1930 to 1940

Population: 4,062
Area: 3.4 square miles

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a difficult time. People made do with what they had, or did without. “Hobo camps” for homeless and unemployed men sprang up along the rail lines and at the edge of town.

The federal government repealed Prohibition in 1933, making alcohol sales and saloon operation once again legal. Many of Renton’s famous saloons reopened. Just about that same time, work on Longacres Thoroughbred Horse Racing Track was started; it opened just 28 days later.

In 1935 nationally renowned humorist Will Rogers and his pilot Wiley Post landed at the seaplane port at the Bryn Mawr strip, their last stop before both perished in a plane crash in Alaska. The Will Rogers – Wiley Post Memorial Seaplane Base at the Renton Airport was named for the two famous Renton visitors.

Renton slowly climbed out of the Depression. Movie theatre mogul Benjamin Fey erected Renton’s first neon sign on the new Roxy Theatre. The new Triple XXX Barrel drive-in, the first of its kind on the West Coast, opened on the outskirts of town. Renton High School was remodeled with federal funds to accommodate a larger student body and a junior high school.

As the decade closed things were looking better. Money wasn’t as tight and the Renton Lions Club produced its first rodeo, promoting Renton as a western frontier town while turning Liberty Park into a bronco-busting corral for a few days.

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