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King City (variant: Kings City)[9] is a city in Monterey County, California, United States. King City is located on the Salinas River 51 miles (82 km) southeast of Salinas,[9] at an elevation of 335 feet (102 m).[6] It lies along U.S. Route 101 in the Salinas Valley of the Central Coast. King City is a member of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. The population was 12,874 at the 2010 census. It is a small town which has experienced slow economic growth over the past 50 years.

City of King City
The Robert Stanton Theater at King City High School (1939)
Location of King City in Monterey County, California.
Location of King City in Monterey County, California.
City of King City is located in the United States
City of King City
City of King City
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°12′46″N 121°07′34″W / 36.21278°N 121.12611°W / 36.21278; -121.12611Coordinates: 36°12′46″N 121°07′34″W / 36.21278°N 121.12611°W / 36.21278; -121.12611
CountryUnited States
Railway stop1886
IncorporatedFebruary 9, 1911[1]
 • MayorMike LeBarre[2]
 • State senatorAnna Caballero (D)[3]
 • AssemblymemberRobert Rivas (D)[3]
 • U. S. rep.Jimmy Panetta (D)[4]
 • Total3.98 sq mi (10.32 km2)
 • Land3.85 sq mi (9.96 km2)
 • Water0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)  3.49%
Elevation335 ft (102 m)
 • Total12,874
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,607.02/sq mi (1,392.81/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code831
FIPS code06-38520
GNIS feature IDs1652734, 2411544



The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolá expedition, camped on the Salinas River just south of today's King City on September 26, 1769, having followed the route of today's Jolon Road from the south.[10]

King City was originally known as King's City for its founder, Charles King. In 1884 Charles King acquired 13,000 acres (53 km2) of the Mexican land grant Rancho San Lorenzo, and began growing 6,000 acres (24 km2) of wheat. The town began as a train stop in 1886 for the Southern Pacific Railroad to service the farms and ranches in the south Salinas Valley and to transport the goods to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was originally called "Hog Town" since swine were one of the major agricultural products of the area in the 1880s.[11] The King City post office first opened in 1887.[9] King City incorporated under the name "City of King" in 1911.[9]

J. Ernst Steinbeck, father of the novelist John Steinbeck, claimed to have been the first permanent resident of King City. Steinbeck was certainly among the first settlers. He was the first agent for the S.P. Milling Company, which built an early warehouse and flour mill alongside the railroad tracks running through town. The mill was built by R. M. Shackelford, an early California settler and businessman who owned sheep pasturage next to that of Charles King.[12]


King City elevation is 330 feet (100 m) above sea level, between Greenfield to the northwest and San Lucas to the southeast, both also on U.S. Route 101. The amount of land area in King City is 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2). The Salinas River flows on the west side of the city; due to its sandy bed, portions of the river sometimes flow underground, especially during the summer months.[13]


King City has a semi-arid climate (Bsk), although bordering on a Mediterranean climate (Csb), with very warm, mostly dry summers and cool, wet winters. The average January temperatures are a maximum of 64.1 °F (17.8 °C) and a minimum of 34.9 °F (1.6 °C). The average July temperatures are a maximum of 86.9 °F (30.5 °C) and a minimum of 51.0 °F (10.6 °C). There are an average of 50.6 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 49.7 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature was 120 °F (49 °C) on June 24, 1925. The record low temperature was 10 °F (−12 °C) on January 6, 1904.

Average annual precipitation is 11.24 inches (285 mm). There are an average of 40 days with measurable precipitation. The driest year was 1953 with 3.14 inches (80 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 10.50 inches (267 mm) in February 1998. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 3.72 inches (94 mm) on January 18, 1914. Although snow often falls in the winter in the Santa Lucia mountains west of the city, it is quite rare in the Salinas Valley; however, 5.3 inches (130 mm) fell in January 1957 and 3.0 inches (76 mm) fell in December 1954.[14] The low humidity in the area contributes to freezing temperatures at night, and intense temperatures during daylight.


