Bremerton is a city in Kitsap County, Washington, United States. The population was 37,259 at the 2000 census. Bremerton is home to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap. Bremerton is connected to downtown Seattle by a 60-minute ferry ride, which carries both vehicles and walk-on passengers.
Bremerton is located at (47.570017, -122.652625). It is located on the Kitsap Peninsula
and is bounded on the southeast and east by Sinclair Inlet
and the strait of Port Orchard
respectively. The city is divided by the Port Washington Narrows
, a strait spanned by two bridges that connects Dyes Inlet
, which lies northwest of the city, to Port Orchard. The part of the city northeast of the narrows is referred to as East Bremerton.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.0 square miles (67.5 km²), of which, 22.7 square miles (58.7 km²) of it is land and 3.4 square miles (8.8 km²) of it (12.98%) is water.
Bremerton is divided among three state legislative districts in Kitsap County. The 23rd legislative district
to the north, 35th legislative district
in the center and 26th legislative district
to the south. Also, the line separating the first and sixth Congressional districts runs through East Bremerton. Elected in 1976, sixth district Rep. Norm Dicks
regularly defends the area's significant economic ties to the military, sitting on the House Appropriations Committee
and the Select Committee on Homeland Security
Mayor Cary Bozeman, first elected in 2001, ran unopposed in the 2005 general election. He was previously the three-term mayor of Bellevue, Washington, and is generally credited with spurring economic growth in both cities. Incorporated as a first-class city, Bremerton has been governed by a nonpartisan strong mayor and nine-member city council since 1985. The current form of government was established by a 1983 charter that eliminated a decades-old city commission composed of a mayor, public works commissioner and finance commissioner.
Each member of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners represents a portion of the city of Bremerton. This arrangement was an attempt to balance Bremerton's commercial influence with the remainder of the county, though most of its sales tax base has since relocated to unincorporated areas.
Bremerton politics can vary in intensity, with some city council positions regularly unopposed and others having as many as four candidates in the 2005 primary election. Redevelopment projects have been a major source of debate, including the 2007 construction of a federally funded tunnel that would route ferry traffic under the downtown core. As with most cities in the region, Bremerton precincts have historically been more favorable for Democratic candidates in state and federal elections, contrasting with more conservative-leaning voters in rural areas of the county.
Bremerton was platted by German immigrant-turned-Seattle entrepreneur William Bremer in 1891. Three years earlier, a U.S. Navy
commission determined that Point Turner, between the protected waters of Sinclair and Dyes inlets, would be the best site in the Pacific Northwest on which to establish a shipyard. Recognizing the large number of workers such a facility would employ, Bremer and his business partner, Henry Hensel, purchased the then-undeveloped land near Point Turner at the inflated price of $200 per acre. In April 1891, Bremer sold to the Navy at $50 per acre. This land became part of the initial footprint of the Puget Sound Navy Yard
Bremerton was officially incorporated on October 15
with Alvyn Croxton serving as the city's first mayor. Progress in the new city soon faced a major crisis, as Navy Secretary Charles Darling moved all repair work to the Mare Island Navy Yard
in California in November 1902. Darling cited reports from commanders that the Bremerton waterfront was rife with prostitution, opium houses and frequent strongarmed robberies of sailors. Politics were probably also at play, as local newspapers reported that the city's incorporation left the shipyard essentially landlocked without room to expand. A dispute ensued between Mayor Croxton, who wanted to shutter all saloons in Bremerton, and three members of the city council, who attempted to block his efforts. Croxton eventually won out and the council voted to revoke all liquor licenses in June 1904. With the ban, Darling reestablished the navy yard as a port of call. Saloons had begun to return to business within two years, however.
In 1908, the city library and Union High School were established to serve the educational needs of the 2,993 residents recorded in the 1910 U.S. Census. During World War I, submarine construction and the addition of a third drydock caused the shipyard's workforce to balloon to over 4,000 employees. Growth due to the war effort and the 1918 annexation of the city of Manette, east of Bremerton on the Port Washington Narrows, can be seen in the 1920 census, which reported a population of 8,918. Bremerton absorbed Charleston, its neighboring city to the south in 1927. Population reached 10,170 in 1930.
