Location of Monroe, Washington
Location of Monroe, Washington
Coordinates: 47°51′28″N 121°59′18″W / 47.85778°N 121.98833°W / 47.85778; -121.98833Coordinates: 47°51′28″N 121°59′18″W / 47.85778°N 121.98833°W / 47.85778; -121.98833
IncorporatedDecember 20, 1902
 • TypeMayor–council
 • MayorGeoffrey Thomas
 • Total6.15 sq mi (15.94 km2)
 • Land6.09 sq mi (15.78 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.16 km2)
72 ft (22 m)
 • Total17,304
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,083.20/sq mi (1,190.36/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code360
FIPS code53-46685
GNIS feature ID1523319[4]

Monroe is a city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Skykomish, Snohomish, and Snoqualmie rivers in the Cascade foothills, about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Seattle. The population was 17,304 at the 2010 census.[5] The population was estimated at 19,363 in 2018.


The confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers had originally belonged to the indigenous Skykomish tribe, who predominantly occupied the area between modern-day Monroe and Index.[6] The confluence itself was known as Tualco (Lushootseed: squa'lxo), and a nearby Skykomish village named S'dodohobc acted as a trade post between several Coast Salish groups.[6][7] The land around the confluence was cleared into a prairie and used to cultivate berries, hazelnuts, and other plants.[8] The Skykomish were among the tribes to sign the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855, effectively ceding their traditional territories, including the Tulaco and confluence areas.[7]

The area around modern-day Monroe was surveyed by George B. McClellan and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during their expedition to find a suitable pass for a railroad across the Cascade Mountains.[8] The Treaty of Point Elliott was not fully ratified until 1859, but the first American settlers had already arrived and claimed squatters rights to homestead in the Skykomish Valley. Robert Smallman, an English immigrant, arrived in 1855 and was the first to homestead on the land around modern-day Monroe.[8] He was followed by Henry McClurg, an appointed county commissioner, who settled in the area with his wife in 1860. He later founded the settlement of Park Place in 1864, on a site one mile (1.6 km) west of modern-day downtown Monroe.[7][9][10]

The history of Monroe is intertwined with that of the Great Northern Railway which pushed over the Cascade Range at Stevens Pass and worked its way down the Skykomish River Valley.[11]

Prior to that time the main settlement in the area had been located about one mile (1.5 km) west of where the downtown eventually grew up and was known as Park Place. However, the city's merchants relocated when the railroad survey was completed to have better access to the new transportation corridor. The new development was originally known as Tye City, but became Monroe when Park Place's main store, the one containing the U.S. Post Office, relocated and took up the name "Monroe at Park Place" in honor of James Monroe, the nation's fifth president. Because the U.S. Postal Department would not allow any new post offices to use double names, the post office, and eventually the town, became known simply as "Monroe."[12]

By 1893 the city had become an important stop on the rail line and was best known for the GN Greenhouses, which grew flowers for the passengers to purchase. That same year, Snohomish County built the County Poor Farm where today's Evergreen State Fairgrounds are located; the city's first hospital was built where EvergreenHealth Monroe stands today. 1894 saw the construction of the first high bridge over the Skykomish River and 1896 the construction of the first church. In 1899 the grammar school was relocated from its old site in Park Place to a new site in Monroe and the town's newspaper, The Monroe Monitor, began publication on January 14 of the same year. On September 16, 1901 a fire destroyed the only complete block of business in the city. The city was shaken by that, but quickly built back up. Nowadays, the town of Monroe has a population of 17,286 residents, with thriving small businesses. On the old area of Park Place is Park Place Middle School, there for its dedication.

Carnation Condensery Stack (photographed 2009).

The economic area of the city saw a series of development as well. While the city was still in its infancy, many sawmills were constructed to take advantage of the area's old growth cedar and cedar shakes became the main product. However, as the timber played out and the logging industry slowly moved away, agriculture became the area's new industry and berry farms began to flourish. Because of the lush valley grasses, dairy farms too moved into the area and soon several creameries began production. Evidence of this industry can still be seen today as the giant smokestack of the Carnation Condensery, a factory which was destroyed by fire in the 1940s, still stands in the middle of what is today a grocery store parking lot at the intersection of Main Street and US Route 2. It is a lone reminder of this forgotten industrial era and, despite its age, it remains much taller than any other structure in the city.

