Auburn is a city in King County and additionally Pierce County, Washington, United States; with the majority of spatial land area within King County. The population was 70,180 at the 2010 United States Census. Auburn is a suburb in the Seattle metropolitan area. Auburn is currently ranked the fourteenth largest city in the state of Washington.
Auburn is bordered by the cities of Federal Way, Pacific, and Algona to the west, Sumner to the south, Kent to the north, and unincorporated King County to the east. The Muckleshoot Indian Reservation is located within southern city limits.
Auburn was originally incorporated as Slaughter, Washington after Lt. William Slaughter, who died in a skirmish in 1855. At the time, the main hotel in town was called the "Slaughter House." In 1893, a large group of settlers from Auburn, New York, moved to Slaughter, and renamed the town to "Auburn." Due to this history, when Auburn was building its second high school in the mid-1990s, there was a grass-roots effort to name the high school "Slaughter High School," but it was eventually decided that the name would be "Auburn Riverside High Schooll," whose mascots are the Ravens.
There are several locations in Auburn on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, such as the Neely Mansion.
The city of Auburn, located south of Seattle, Washington, was home to some of the earliest settlers in King County. Nestled in a fertile river valley, Auburn has been both a farm community and a center of business and industry for more than 150 years. Auburn is located near the original confluence of the Green and White rivers, both of which contain runoff water from the Cascade Mountain range. The valley was originally the home of the Skopamish, Smalhkamish, and Stkamish Indian tribes. The first white men in the region were explorers and traders who arrived in the 1830s.
Settlers first came to the valley in the 1850s. In November, a military unit led by Lieutenant William Slaughter camped near what is now present-day Auburn.
A new treaty was written which provided the establishment of the Muckleshoot reservation, which is the only Indian reservation now within the boundaries of King County. The White River tribes collectively became known as the Muckleshoot tribe.
White settlers, the Neely and Ballard families began returning to the area. In 1891, the town of Slaughter incorporated. Although many older citizens considered the town's name as a memorial, many newer residents understandably felt uncomfortable with it. Within two years, the town was renamed Auburn, taken from the first line of Oliver Goldsmith's poem, The Deserted Village: "Sweet Auburn! Loveliest village of the plain."
Auburn had been a bustling center for hop farming until 1890 when the crops were destroyed by aphids. After that, the farms were mostly dairy farms and berry farms. Nevertheless, flooding was still a problem for Auburn farmers up until the Howard A. Hanson Dam was opened in 1962. This dam on the Green River, along with the Mud Mountain Dam on the White River, provided controlled river management, which left the valley nearly flood-free and opened up the rich bottom lands for industrial development.
Another impetus to Auburn's growth was the railroad. The Northern Pacific Railway's subsidiary the Northern Pacific and Puget Sound Shore Railroad opened a line from approximately Puyallup, Washington, through to Seattle, Washington, in 1882. The Seattle-Tacoma Interurban line that allowed easy access to both cities starting in 1902. The railroad, along with better roads, caused many new companies to set up business in Auburn, among them the Borden Condensery (which made Borden's Condensed Milk) and the Northern Clay Company.
Through the twentieth century Auburn grew like many American towns. Many young men went off to fight in the First World War, which was followed by the great influenza epidemic. The 1920s were prosperous for citizens, but the Great Depression of the 1930s left many in need. World War II brought great hardship to many local Japanese-American farmers when they were moved to internment camps and their land taken from them. At the same time, local boys were sent to fight in the Pacific, North Africa, and Europe. Many were wounded and some died in battle.
The post-war era was prosperous to Auburn, bringing more businesses and a community college to the city. In 1963, the Boeing Company built a large facility to mill sheet metal skin for jet airliners. As time went on, many farms disappeared as the land was converted to industrial use. In 1995, The SuperMall of the Great Northwest was built in the valley, bringing in consumers from all over the Puget Sound region.
Much of the city's transition from agricultural small town to industrial and suburban development remains. A monument in the memory of Lieutenant Slaughter, erected in 1918, still stands in a local park. The Neely Mansion, built by the son of a pioneer in 1891, has been refurbished and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Auburn's downtown still maintains a "Main Street U.S.A." appearance.
Beginning in the late 1970s Auburn's downtown began a slow decline in business and travel. A 2001 citizens plan gathered ideals and realizations of the citizens of Auburn and what they wanted in downtown. After several years, development has begun. In 2008, construction began of a new 300 stall, parking garage and medical building for the Auburn Regional Medical Center, located directly north of city hall.
With the garage now being built, now parking opportunity have allowed city code to continue with the re-development of the downtown core. In 2009 a city hall annex and a Key Bank Branch anchored to the east will sit on the current site of the abandoned tavern row.
With the main project intended to encompass a regional entertainment and shopping center, while being an Urban Center, the “Auburn Junction” will complete that goal. Proposed and adopted by the city council Alpert International will begin construction in 2010, with , and a price tag of $240,000,000, the Junction will include retail below and high density apartments/condos above. An AMC theatre and traditional courtyard will be included. It will cover the main block on the former Cavanaugh Hardware site.
In addition to the Auburn Junction, the Stratford company will construct a 200-unit mixed use development called Auburn Station I and II, set for construction in late 2009. It will be located in the heart of downtown adjacent to the Auburn Sounder Station With the redevelopment occurring at fast rate, projections are that downtown in the next 15 years will once again become vital and vibrant while enticing all, throughout the lower Puget Sound area.