Manette was linked to Bremerton by the Manette Bridge
, a bridge constructed in June 1930. Prior to this time, the trip could only be made by ferry or a long trip around Dyes Inlet through Chico, Silverdale
on mostly unimproved roads. This wooden bridge was replaced with the present concrete and steel version in October 1949. At the shipyard, the tall Hammerhead Crane No. 28 was completed in April 1933. One of the nation's largest, it is capable of lifting 250 tons and continues to dominate the Bremerton skyline.
At the peak of World War II, the Bremerton area was home to an estimated 80,000 residents due to the heavy workload of shipbuilding, repair and maintenance required for the Pacific war effort. Most of the relocation was temporary, though, and only 27,678 citizens were left in the city by 1950. During the 1940s, presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman both visited Bremerton. Roosevelt made a campaign stop at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in August 1944, giving a national radio address in front of a backdrop of civilian workers. During the course of his 35-minute speech, it is believed the president suffered an angina attack, experiencing severe chest and shoulder pain. An electrocardiogram was immediately administered once he left the podium but it showed nothing abnormal. President Truman took a two-day tour of Washington state in 1948, speaking from the balcony of the Elks Club on the morning of June 10. Local legend has it that a man in the large Pacific Avenue crowd yelled the infamous "Give 'em hell, Harry" line for the first time. This is a matter of dispute, however, as local newspapers quoted the man as having shouted "Lay it on, Harry."
With the return of World War II GIs to the homefront, the need for post-secondary education became evident to officials of the Bremerton School District. Olympic Junior College (now Olympic College), a two-year institution, opened its doors to 575 students in the Fall of 1946. Initially, it operated in the former Lincoln School building, gradually moving operations to World War II-surplus quonset buildings at its current 16th & Chester site. About 100 students received associate's degrees at the first commencement exercises held June 10, 1948. President Truman was in attendance and received the college's first honorary degree. Operation of the college transferred from the school district to the State of Washington in 1967.
On the whole, the 1950s and 1960s were a period of stability for the city. A second high school opened in 1954 and two comprehensive high schools operated in the city until 1978. Growth in East Bremerton necessitated the construction of another span across the Port Washington Narrows in 1958. The $5.3 million, four-lane Warren Avenue Bridge allowed for increased traffic on State Highway 21-B (now State Route 303).
The battleship USS Missouri, site of the Japanese surrender treaty signing that ended World War II, was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet at PSNS in 1955. For 30 years, she served as the city's primary tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of visitors walked the "surrender deck," before the ship was recommissioned in 1985.
Population growth was flat with 26,681 enumerated in the 1960 census, leading Bremerton leaders to annex the shipyard the following year in an effort to include stationed sailors in those figures. While the Vietnam War spawned protests and sit-ins on the Olympic College campus, the city was relatively free of civil disorder during the 1960s.
With the 1973 selection of the Bangor Ammunition Depot
northwest of Bremerton as the Pacific home of the new Trident
submarine fleet, residential and commercial development began to move closer to Silverdale
and farther from the Bremerton downtown core. Numerous failed proposals were made at redevelopment beginning in the early 1970s, including discussions of a waterfront hotel and the erection of a large canopy over the central business district. Meanwhile, most of the city's office and retail space remained in the hands of Edward Bremer, son of William Bremer and the sole remaining heir to his wealth. (In order to receive their inheritance, William Bremer's three children were honor-bound to never marry.) Bremer began to neglect his properties, never increasing decades-old lease rates and failing to make necessary maintenance upgrades. In 1978, the Bremerton City Council passed an ordinance declaring the entire downtown a "blighted area."
In 1985, Safeco
-subsidiary Winmar Corporation developed the Kitsap Mall
in Silverdale. With lower taxes and minimal planning regulations in the unincorporated town, Silverdale achieved virtually unfettered growth. Sears
, J.C. Penney
, Montgomery Ward
Place Two, Woolworth
and Rite Aid
all closed their downtown Bremerton stores in the 1980s and '90s. Upon the death of Edward Bremer in 1987, the Bremer properties were placed under the complete control of a trust held by Olympic College. Not being in the real-estate business, the college did not actively market its holdings and the downtown was composed almost entirely of very large empty storefronts.
In recent years Bremerton has seen its share of community setbacks. Like many other West Coast cities, Bremerton was also not immune to the influx of street gangs, methamphetamine and violent crime, including a 1993 incident in which a crowd of nearly 40 gang members surrounded a Bremerton police officer's patrol car. A police dog was shot and killed after only three months on the city's force in 2001 -- his replacement was forcibly drowned by a fleeing suspect in 2004. Bremerton school teachers were pitted against their district's administration for nearly a month in September 1994 during a contentious strike. Four elderly residents were killed in an enormous three-alarm fire that destroyed the 165-unit Kona Village apartment complex in November 1997. Damages were estimated at $7.5 million. A replacement senior apartment building has since been built.
