1970 to 1980

Population: 26,686
Area: 16.1 square miles

In 1971 the city’s twenty-year economic boom went bust. Commercial and military airplane orders dropped off significantly as the Vietnam War drew to a close, and Boeing trimmed its workforce by two-thirds. A severe recession gripped Renton, and people fled the city in search of jobs elsewhere. Having lost hundreds of students, the school district laid off teachers. An attempt at a school levy failed—the first time in the history of the city.

Civic-minded leaders launched a new downtown improvement program. It included plantings and new “Christmas Tree” styled streetlights. The lights quickly proved to be too expensive to maintain and so were removed; a few can be seen in private yards today.

In spite of the recession, more than 100 manufacturing firms produced everything from jet planes and railroad cars to coiled springs and plastics. Carco Theatre and Lindbergh High School opened during this period. In 1976, its 75th year as an incorporated city, Renton celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. The nation also celebrated its Bicentennial, celebrating 200 years of history. Both celebrations were marked with parades and special events in Renton. Renton Municipal Pool was also renamed in 1976 in honor of Duwamish Native American leader and Renton High alum, Henry Moses.

By the end of the decade, Renton had elected Barbara Shinpoch, the city’s first female mayor.

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