King County, Washington

King County, Washington
King County, Washington
Flag of King County, Washington
Logo of King County, Washington
Map of Washington highlighting King County
Location in the state of Washington
Map of the U.S. highlighting Washington
Washington's location in the U.S.
Founded December 22, 1852
Named for William Rufus King (1852 - 1986)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986 - Present)
Seat Seattle
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,307 sq mi (5,975 km²)
2,126 sq mi (5,506 km²)
180 sq mi (466 km²), 7.82%
 - (2010)
 - Density

908/sq mi (350.7/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

King County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. The population in the 2010 census was 1,931,249. King is the most populous county in Washington, and the 14th most populous in the United States.

The county seat is Seattle, which is the state's largest city. About two-thirds of the county's population lives in the city's suburbs. King County ranks among the 100 highest-income counties in the United States.



The county was originally named after William Rufus King who was Vice-President when the Washington Territory was created. In 1986 a motion was introduced by Ron Sims (a black Democrat from Seattle), and Bruce Laing (a white Republican from suburban Renton) to rename the county after Martin Luther King, Jr.[1] No public hearings or votes were taken on the change.[2]

On February 24, 1986, the King County Council passed Council Motion 6461 five votes to four setting forth the historical basis for the renaming of King County in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.[3] Because only the state can charter counties, this change was not made official until April 19, 2005, when Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5332 into law.

Council member Larry Gossett shepherded the County Council to a public vote on February 27, 2006 to change the county's logo from a royal crown to an image of King's face.[4] On March 12, 2007, the new logo was unveiled.[5]

Martin Luther King Jr. visited King county for two days in November, 1961.[6]


The county was formed out of territory within Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the Oregon Territory legislature, and was named after Alabama resident William R. King, Vice President under President Franklin Pierce. Seattle was made the county seat on January 11, 1853.[6][7]

King County originally extended to the Olympic Peninsula. According to historian Bill Speidel, when peninsular prohibitionists threatened to shut down Seattle's saloons, Doc Maynard engineered a peninsular independence movement; King County lost what is now Kitsap County, but preserved its entertainment industry.[8]


The present King County Courthouse (2007).

The King County Executive, currently Dow Constantine, heads the county's executive branch. The King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, Elections Director, Sheriff, and the King County Assessor are also elected executive positions. Judicial power is vested in the King County Superior Court and the King County District Court. Seattle houses the King County Courthouse.

King County is represented in the United States Congress through the Washington 7th Congressional District and parts of the 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 9th districts. In the state legislature, King contains the entirety of the 5th, 11th, 33rd, 34th, 36th, 37th, 41st, 43rd, 45th, 46th, 47th, and 48th legislative districts as well as parts of the 1st, 25th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 39th districts.

The people of King County voted on September 5, 1911 to create a Port District. King County's Port of Seattle was established as the first Port District in Washington State. The Port of Seattle is King County's only Port District. It is governed by five Port Commissioners, who are elected countywide and serve four-year terms. Now in its 100th year, the Port of Seattle owns and operates many properties on behalf of King County's citizens, including Sea-Tac International Airport; many seaport facilities around Elliott Bay, including its original property, publicly owned Fishermen's Terminal, home to the North Pacific fishing fleet and the largest homeport for fishermen in the U.S. West Coast;[citation needed] four container ship terminals; two cruise ship terminals; the largest grain export terminal in the U.S. Pacific Northwest; three public marinas; 22 public parks; and nearly 5,000 acres of industrial lands in the Ballard-Interbay and Lower Duwamish industrial centers.

Council members


Presidential Election Results
Year Democrat Republican
2008 70.30% 648,230 28.17% 259,716
2004 64.95% 580,378 33.69% 301,043
2000 60.02% 476,700 34.40% 273,171
1996 56.38% 417,846 31.41% 232,811
1992 50.23% 391,050 27.36% 212,986
1988 53.88% 349,663 44.78% 290,574
1984 46.71% 298,620 52.09% 332,987
1980 39.16% 235,046 45.42% 272,567
1976 45.20% 248,743 50.80% 279,382
1972 40.1% 212,509 56.4% 298,707
1968 47.1% 223,469 46.0% 218,457
1964 59.5% 268,216 39.4% 177,598
1960 47.4% 208,756 50.8% 224,150

King County, which includes Seattle, is a major center for liberal politics and is a bastion for the Democratic Party. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the county by 40%, a larger margin than any previous election. King County has also been the deciding factor for the Democrats in a few recent close statewide elections. In 2000, it was King County that pushed Maria Cantwell's total over that of incumbent Republican Slade Gorton, winning her a seat in the United States Senate. In 2004, King County gave a lead to Democrat Christine Gregoire in the second recount in the state's razor-thin governor's race, pushing her ahead of Republican Dino Rossi, who led by 261 votes after the initial count.[9] Dino Rossi resided in the county at the time of the election in Sammamish.

