Pierce County, Washington
|Pierce County, Washington|
Location in the state of Washington
Washington's location in the U.S.
|Founded||December 22, 1852|
1,806 sq mi (4,678 km²)
1,679 sq mi (4,349 km²)
128 sq mi (332 km²), 7.06%
473/sq mi (182.8/km²)
|Time zone||Pacific: UTC-8/-7|
Pierce County is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of Washington behind King County. Formed out of Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the legislature of Oregon Territory, it was named for U.S. President Franklin Pierce. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 795,225. The county seat is Tacoma, which is also the county's largest city, on Commencement Bay.
Pierce County is notable for being home to the Mount Rainier volcano, the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range. Its most recent recorded eruption was between 1820 and 1854. There is no imminent risk of eruption, but geologists expect that the volcano will erupt again. If this should happen, parts of Pierce County and the Puyallup Valley would be at risk from lahars, lava, or pyroclastic flows. The Mount Rainier Volcano Lahar Warning System was established in 1998 to assist in the evacuation of the Puyallup River valley in case of eruption.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,806 square miles (4,679 km²), of which 1,679 square miles (4,348 km²) is land and 128 square miles (330 km²) (7.06%) is water. The highest natural point in Washington, Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet (4,392 m), is located in Pierce County.
Geographic features 
- Anderson Island
- Carbon River
- Cascade Range
- Case Inlet
- Commencement Bay
- Fox Island
- Herron Island
- Ketron Island
- Key Peninsula
- Lake Tapps (Washington)
- McNeil Island
- Mount Rainier, highest point in both the county and Washington state.
- Nisqually River
- Puget Sound
- Puyallup River
- Raft Island
- Tacoma Narrows
Pierce County also contains the Clearwater Wilderness area.
Adjacent counties 
- King County, Washington - north
- Yakima County, Washington - east
- Lewis County, Washington - south
- Thurston County, Washington - west/southwest
- Mason County, Washington - west/northwest
- Kitsap County, Washington - north/northwest
National protected areas 
- Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (part)
- Mount Rainier National Park (part)
- Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (part)
As of the census of 2000, there were 700,820 people, 260,800 households, and 180,212 families residing in the county. The population density was 417 people per square mile (161/km²). There were 277,060 housing units at an average density of 165 per square mile (64/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 78.39% White, 6.95% Black or African American, 1.42% Native American, 5.08% Asian, 0.85% Pacific Islander, 2.20% from other races, and 5.11% from two or more races. 5.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.1% were of German, 8.6% Irish, 8.2% English, 6.3% United States or American and 6.2% Norwegian ancestry according to the 2000 census.
There were 260,800 households out of which 35.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.80% were married couples living together, 11.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.90% were non-families. 24.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the county, the population was spread out with 27.20% under the age of 18, 9.80% from 18 to 24, 31.30% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 10.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,204, and the median income for a family was $52,098. Males had a median income of $38,510 versus $28,580 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,948. About 7.50% of families and 10.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.20% of those under age 18 and 7.20% of those age 65 or over.
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
|2012||54.4% 186,430||43.3% 148,467|
|2008||54.9% 181,824||42.8% 141,673|
|2004||50.5% 158,231||48.1% 150,783|
|2000||51.4% 138,249||44.1% 118,431|
|1996||50.6% 120,893||37.4% 89,295|
|1992||42.4% 102,243||32.1% 77,410|
|1988||49.7% 96,688||48.4% 94,167|
Residents of Pierce County, Washington, live in one of four U.S. congressional districts:
- Washington's 6th congressional district includes the city of Tacoma west of Washington State Route 7, Gig Harbor, and the Key Peninsula. The 6th district had been represented since 1977 by Norm Dicks, but in 2012, following Dick's retirement, he was replaced by Derek Kilmer (Democrat).
- Washington's 8th congressional district covers the eastern half of the county, from Bonney Lake east to Mt. Rainier. The 8th district has been represented since 2005 by Dave Reichert (Republican).
- Washington's 9th congressional district, which following the 2011 redistricting, now only includes Northeast Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma in Pierce County. The 9th district has been represented since 1997 by Adam Smith (Democrat).
- Washington's 10th congressional district was newly created in the 2011 redistricting, contains much of the territory in Pierce County lost by the 9th Congressional district including parts of the city of Tacoma south of I-5 and east of Washington State Route 7, Puyallup, Lakewood, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The new 10th district has only ever been represented since its creation in 2012 by Denny Heck (Democrat).
Census-recognized communities 
- Anderson Island
- Auburn (partial)
- Bonney Lake
- Elk Plain
- Enumclaw (partial)
- Fort Lewis
- Fox Island
- Gig Harbor
- Ketron Island
- Key Center
- La Grande
- McChord AFB
- Milton (partial)
- Pacific (partial)
- Prairie Ridge
- South Hill
- South Prairie
- University Place
Other communities 
Pierce County agriculture has been an instrumental part of the local economy for almost 150 years. However, in the last half century much of the county's farmland has been transformed into residential areas. Pierce County has taken aggressive steps to reverse this trend; the county recently created the Pierce County Farm Advisory Commission. This advisory board helps local farmers with the interpretation of land use regulations as well as the promotion of local produce. The creation of the Pierce County Farm Advisory Commission will hopefully save the remaining 48,000 acres of Pierce County farmland. Despite the loss of farmland, Pierce County continues to produce about 50% of the United States' rhubarb.
