National Tourism Week is May 6-12, 2018. This annual tradition brings together hospitality industry pros from across the country to celebrate all things travel, including the big economic boost travel and tourism brings to great places like Kent.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Travel Then and Now.” And that’s just perfect. We all know there’s a lot that that draws folks to Kent from near and far—dining, retail and more in a thriving downtown hub, top-notch sports and entertainment, award-winning beer and wine, and an array of global eats that represents the city’s rich diversity. Toss in acres of parks, miles of biking and walking trails and proximity to all things Pacific Northwest, and it all adds up to the ideal travel destination.
But Kent wasn’t always the hot spot it is today. Here’s a glimpse of what things looked like back then…and now.
- It was all about the hops. Kent was originally named Titusville after one of the original settlers. (There’s still a “Titusville Station” sign on Gowe Street near First Avenue.) But hops production was the town’s major source of income in the 1880s, so the founding folks changed the name for the County of Kent, a big hops-producing area in England. Aphids brought an end to local hops crop, but the lore lives on. Kent’s own Airways Brewing continues to make a big splash on the craft beer scene, bringing home awards for its delicious (and hoppy) brews.
- Lettuce talk about farming and festivals. In the 1920s and ‘30s, Kent was known as the Lettuce Capital of the World. It was such a big deal they threw an annual parade and festival to celebrate the leafy stuff. The lettuce fields eventually made way for the Boeing Space Center where the Apollo Lunar Rover was built in 1965. Kent’s fertile lettuce history is something to mull over as you enjoy a tasty chop chop salad from Mama Stortini’s. As for the annual lettuce celebration? It’s now called Kent Cornucopia Days and it’s one of the region’s biggest and oldest festivals, and a jam-packed July weekend of family fun.
- Kent Station was a what? Kent Station offers outstanding dining, trendy shops and a multi-screen movie complex. It’s hard to imagine this urban village’s beginnings while sipping cocktails al fresco or browsing for the latest fashions. Originally farmland, the property was later home to a plywood resin manufacturing plant. When the plant was shuttered and demolished, all that was left was a big, contaminated plot in the middle of town. Problem? No way. Kent saw an opportunity to develop a thriving urban center to complement its historic downtown core. We say “cheers” to that!
- The old days may be gone, but there’s so much to discover and experience in Kent right now. Plan to visit, stay and find out for yourself. There are many things to do in (and near) Kent, including a stroll through historic downtown and a visit to the Greater Kent Historical Society Museum. Period displays, preserved black and white photos and helpful docents will provide you an ample dose of Kent’s good old days.