Speaking of place…

I grew up in Kent, Washington (so did my wife). That was long after this photo, though:

It was named for the region in England where hops were grown because, again before I was born, hops were the primary agricultural product around there. What I find fascinating, though, are the vestiges. The article names some of the early pioneers in that area — Ezra Meeker, Everett Titus — and I lived on Titus street, and the central business district was on Meeker. And that practice left a mark on the economy of the town.

The legacy of hops continues today, even though the Kent Valley is no longer farmland. When produce and dairy farming went away, existing railroad networks and flat farmland helped Kent scale up as a center of manufacturing and warehousing.

“We really built an infrastructure that even after hops left has become fertile ground for industry, for manufacturing, for warehousing,” Garfield said.

Yeah. I detested Kent when I was growing up. Warehouses. I lived through a transition, when the city was taking everything that was lovely and green and pleasant about the place, covering it with asphalt, and putting up warehouses all along the river, with the bonus of tearing down businesses to build more gas stations for the commuter population. Kent was a desert for human beings for a long, long time. I hear it has improved since then, but it couldn’t help bet get better.


  1. says

    The photo is labeled with “Slaughter, Wash”. That was the next town to the south, now called Auburn, which is where most of my family lives. I can’t imagine why they changed the name.

  2. taco_emoji says

    Milwaukee had the same thing happen with warehouses popping up along the rivers, and now they’re all turning into breweries.

  3. dhabecker says

    The great wall builder will make it all great again, as soon as he puts Bear Ears back on the block for exploitation.

  4. Acolyte of Sagan says

    If it’s any consolation, Kent, the English county* which is just one of the many places in the South of England growing hops, is still a beautiful place.

    *bloody Americans and their lack of geography!

  5. says

    I used to work for a co-op organic brewing supply store for home and micro brewers. We’d get Kent Golding hops from the UK. We would get this little old English woman who would come in once a month or so for the hops. She used them in her bed time tea. It was a nice change of pace from the normal homebrewer.

  6. Larry says

    and now they’re all turning into breweries.

    I’m not sure breweries are an improvment. You realize what all these breweries bring, dontcha?

    Dudebros. Hipster doofi with the porkpie hats and the scraggly beards. Not to mention really bad chicken wings and other greasy appetizers. I think I prefer the dark and the dank.

  7. rustiguzzi says

    FWIW, the town of Slaughter may well have been named after Upper and Lower Slaughter, in Gloucestershire, England. In the Domesday Book (1086) the name is ‘Sclostre’, which is probably from an Old English word meaning “muddy place”. Hope that helps.

    Source: “the Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names”

  8. davidc1 says

    Any one read Coming Up For Air by George Orwell ?
    A scene in it touches on wot the Doc wrote about cities taking over the countryside .
    A man intends to visit his childhood home to go fishing ,he reaches the top of the hill and instead of a village he sees a new town laid out before him ,might be a bit vague of the details ,but you get the idea

  9. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    PZ’s description of Kent is how I thought of it, growing up in the North End, but now that I live here it’s not so bad.

    Of course the fact that to do any real shopping you have to go all the way up East Hill (properly East Cliff) is annoying, to say no more, but modernity having deserted the Valley (aka Green River floodplain) leaves the old Downtown here full of quirky little restaurants and shops.

  10. nickrud says

    The settlement that became Auburn was first named for Lt. William Slaughter, who was killed in the area in 1855 during a conflict with local Indian tribes. It was renamed by immigrants from the east in 1893 (damned immigrants, can’t leave well enough alone). I got taught this at Auburn High, class of ’74, and refreshed my memory on dates.

    We may have crossed paths, PZ, since Kent was where we went to cause trouble back then ;)

  11. cartomancer says

    Acolyte of Sagan, #4

    Most of Kent is still leafy and pleasant (if predictably full of Tories), but the arse-end up in the Northwest is a right hole. Gravesend in particular. Never trust anyone born in Gravesend – terrible bunch of chancers and ne’er-do-wells that lot.

  12. Le Chifforobe says

    My mother has inherited several hop harvest pictures like this one, taken a bit further south around Orting, WA.

    But where only a few Slaughterites bothered to wear hop garlands, the good folks of Orting went whole hop. Some really fun images.

  13. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    nicrud @ 10:

    The settlement that became Auburn was first named for Lt. William Slaughter, who was killed in the area in 1855 during a conflict with local Indian tribes.

    And Burien, from whence I last moved, was originally called “Sunnydale”. Not an…apt…description.

  14. nickrud says

    Le Chifferobe @13:

    Another blast from my past. The Rudnicks (now you know where I got my nick) have been in Orting since ‘time immemorial’ – we even have a street named for us. Myself, I only lived there for a couple years around middle school age. Hops I don’t remember, but the mating rituals of tweens took place in the daffodil fields around there.

  15. johnlee says

    The best thing about the county of Kent is that it’s next door to Sussex.

  16. blf says

    The best thing about the county of Kent is that it’s next door to Sussex.

    As a reminder, the Sussex (UK) police are poorly-disguised fascists, Photographer held under anti-terror law for taking Hove town hall pictures (the Granuiad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Eddie Mitchell was held for about an hour while police checked his camera. It was eventually found there was no reason to believe that the press photographer, who works for outlets including the BBC, was a terrorist.

    “I respect wholeheartedly that the police have a job to do,” Mitchell said, “but there should be clarity on people taking pictures in a public place: it is not a crime{…} As far as I am concerned, it is a total misuse and abuse of power.”

    Mitchell declined to explain who he was or what he was doing to a passing member of police staff on the grounds that he was not breaking any laws. Both he and Sussex police agreed that the conversation was not antagonistic.


    Stand anyplace in Sussex and you will be interrogated and probably arrested. Do something “dangerous”, like use a camera or breathe, arrest seems certain…