Old City Hall, built 1908, now (2013) home to the Monroe Historical Society and Monroe Historical Museum.

The City of Monroe officially voted to incorporate on December 20, 1902 and the new city counted 325 people in its population. In 1910, around the same time as the construction of the Carnation Condensery, Washington State chose Monroe as the site of the Washington State Reformatory.[13]

The Great Depression struck Monroe as it did elsewhere in the nation and much of the town's industry closed down. As a result, the city fathers applied for national funds and established programs to help the town. The funds built a school, which can still be seen on Main Street, as well as road improvements. In 1941, the first fair was held in Monroe, known as the Cavalcade of the Valleys, at the County Poor Farm. Although interrupted by World War II, the fair resumed in 1946 with the help of many local residents such as Mr. and Mrs. Shine Peters, then owners of Monroe Floral, who helped plant all the flowers shrubs and trees that decorated the grounds from their nursery. Local farmers and Grange members' contributions helped establish many traditions the Evergreen State Fair continues to take pride in. The annual fair remains an important part of the city's culture today.

This old house near the center of Monroe was once used as an antique shop.

After the depression and war, industry did not return to the city and the town became ever more oriented towards agriculture. It continued to grow, albeit slowly, throughout much of the 1950s and '60s. In April 1965 a major earthquake struck Western Washington and the original Monroe High School and its annex were so severely damaged that they later had to be demolished. The new high school opened in 1968. A new high school was built in 1999.[10]

In the early 1970s Monroe became the terminus for State Route 522 (Originally SR 202, before being realigned into SR 522), which offers a more direct connection to Interstate 405 and larger cities to the south. This has opened the city up and helped to establish it as a true bedroom community for several Eastside job centers. The highway meets up with U.S. Route 2 in the town.[14] Between 1980 and 2000, the population of the city doubled to over 6,700.[15]

The Doloff-Key building at the very center of old Monroe, the corner of Main and Lewis Streets, dates back to 1901. Pictured here in 2009.

During the first decade of the 21st century, Monroe saw growth in unexpected new proportions as many large strip malls and major retailers have built new complexes along US 2. The city's residential areas have greatly expanded as well and the highway has become the scene of major gridlock, especially during summer months and major holidays. A bypass has long been considered for US 2, but no firm construction plans have been approved.

The old part of town stands much as it always has, on Main Street away from the busy highway, and has managed to preserve much of its small town character. Trains still regularly pass through the town on their way across Stevens Pass and the sound of their horns is a common feature of life in the city. Since 2007, Monroe's Old Town district has begun a revitalization program.[16][17]


Monroe is located in south-central Snohomish County near the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers, which forms the Snohomish River and empties into Possession Sound near Everett. The city limits are generally defined by Lake Tye and Fyrelands Boulevard to the west, the Skykomish River to the south, Woods Creek to the east, and a hill to the north.[citation needed] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.11 square miles (15.82 km2), of which, 6.05 square miles (15.67 km2) is land and 0.06 square miles (0.16 km2) is water.[18]

On July 12, 2019, a pair of minor earthquakes on the Monroe Fault occurred west of the city and were felt as far as Seattle and Vancouver without causing damage.[19]


The climate in the Monroe area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. Under the Köppen climate classification system, Monroe has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate.

