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Fife, Washington
Location of Fife, Washington
Location of Fife, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Pierce
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 5.89 sq mi (15.25 km2)
 • Land 5.76 sq mi (14.91 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.34 km2)
23 ft (7 m)
 • Total 10,999
 • Density 1,867.4/sq mi (721.25/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 253
FIPS code 53-23795
GNIS feature ID 1512206

Fife is a city in Pierce County, Washington, United States and a suburb of Tacoma. The population was 10,999 at the 2020 census, up from 9,018 in 2010. Fife is contained within the Puyallup Indian Reservation.


In 1940, it was described as " a valley crossroads in the midst of a thickly settled berry growing and truck-gardening district is represented by a string of markets, taverns, shops, and a large, balloon-roofed dance hall along the highway." The 1940 population was 135. Fife was officially incorporated on February 11, 1957.

Due to the increased traffic volume traveling from Puyallup and Tacoma, Fife felt the need to establish itself as autonomous community, not just as an intermediate area between Interstate 5 (I-5) and State Route 167.

Fife may have been named for William J. Fife, a prominent Tacoma lawyer, Yukon prospector, once head of the Washington National Guard, and a lieutenant colonel in the field during the Philippine Insurrection.


Fife is located at 47°14′4″N 122°21′35″W / 47.23444°N 122.35972°W / 47.23444; -122.35972 (47.234439, -122.359690). It is entirely within the Puyallup Indian Reservation created prior to statehood by the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854, but title is held almost entirely by non-Native Americans.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.83 square miles (15.10 km2), of which, 5.69 square miles (14.74 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water.

Fife is also a tideflat community, residing in the low, flat area extending from the Port of Tacoma. This means the water table occurs only 10–15 feet below ground in some parts. Consequently, during the day as the tide rises and falls in the Puget Sound, so do parts of land slightly rise and fall.

The southern portions of the city are in the floodplain of the Puyallup River. Much of the city would be damaged or destroyed in the event of a lahar due to an eruption of Mount Rainier.

Surrounding cities


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 1,463
1970 1,458 −0.3%
1980 1,823 25.0%
1990 3,864 112.0%
2000 4,784 23.8%
2010 9,173 91.7%
2020 10,999 19.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 9,173 people, 3,642 households, and 2,192 families living in the city. The population density was 1,612.1 inhabitants per square mile (622.4/km2). There were 3,895 housing units at an average density of 684.5 per square mile (264.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 55.2% White, 8.2% African American, 3.0% Native American, 15.5% Asian, 2.7% Pacific Islander, 7.6% other races, and 7.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.4%.

Of the 3,642 households 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.8% were non-families. 29.7% of households were one person and 4.2% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.12.

The median age was 30.9 years. 25.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 36.9% were from 25 to 44; 20.4% were from 45 to 64; and 6.5% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.4% male and 49.6% female.


Fife, an eastern suburb of Tacoma, consists primarily of businesses such as car dealerships, warehousing and industrial facilities, motels, drive through smokeshops, quick-dining restaurants as well as an Indian casino and various other highway-side businesses. Its proximity to the Port of Tacoma, Interstate 5, and Highway 167 has contributed to the large number of freight forwarding companies. Fife's tax base is made up of sales tax, utility tax, and property tax. Fife Heights, located on a hill beyond the incorporated bounds of the city, is a primarily residential area. Milton is located immediately to the east and Edgewood to the southeast.


Pierce County Library - Fife 01
Fife branch of the Pierce County Library system

The Fife Public Schools serve both the cities of Fife and Milton, as well as pockets of Edgewood, and Federal Way. Fife has one high school, Fife High School.

Notable people

Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Civil Rights Activists:
Myrlie Evers-Williams
Aaron Henry
T. R. M. Howard
Jesse Jackson
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