Arts and culture 
Pierce County boasts a thriving arts and culture community. Arts organizations within Pierce County include:the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Grand Cinema, Lakewood Playhouse, Museum of Glass, Northwest Sinfonietta, Speakeasy Arts Cooperative, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Little Theater, Tacoma Concert Band, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Philharmonic, Tacoma Symphony, Dance Theater Northwest, Washington State History Museum and others. Wintergrass, a yearly festival that takes place over several days in February every year, was honored in 2005 as "Bluegrass Festival of the year in 2005". (It was moved to Bellevue starting in 2010.) The City of Tacoma celebrates "Art at Work" month every November to encourage participation and support for the arts community in that city. ArtsFund, a regional United Arts Fund, has been supporting the arts community in Pierce County since 1969.
Every year in April, the Pierce County Daffodil Festival and Parade is held. Established in 1934, it is one of the regions prominent attractions. It is also home to the Puyallup Fair, held every September. The Puyallup Fair is nationally accredited and recognized.
Public school districts in Pierce County include Tacoma Public Schools, Auburn-Dieringer School District, Bethel School District, Carbonado School District, Clover Park School District, Eatonville School District, Fife School District, Franklin Pierce School District, Orting School District, Peninsula School District, Puyallup School District, Steilacoom Historical Schools District, Sumner School District, University Place School District, White River School District, and Yelm School District (map of districts: ). Private schools include the Cascade Christian Schools group, Life Christian School and Academy, Bellarmine, and Charles Wright Academy. Libraries include the Pierce County Library System, the Tacoma Library System, and the Puyallup Public Library.
Higher education 
Tacoma Community College was established in 1965 and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It is supported through state funds and resources from the Tacoma Community College Foundation. Over 15,000 students enroll at TCC annually (2006–2007). Nearly half a million students have attended TCC since its opening.
Government of Pierce County 
|This section requires expansion. (August 2009)|
Pierce County has adopted and is governed by a Charter. This is allowed by section 4 of Article XI of the Washington constitution. The Pierce County Executive, currently Pat McCarthy (D), heads the county's executive branch. The Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan (NP), Auditor Julie Anderson (NP), Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist (D), and Sheriff Paul A. Pastor (NP) are also countywide elected executive positions.
The Pierce County Council is the elected legislative body for Pierce County and consists of seven members elected by district. The council is vested with all law-making power granted by its charter and by the State of Washington, sets county policy through the adoption of ordinances and resolutions, approves the annual budget and directs the use of county funds. The seven members of the County Council are elected from each of seven contiguous and equally populated districts, with each councilmember representing approximately 114,000 county residents. Each county councilmember is elected to serve a four-year term.
- Dan Roach (R), District 1
- Joyce McDonald (R), District 2 - Chair
- Jim McCune (R), District 3
- Connie Ladenburg (D), District 4
- Rick Talbert (D), District 5
- Douglas Richardson (R), District 6
- Stan Flemming (R), District 7
Beneath the Washington Supreme Court and the Washington Court of Appeals, judicial power rests first in the Pierce County Superior Court, which is divided in to 22 departments - each headed by an elected judge, as well as a clerk of the superior court and eight superior court commissioners. Below that is the Pierce County District Court - with eight elected judges, the Tacoma Municipal Court - with three elected judges, and the Pierce County Juvenile Court. Tacoma houses the Pierce County Courthouse.
The people of Pierce County voted on November 5, 1918 to create a Port District. The Port of Tacoma is Pierce County's only Port District. It is governed Port of Tacoma Commission - five Port Commissioners, who are elected at-large countywide and serve four-year terms. The Port of Tacoma owns six container terminals, one grain terminal and an auto import terminal; all of which are leased out to foreign and domestic corporations to operate. In addition, the port owns and operates two breakbulk cargo terminals.
Many charter amendments have been on the ballot in the last five years, but sequential numbering does not carryover from year-to-year.
The Port of Tacoma is the sixth busiest container port in North America, and one of the 25 busiest in the world, and it plays an important part in the local economy. This deep-water port covers 2,400 acres (9.7 km²) and offers a combination of facilities and services including 34 deepwater berths, two million square feet (190,000 m²) of warehouse and office space, and 131 acres (530,000 m²) of industrial yard. One economic impact study showed that more the 28,000 jobs in Pierce County are related to the Port activities.
Pierce County's official transportation provider is Pierce Transit. It provides buses, paratransit, and rideshare vehicles. The regional Sound Transit runs a light rail line through downtown Tacoma, and provides several regional express buses. Also, Intercity Transit provides transportation between Tacoma, Lakewood, and Thurston County.
Major highways 
- Interstate 5
- Interstate 705
- State Route 16 (Tacoma Narrows Bridge)
- State Route 167
- State Route 410
- State Route 512
Ferry routes 
As of 2006, 38% of the methamphetamine labs (138 sites) cleaned up by the Washington Department of Ecology were in Pierce County. This reduction from a high of 589 labs in 2001 comes in part to a new law restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine and in part due to tougher prison sentences for methamphetamine producers.
See also 
- Reinartz, Kay. "History of King County Government 1853–2002" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-29.
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- "Democracy for Washington: Washington Congressional Districts Map". Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Preserving Farmland and Farmers: Pierce County Agriculture Pierce County Farm Advisory Commission
- "Pierce County Agriculture". Pierce County Washington. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
- Mulick, Stacey; Meth battle sees new fronts; The News Tribune (Tacoma); February 19, 2007.
- Pierce County, Washington@USCB United States Census Bureau
||Kitsap County||King County||Kittitas County|
|Mason County||Yakima County|
|Thurston County||Lewis County|