Climate data for Monroe
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 44.9
Average low °F (°C) 32.7
Record low °F (°C) −3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.25
Average snowfall inches (cm) 3.1
Average precipitation days 21 17 19 16 13 11 6 7 10 16 20 21 177
Source: Western Regional Climate Center[20]


Monroe's largest employer is the Washington State Department of Corrections, which operates the Monroe Corrections Complex. Other large employers include the Monroe School District, the Cadman quarry, the Evergreen State Fair, Valley General Hospital, and large retailers.[21]


A taco truck on E. Main Street, 2009, reflects the increasing Hispanic presence in Monroe.
Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201819,363[3]11.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]
2018 Estimate[23]

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 17,304 people, 5,024 households, and 3,600 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,860.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,104.3/km2). There were 5,306 housing units at an average density of 877.0 per square mile (338.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.6% White, 3.5% African American, 1.4% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.4% Pacific Islander, 9.6% from other races, and 3.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.1% of the population.

There were 5,024 households of which 46.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.0% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 28.3% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.41.

The median age in the city was 33.1 years. 26.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 36.1% were from 25 to 44; 21.2% were from 45 to 64; and 7.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 56.3% male and 43.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 13,795 people, 4,173 households, and 3,058 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,388.4 people per square mile (921.5/km2). There were 4,427 housing units at an average density of 766.5 per square mile (295.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.13% White, 3.15% African American, 1.32% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 4.01% from other races, and 2.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.66% of the population. 21.0% were of German, 10.1% English and 9.3% Irish ancestry.

There were 4,173 households out of which 45.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 27.4% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 41.4% from 25 to 44, 14.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 126.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 137.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $50,390, and the median income for a family was $55,793. Males had a median income of $39,847 versus $31,633 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,912. About 5.6% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 14.7% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics

Monroe is a non-charter code city with a mayor–council government. The seven-member city council typically meets on a weekly basis at the city hall, located near downtown.[24] The city councilmembers and mayor are elected to four-year terms that are staggered between even-numbered years.[25]

Correctional centers

The Washington State Reformatory was originally built in 1910 to house young offenders. In 1981, the Special Offender Center was opened to treat offenders with mental health issues. Twin Rivers Correctional Center opened in 1984 as a 500-bed medium-custody facility. The Minimum-Security Unit opened in 1997 to house minimum-custody offenders. In 1998, the four facilities merged into the Monroe Correctional Complex under one Superintendent. The facilities were renamed the Washington State Reformatory Unit (WSRU), Twin Rivers Unit (providing the state's only male sex-offender treatment program in the prison system), Special Offender Unit (for mental health treatment) and the Minimum-Security Unit retained its name. The Intensive Management Unit (IMU) opened in 2007 as the newest addition to the Monroe Correctional Complex. The 100-bed Intensive Management Unit will house behaviorally difficult-to-manage offenders in a highly controlled environment. Since the reformatory first opened, the prison has employed a large number of locals.[26]


The city is home to the annual Evergreen State Fair, a county fair which takes place in late August and early September at a fairground located northwest of downtown Monroe. It is the second largest fair in Washington state, behind the Puyallup Fair, and attracts approximately 350,000 over its twelve-day run.[27][28] The 200-acre (81 ha) fairgrounds are owned by the county government and also host other events,[29] including the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series held a race at the Evergreen Speedway from 1995 to 2000.

Monroe was the theatrical setting for the film The Ring and its sequel, The Ring Two, which were both partially filmed in the city and Stanwood.[30]

The Snohomish County Explosion, a semi-professional basketball team playing in the International Basketball League and the National Athletic Basketball League, hosted its games at Monroe Sports Arena on the high school campus from 2008 to 2010.

Parks and recreation

Monroe's largest city park is Lake Tye Park, which comprises a 49-acre (20 ha) artificial lake that is stocked with fish.[31] The city has two parks located along the Skykomish River: Skykomish River Centennial Park, and Al Borlin Park. The nearest county park is Lord Hill Regional Park, located west of the city.


The former Monroe Elementary School on S. Ferry St. (built 1916), now (in 2009) the Monroe School District Administration Building.

