briarwood Elementary School
The northeastern region of the Kent School District includes the following schools in unincorporated Renton neighborhoods:
- Kentridge High School
- Meeker Middle School
- Northwood Middle School
- Carriage Crest Elementary School
- Fairwood Elementary School
- Glenridge Elementary School
- Ridgewood Elementary School
The northern region of the Tahoma School District includes schools that serve Renton but are located in Maple Valley and surrounding areas:
- Tahoma High School (Maple Valley)
- Maple View Middle School (Covington)
- Shadow Lake Elementary School (Maple Valley)
- Cedar River Elementary School (Maple Valley)
- Tahoma Elementary School (Hobart)
Government and politics
|2020||28.09% 13,964||68.98% 34,283||2.93% 1,456|
Renton has two sister cities:
Renton is served by King County Metro and Sound Transit Express buses. Clayton Scott Field (KRNT), located just north of downtown Renton, houses several facilities that offer charter services and flight training.
- Jamal Crawford, NBA player for Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers; grew up in Seattle, resides in Renton during off-season.
- Clint Eastwood, actor and director, was a lifeguard at Renton's Kennydale Beach in 1949, 1950, and 1953.
- Joshua Farris, figure skater, was born in Renton
- Avery Garrett, former Mayor of Renton 1969; Washington House Representative of 11th District 1977–1984; State Senator 1984–1985
- Sally Jewell, 51st United States Secretary of the Interior and former CEO of REI, grew up in Renton and graduated from Renton High School
- Sean Kinney, drummer for Alice in Chains, grew up in Renton
- Zach LaVine, NBA player for Chicago Bulls, selected in first round of 2014 NBA draft by Minnesota Timberwolves, won Slam Dunk Contest during 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend; born in Renton
- Sam Longoria, Hollywood producer-director, grew up in Renton, graduating Renton High School
- Rick May, voice actor and theatrical director and actor
- Emily Rose, actress known for her work on the Uncharted video game series and on the SyFy television series Haven, was born in Renton
- Brandon Roy, former NBA basketball player for Portland Trail Blazers, resides in Renton
- Doug Sisk, former pitcher for the New York Mets, born in Renton.
- Aretha Thurmond, 3-time Olympic discus thrower and 2-time Pan American Games gold medalist, grew up in Renton and graduated from Renton High School
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