Ellensburg, Washington

Ellensburg, Washington

Ellensburg, Washington
Historic Davidson Building, completed in 1890
Historic Davidson Building, completed in 1890
Official seal of Ellensburg, Washington
Location of Ellensburg, Washington
Location of Ellensburg, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Kittitas
Incorporated November 26, 1883
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Manager Ted Barkley
 • Mayor Rich Elliot[1]
 • City 6.97 sq mi (18.05 km2)
 • Land 6.92 sq mi (17.92 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)
Elevation 1,542 ft (470 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 18,174
 • Estimate (2013)[4] 18,363
 • Density 2,626.3/sq mi (1,014.0/km2)
 • Metro 41,672
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 98926
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-21240
GNIS feature ID 1519305[5]
Website City of Ellensburg

Ellensburg is a city in, and the county seat of, Kittitas County, Washington, United States.[6] The population was 18,174 at the 2010 census.[7] Ellensburg is located just east of the Cascade Range on Interstate 90 and is known as the most centrally located city in the state. Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University (CWU).

The surrounding Kittitas Valley is internationally known for the timothy-hay that it produces. There are several local hay brokering and processing operations that ship to Pacific Rim countries. Downtown Ellensburg has many historic buildings, many of which were constructed in the late 19th century. This is a legacy of its bid to be the state capital, which it lost to Olympia.[8] CWU being placed there is another product of that legacy. The state legislature selected Ellensburg as the location for the then Normal School as a consolation prize.[9] Eastern Washington has a much drier climate than Western Washington, and some Seattle-area residents have moved to the city and commute over Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 to jobs located in the Puget Sound region.


Barge Hall, Central Washington University

Ellensburg was officially incorporated on November 26, 1883. John Alden Shoudy came to the Kittitas Valley in 1871, and purchased a small trading post from Andrew Jackson "A.J." Splawn, called "Robber's Roost." Robber's Roost was the first business in the valley, other than the early trading that occurred among American Indians, cattle drivers, trappers, and miners. Robber's Roost was located on the present-day 3rd Avenue, just west of Main Street near the alley. There is a placard on the wall commemorating the location, as well as a small stone monument against the wall on the sidewalk. Shoudy named the town after his wife, Mary Ellen Shoudy, and officially began the city of Ellensburgh around 1872. Shoudy was not the first settler in the Kittitas Valley, nor was he the first businessperson, but he was responsible for platting the city of Ellensburgh in the 1870s, and he was the person who named the streets in the downtown district.

The city was originally named Ellensburgh, until the final -h was dropped under standardization pressure from the United States Postal Service and Board of Geography Names in 1894.[10]

There were several early newspapers in Ellensburg. The Daily Record, however, began in 1909 and is the name of the local newspaper today.[11]

Concerns over the state of Ellensburg's historic downtown led to the formation of the Ellensburg Downtown Association to work on revitalizing the area.[12]


  • The Kittitas County Farmers Market is held every Saturday from May to October in the heart of downtown Ellensburg.[13]
  • Ellensburg hosts the annual Winterhop Brewfest in January. Over 21 micro breweries from around the Pacific Northwest serve their product at various venues in the historic downtown buildings.[14]
  • Every June, Ellensburg hosts Dachshunds on Parade, an event that draws Dachshund dog owners from all over the Northwest. Events include a parade, Dachshund races, pet tricks, and a dog costume contest.[15]
  • Ellensburg hosts the annual Jazz in the Valley music festival on the last weekend in July.[16]
  • Ellensburg is a stop on the PRCA professional rodeo circuit, occurring each year on Labor Day weekend. The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a town tradition since 1923, and is the largest rodeo in Washington state.[11] The rodeo arena is encompassed by the popular Kittitas County Fair, also held during Labor Day weekend. The Kittitas County Fair officially began in 1885, and has been held at its current location since 1923.[17]
  • Downtown Ellensburg hosts Buskers in the Burg the last Saturday in September. Featuring a variety of street performers (buskers), giant puppet art parade, tasting halls, children's activities, and outdoor evening concert.[18]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.97 square miles (18.05 km2), of which 6.92 square miles (17.92 km2) is land and 0.05 square miles (0.13 km2) is water.[2]