In 2018, King City was denied a $21 million TIRCP grant to build a multimodal transportation center which would provide connections to Amtrak, in between Paso Robles and Salinas. City officials have said they will apply again in the future.[16] A small $1.5 million grant was approved by the state government the following year, providing funds to design the Amtrak platform.[17]


Census Pop.
Est. 201613,869[8]7.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
King City Bible Church


The 2010 United States Census[19] reported that King City had a population of 12,874. The population density was 3,231.8 people per square mile (1,247.8/km²). The racial makeup of King City was 6,173 (47.9%) White, 150 (1.2%) African American, 347 (2.7%) Native American, 172 (1.3%) Asian, 8 (0.1%), Pacific Islander, 5,451 (42.3%) from other races, and 573 (4.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,266 persons (87.5%).

The Census reported that 12,815 people (99.5% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 59 (0.5%) were institutionalized.

There were 3,008 households, out of which 1,852 (61.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,823 (60.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 386 (12.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 272 (9.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 188 (6.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 21 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 412 households (13.7%) were made up of individuals and 186 (6.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.26. There were 2,481 families (82.5% of all households); the average family size was 4.47.

The population was spread out with 4,374 people (34.0%) under the age of 18, 1,819 people (14.1%) aged 18 to 24, 3,937 people (30.6%) aged 25 to 44, 1,984 people (15.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 760 people (5.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 115.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 119.3 males.

There were 3,218 housing units at an average density of 807.8 per square mile (311.9/km²), of which 1,394 (46.3%) were owner-occupied, and 1,614 (53.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.4%. 5,586 people (43.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 7,229 people (56.2%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[20] of 2000, there were 11,094 people, 2,736 households, and 2,251 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,030.0 people per square mile (1,170.3/km²). There were 2,822 housing units at an average density of 770.8 per square mile (297.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 42.09% White, 0.59% Black or African American, 1.05% Native American, 1.23% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 50.46% from other races, and 4.46% from two or more races. 80.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,736 households out of which 54.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.2% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.7% were non-families. 13.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.03 and the average family size was 4.28.

In the city, the population was spread out with 35.7% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 13.3% from 45 to 64, and 6.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females, there were 115.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 119.6 males.

The median annual income for a household in the city was $34,398 and the median annual income for a family was $33,750. Males had a median annual income of $27,377 versus $25,286 for females. The per capita annual income for the city was $11,685. About 16.9% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 17.1% of those age 65 or over.


See also: Media in Monterey County

Radio and televisionEdit

Local radio stations include KEXA-FM – 93.9, KRKC-AM – 1490, 102 KRKC-FM, and KDON-FM 102.5. Television service for the community comes from the Monterey–Salinas–Santa Cruz designated market area (DMA).


Local newspapers include the Gannett-owned Salinas Californian and the town's own weekly, The King City Rustler.

The Rustler was founded in 1901 by Fred Vivian, who reportedly went into a local barber shop, sold subscriptions to all the customers and then passed around a hat for them to suggest names for the newspaper. "The Rustler" was the one he drew out.

Vivian was later succeeded as publisher by his grandson Harry Casey, who was called home to King City in 1952 to take over management of the newspaper by his aunt Ruth Steglich after the death of her husband, then-publisher Bill Steglich. He served as co-publisher until Ruth Steglich's death and publisher until declining health forced him to sell The Rustler and three other regional weeklies to News Media, Inc. in 1995.

Casey, whose sons Rich and Bill still operate Casey Printing in King City, died in 1998. Both he and Vivian are members of the California Newspaper Hall of Fame.

In popular cultureEdit

The town features prominently in the song "Queen of King City", on the Red Meat album We Never Close.

King City is also mentioned repeatedly in John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden. The book is principally set in the surrounding Salinas Valley.

King City is revealed to be the home town of The Man in the Tan Jacket in the novel Welcome to Night Vale, and the town is a major part of the plot.

Film shot in King CityEdit

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "Mayor & City Council". King City. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "California Electoral Districts". UC Regents. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  4. ^ "California's 20th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  6. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: King City, California
  7. ^ "King City (city) QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 911. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  10. ^ Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. pp. 196–198. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Our History" - King City official website
  12. ^ King City - Monterey County Historical Society
  13. ^ The Salinas, Upside-down River by Anne B. Fisher (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1945)
  14. ^ "KING CITY, CALIFORNIA - Climate Summary". Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  15. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Cronk, Ryan (March 7, 2019). "King City train station becoming reality after state approves $1.5M for project". King City Rustler. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  19. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - King City city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  21. ^ Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ Holley, Joe. "George Taylor Morris, 62: Radio Host Played Classic Rock", The Washington Post, August 3, 2009. Accessed August 10, 2009.

External linksEdit