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Des Moines, Washington
Official seal of Des Moines, Washington
"The Waterland City"
Location of Des Moines, Washington
Location of Des Moines, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County King
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 7.41 sq mi (19.19 km2)
 • Land 6.41 sq mi (16.61 km2)
 • Water 1.00 sq mi (2.58 km2)
92 ft (28 m)
 • Total 29,673
 • Estimate 
 • Density 5,044.92/sq mi (1,947.98/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
98148, 98198
Area code(s) 206
FIPS code 53-17635
GNIS feature ID 1512145

Des Moines ( -moynz) is a city in King County, Washington, United States. The population was 29,673 as of the 2010 census.

Des Moines is located on the east shore of Puget Sound, near the center of the Seattle metropolitan area. The city is bordered by the suburbs of Federal Way to the south, Kent to the east, SeaTac to the northeast, Burien to the north, and Normandy Park to the northwest. It is one of the few points along this shoreline where the topography facilitates access to the water, and a recreational marina operated by the city, with moorage, boat launching and pier fishing facilities, is located there. Forested Saltwater State Park on a steep ravine between the Zenith and Woodmont neighborhoods is the most-used state park on the Sound. Near the border of Federal Way, Redondo has a board-walk complete with a Salty's restaurant and a pay parking lot.

Property within the city has been the subject of land buyouts because of noise from aircraft landing or taking off from the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, which is located 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Des Moines.


There is no evidence that Indian tribes had permanent settlements in Des Moines. However, there is ample evidence that the Duwamish and Muckleshoot Indian tribes came to Des Moines for fishing and clamming.

What was to become Des Moines was first explored by Europeans on May 26, 1792, during the exploration of British naval Captain George Vancouver on his flagship HMS Discovery. The first Americans to visit the area were part of Charles Wilkes' Expedition.

The first known settler was John Moore, who probably arrived about 1867. His homestead claim certificate (#285) was granted on July 2, 1872.

In 1887 F.A. Blasher persuaded some friends in his home city of Des Moines, Iowa, to help finance the development of a town on Puget Sound. The work was done by the Des Moines Improvement Company. In 1889 the area was platted into lots and sold by the Des Moines Improvement Company, which had been incorporated by F. A. Blasher, Orin Watts Barlow, Charles M. Johnson, and John W. Kleeb. Lumber mills provided the community with its primary employment.

Early transportation to Des Moines was by water. The Mosquito Fleet provided access to Seattle, Tacoma, and Vashon Island. The first road, the Brick Highway, was completed in May 1916. The first cross-Puget Sound automobile ferry started service from Des Moines to Portage on November 13, 1916. This ferry service continued until September 1921. Before World War II farming fueled the local economy.

Following the war, suburbanization of the community occurred. With increased population, the county government was unable to supply the level of service and local control desired by Des Moines residents. In response to this, Des Moines was officially incorporated on June 17, 1959.

The city's most visible asset is its 838-berth small boat marina that was opened on May 10, 1970. In 1980, a 670-foot (200 m) concrete and aluminum fishing pier was built at the north end of the marina.

Des Moines, Washington Panoramic
A view of Puget Sound and the Normandy Park cove from the fishing pier


Des Moines is located at 47°23′39″N 122°19′5″W / 47.39417°N 122.31806°W / 47.39417; -122.31806 (47.394120, -122.317983).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.50 square miles (16.83 km2), all of it land.

Most of the city rolls gently down to the waters of Puget Sound from an elevation of about 400 feet (120 m) along the eastern city boundary on Pacific Highway, allowing many homes to enjoy an unobstructed view of the sound and Vashon Island. The ravines of Des Moines Creek and Massey Creek deeply incise this broad slope.

Surrounding cities


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 212
1960 1,987
1970 3,951 98.8%
1980 7,378 86.7%
1990 17,283 134.3%
2000 29,267 69.3%
2010 29,673 1.4%
2019 (est.) 32,348 9.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Des Moines (WA) Field House 01
The Des Moines Field House / Activity Center, a legacy of the WPA, is listed as a King County landmark.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,673 people, 11,664 households, and 7,249 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,565.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,762.6/km2). There were 12,588 housing units at an average density of 1,936.6 per square mile (747.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 63.5% White, 9.1% African American, 1.1% Native American, 10.7% Asian, 2.4% Pacific Islander, 7.8% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.2% of the population.

There were 11,664 households, of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.9% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.10.

The median age in the city was 39.4 years. 22.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.4% were from 45 to 64; and 14.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.7% male and 51.3% female.

Parks and recreation

Saltwater State Park is in Des Moines.

City landmarks

The City of Des Moines has designated the following landmark:

Landmark Built Listed Address Photo
Des Moines Beach Park (the former Covenant Beach Bible Camp) 1917–1931 2005 Cliff Ave. and 220th St.
47°24′26″N 122°19′43″W / 47.40722°N 122.32861°W / 47.40722; -122.32861 (Des Moines Beach Park)
Des Moines Beach Park 02.jpg


Primary and secondary schools

Mount Rainier High School
Mount Rainier High School

Most of Des Moines is within the Highline Public Schools district; the neighborhoods of Woodmont and Redondo are within the Federal Way School District.

Elementary schools within Des Moines include Des Moines Elementary School, Midway Elementary School, North Hill Elementary School, Olympic Hill Elementary School, Parkside Elementary School, and Woodmont Elementary School (Woodmont is a part of the Federal Way School District).

Pacific Middle School and Mount Rainier High School are the secondary schools of Des Moines.

Des Moines students, pre-K through 8th grade, are also served by St. Philomena Catholic School and Holy Trinity Lutheran School.


Highline College is in Des Moines.

CWU-Des Moines, a branch of Central Washington University, is co-located on the Highline College campus and offers several bachelor and graduate degrees.

Notable residents

  • Gregory Carroll, operatic tenor
  • Darwin Jones, professional soccer player
  • Peter H. Gregory, information security advisor and writer.
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