Ellensburg experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk).
Climate data for Ellensburg (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 64
Average high °F (°C) 33.7
Daily mean °F (°C) 26.2
Average low °F (°C) 18.6
Record low °F (°C) −29
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.23
Source: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000)[19]


2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 18,174 people, 7,301 households, and 2,889 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,626.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,014.0/km2). There were 7,867 housing units at an average density of 1,136.8 per square mile (438.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.7% White, 1.5% African American, 1.0% Native American, 3.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.6% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.7% of the population.

There were 7,301 households, of which 19.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.2% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 60.4% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.86.

The median age in the city was 23.5 years. 14.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 41.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.8% were from 25 to 44; 13.9% were from 45 to 64; and 8.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.1% male and 49.9% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,414 people, 6,249 households, and 2,649 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,338.9 people per square mile (903.1/km²). There were 6,732 housing units at an average density of 1,021.5 per square mile (394.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.07% White, 1.17% Black or African American, 0.95% Native American, 4.09% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 2.86% from other races, and 2.69% from two or more races. 6.33% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,249 households, of which 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.4% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 57.6% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city, the population was spread out with 15.8% under the age of 18, 39.3% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 12.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,034, and the median income for a family was $37,625. Males had a median income of $31,022 versus $22,829 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,662. About 18.8% of families and 34.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.

Politics and government

The City of Ellensburg uses the Manager/Council form of government with a City Manager hired by the City Council. The seven-member City Council is elected at large and serve 4-year terms. The City Council elects a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from the Council to serve 2-year terms. The Council meets the first and third Monday of each month, at 7:00 pm, in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

On the state legislative level, Ellensburg is in the 13th district. As of 2013, its state senator is Republican Janéa Holmquist Newbry, and its two state representatives are Republicans Judy Warnick and Matt Manweller. On the congressional level, Ellensburg is located in Washington's 8th congressional district and is represented by Republican Dave Reichert.

Kittitas County supported Senator John McCain of Arizona over then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in the 2008 presidential election, with both receiving 53 and 45 percent of the vote, respectively. [21] Then, in the 2010 Senate race, Republican Dino Rossi carried the city over Democratic Senator Patty Murray with 50.7 percent of the vote to Murray's 49.3 percent.


Higher education

Public schools

Public schools are operated by Ellensburg School District 401. The district includes one high school (Ellensburg High School), one middle school, and three elementary schools.[22]

Notable people

Rock musicians

Ellensburg produced the grunge / alternative rock band Screaming Trees, which included members:


  1. ^ Ellensburg City Council
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder.  
  8. ^ Ellensburg loses its bid to become state capital on November 4, 1890.
  9. ^ Ruth Kirk, Carmela Alexander. Exploring Washington's Past: A Road Guide to History. University of Washington Press, 1995. p.124
  10. ^ Kirk (1995:123)
  11. ^ a b Visit Ellensburg
  12. ^ Ellensburg Downtown Association
  13. ^ Kittitas County Farmer's Market
  14. ^ Winterhop Brewfest
  15. ^ Dachshunds on Parade
  16. ^ Jazz In The Valley
  17. ^ Kittitas County Fair History
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "Climatography of the United States NO.81".  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ Election 2008, Presidential Election: Winners By County [2], Washington Post.
  22. ^ "Ellensburg School District". 

Further reading

  • Kirk, Ruth, and Carmela Alexander, (1990, revised edition 1995), Exploring Washington's Past, University of Washington Press, Seattle. ISBN 0-295-97443-5
  • Caveness, Andrew. "Images of America: Ellensburg," Arcadia Press, San Francisco, 2009. ISBN 0-7385-7154-7

External links

  • Ellensburg official website
  • Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellensburg Downtown Association
  • Ellensburg Public Library's Historic Local Photograph Collection hosted by the CWU Brooks Library
  • Ellensburg, Washington at DMOZ