The suburbs east and south of Seattle have historically tended to be moderate. In the 2005 County Executive race, Republican David Irons beat Democrat Ron Sims outside of Seattle (which voted 74% for Sims), but in 2004, John Kerry received landslide victories in much of the Bellevue and Redmond areas. Generally the suburbs are becoming more liberal on the state and county levels.

In 2004, voters passed a referendum reducing the size of the County Council from 13 members to 9. This resulted in all council seats ending up on the 2005 ballot.

Some residents of eastern King County have long desired to secede and form their own county. This movement was most vocal in the mid-1990s (see Cedar County, Washington).[10][11] It has recently been revived as Cascade County.[12] According to a map published by the Seattle Times,[13] four different geographic borders are being considered. Additional plans (see Skykomish County, Washington) also exist or have existed.


Map of King County

King County has nearly twice the land area of the state of Rhode Island. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,307 square miles (5,975.1 km2). It is the 11th largest county in Washington (of 39) by area. 2,126 square miles (5,506.3 km2) is land and 180 square miles (466.2 km2) is water. 7.82% of the total area is water. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 2426 meters (7,959 feet) above sea level.

King County borders Snohomish County to the north, Kitsap County to the west, Kittitas County to the east, and Pierce County to the south. It also shares a small border with Chelan County to the northeast. King County includes Vashon Island and Maury Island in Puget Sound.

Geographic features

The Cascade Range (including Granite Mountain shown here) dominates the eastern part of King County.



Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 302
1870 2,120 602.0%
1880 6,910 225.9%
1890 63,989 826.0%
1900 110,053 72.0%
1910 284,638 158.6%
1920 389,273 36.8%
1930 463,517 19.1%
1940 504,980 8.9%
1950 732,992 45.2%
1960 935,014 27.6%
1970 1,156,633 23.7%
1980 1,269,749 9.8%
1990 1,507,319 18.7%
2000 1,737,034 15.2%
2010 1,931,249 11.2%
Est. 2011 1,942,600 11.8%

As of the census[14] of 2010, there were 1,931,249 people, 710,916 households, and 420,151 families residing in the county. The population density was 817 people per square mile (315/km²). There were 742,237 housing units at an average density of 349 per square mile (135/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.7% White, 6.2% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 14.6% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, and 5.0% from two or more races. 8.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.2% were of German, 9.1% English, 8.3% Irish and 5.5% Norwegian ancestry according to Census 2000. 81.7% spoke English, 4.2% Spanish, 2.3% Chinese (incl. all variations), 1.5% Vietnamese, 1.3% Tagalog, and 1.0% Korean as their first language.

There were 710,916 households out of which 28.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.40% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.90% were non-families. 30.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.50% under the age of 18, 9.30% from 18 to 24, 34.70% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 10.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

The center of population of Washington in the year 2000 was located in the city of Enumclaw, in King County.[15]

The median income for a household in the county was $53,157, and the median income for a family was $66,035 (these figures had risen to $64,915 and $82,879 respectively as of a 2007 estimate).[16] Males had a median income of $45,802 versus $34,321 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,521. About 5.30% of families and 8.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.40% of those under age 18 and 7.40% of those age 65 or over.

Census-recognized communities

See also Cities in King County.

Incorporated areas

Census-designated places (CDPs)

Other communities

This list may contain communities located entirely within incorporated cities, towns, or CDPs, which should be removed.

Ghost towns


See also


  1. ^,1151250&dq=king-county+william+martin+luther&hl=en
  2. ^,1844333&dq=king-county+william+martin+luther&hl=en
  3. ^ Sims, Ron. "Motion redesignating King County's name". Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  4. ^ Ervin, Keith (February 28, 2006). "Former governor now opposing WASL test for diploma". The Seattle Times. 
  5. ^ "Executive praises County Council for approval of new logo". 2007-12-29. 
  6. ^ Reinartz, Kay. "History of King County Government 1853–2002". Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  7. ^ Bill Speidel, Doc Maynard, The Man Who Invented Seattle (Seattle: Nettle Creek Publishing Co., 1978) (ISBN 0-914890-02-6).
  8. ^ The Seattle Times. 
  9. ^ King County Journal: Proposal would ease creation of new county
  10. ^ King County Journal: Calls for new county intensify - Rural rage revives drive to escape Seattle influence
  11. ^
  12. ^ Cascade County (GIF)
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ King County, Washington - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder

External links

Coordinates: 47°28′N 121°50′W / 47.47°N 121.84°W / 47.47; -121.84

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