The Monroe School District operates public schools within the city and serves several surrounding communities, including Maltby and Woods Creek.[32] The school district had an enrollment of approximately 7,096 students in 2016, with 303 total teachers and 170 other staff.[33] It has one high school, Monroe High School, that is located next to the Washington State Reformatory and was opened in 1999 after six failed ballot measures to fund the $30 million construction cost.[34]

The district has one middle school and three elementary schools within Monroe city limits, several of which were renovated in 2018 using $111 million in bonds.[35] It also operates alternative education centers for multiple grade levels, including the Sky Valley Educational Center in the former Monroe Middle School building, which was closed after the consolidation of the three middle schools into two buildings.[36][37]



Monroe is located at the intersection of three major highways: U.S. Route 2 (US 2), which travels eastward from Everett towards Stevens Pass; State Route 203, which travels south along the Snoqualmie River towards Fall City and North Bend; State Route 522, which terminates in Monroe and connects the area to Seattle and Bothell to the southwest. US 2 is routinely congested through the Monroe area and plans for a highway bypass have been proposed since the 1970s.[citation needed]

Public transit in Monroe is provided by the countywide Community Transit system, with two local bus routes connecting Everett to Snohomish, Monroe, Sultan, and Gold Bar. A commuter bus route to Downtown Seattle runs during rush hours and travels via State Route 522 and Interstate 405.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 19, 2019. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "USCensusEst2018" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Hollenbeck, Jan L.; Moss, Madonna (1987). A Cultural Resource Overview: Prehistory, Ethnography and History: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. United States Forest Service. pp. 161–163. OCLC 892024380. Retrieved March 6, 2019 – via HathiTrust.
  7. ^ a b c Taylor, Dexter; Monroe Historical Society (2013). Early Monroe. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-7385-9972-4. OCLC 826896466. Retrieved March 6, 2019 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Wojciechowski, Bill (2015). Early Park Place (1860–1935). Monroe Historical Society. pp. 3–10. OCLC 947693655.
  9. ^ a b "Historic Timeline". Monroe Historical Society. December 27, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  10. ^ "Monroe Historical Society". Monroe Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2007-09-20. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
  11. ^ "The Memories of Hiram Ellsworth Pearsall". Monroe Historical Society. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
  12. ^ Taylor (2013), p. 121
  13. ^ Iwasaki, John (June 6, 1998). "This fair ground holds a city in transition". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. D1.
  14. ^ Epes, James (February 23, 1997). "Monroe's doctrine embraces growth". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  15. ^ Monroe Dream Archived 2008-01-29 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Monroe Dream video
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  18. ^ Taylor, Chuck; Sanders, Julia-Grace (July 12, 2019). "Early wake-up call: Twin quakes under Monroe rattle region". The Everett Herald. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  19. ^ "MONROE, WASHINGTON (455525)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  20. ^ "Economic Development Element". City of Monroe. 2013. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  21. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  22. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  23. ^ "Monroe City Council Rules of Procedure". City of Monroe. September 13, 2016. pp. 2–4. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "Elected Officials". City of Monroe. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  25. ^ "Monroe Correctional Complex". Washington State Department of Corrections. 2007. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  26. ^ Giordano, Lizz (September 3, 2018). "No smoke: Evergreen fair attendance might have set a record". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  27. ^ Sheets, Bill (September 20, 2012). "Puyallup Fair renamed, but what's the real state fair?". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  28. ^ Wright, Diane (August 23, 2006). "Rural roots part of fair's fun". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  29. ^ Muhlstein, Julie (February 21, 2009). "See if you recognize Everett in these films". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  30. ^ "Tye Lake". Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  31. ^ Snohomish County School Districts Map (PDF) (Map). Snohomish County. December 21, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  32. ^ "Public School District Directory Information: Monroe School District". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  33. ^ Montgomery, Nancy (September 3, 1998). "High praise for new Edmonds high school". The Seattle Times. p. B1.
  34. ^ Bray, Kari (September 10, 2018). "Thousands of Monroe kids are back to school in new buildings". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  35. ^ "Schools". Monroe School District. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  36. ^ Dominguez, Alejandro (October 24, 2011). "Dispute has Monroe schools paying to rent empty building". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 6, 2019.

External links

  • City website
  • Monroe Historical Society