Despite a hard-fought battle throughout the Mid-1990s by local politicians to have the decommissioned USS Missouri stay in Bremerton as a museum ship and tourist attraction, the Secretary of the Navy awarded the ship to Honolulu, HI in 1998. It now sits near the USS Arizona memorial.
Beginning with the construction of a waterfront boardwalk in 1992, Bremerton has begun the process of revitalizing its downtown community. That same year, the Bremerton Historic Ships Association opened the destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951) to public tours at an adjacent dock; the ship had played a major role in the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident that sparked full U.S. engagement in the Vietnam War. This was followed in 2000 by the opening of a nearby multimodal bus-ferry terminal and a hotel-conference center complex in 2004. The high-rise Norm Dicks Government Center also opened that year, housing City Hall and other government offices.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 37,259 people, 15,096 households, and 8,468 families residing in the city. The population density
was 1,644.2 people per square mile (634.9/km²). There were 16,631 housing units at an average density of 733.9/sq mi (283.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.97% White
, 7.50% African American
, 1.95% Native American
, 5.53% Asian
, 0.93% Pacific Islander
, 2.57% from other races
, and 6.56% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 6.59% of the population.
There were 15,096 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 103.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,950, and the median income for a family was $36,358. Males had a median income of $28,320 versus $23,523 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,724. About 16.0% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.
Based on per capita income, one of the more reliable measures of affluence, Bremerton ranks 341st of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked. Because of the military base Bremerton's demographics are extremely diverse.
- Nathan Adrian, 2008 Olympic Gold medalist swimmer
- Buddy Allin, former American professional golfer who won five PGA Tour events in the 1970s.
- Jill Banner, American film actress, possibly best recalled for her role as Virginia, the "spider baby" in the 1964 cult horror-comedy film Spider Baby.
- George Bayer, former American professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour.
- Willie Bloomquist, utility player for the Seattle Mariners, was born in Bremerton and grew up in nearby Port Orchard.
- Frank Chopp, Washington State Speaker of the House, grew up in Bremerton.
- Adelaide Hawley Cumming, vaudeville performer, radio host, and living trademark for General Mills.
- Avram Davidson, author and literary critic, spent the end of his life in Bremerton, dying there on May 8 1993.
- Norm Dicks, Fifteen-term U.S. Congressman, was born and raised in Bremerton as the son of a Puget Sound Naval Shipyard worker. Dicks serves as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and also sits on the Select Committee on Homeland Security.
- Howard Duff, the actor best known as the radio voice of Sam Spade and later as Det. Sgt. Sam Stone in the late-'60s NBC television series Felony Squad, was born in Charleston, Washington, now part of Bremerton.
- Mike Enzi, United States Senator from Wyoming, was born in Bremerton.
- Brent David Fraser, American actor.
- Bill Gates Sr, father of the Microsoft billionaire, was born in Bremerton and began his law career with the local firm of Merrill Wallace. The elder Gates' father operated a furniture store and ice cream parlor in downtown Bremerton.
- Sgt Derrick Leo Neshem, Sgt Jonathan Michael Fairall & Cpl Thomas Vincent Ralston Best Known for serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, West Camp Habbaniyah. Wolverines!
- Geologic, the lead rapper for the Blue Scholars who has also performed as a spoken word poet, is from Bremerton. The Blue Scholars have opened for and shared stages with such artists as De La Soul, Slick Rick, Kanye West, Immortal Technique, Masta Ace, Mos Def and Little Brother.
- Elizabeth George, resides in Bremerton.
- Ben Gibbard, best known for his work in The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, and All-Time Quarterback.
- Margaret Grubb, first wife of pulp fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
- Mike Herrera, bass guitarist vocalist for the band MxPx, was born and still resides in Bremerton.
- Steven Holl, architect, was born in Bremerton.
- L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology founder, attended Union High School and wrote his early works while living in Bremerton during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
- Rondin Johnson, former MLB second baseman for the Kansas City Royals.
- Quincy Jones, jazz legend, moved to Bremerton at age 10. As a teenager, he first met up with Ray Charles after traveling to clubs in Seattle.*
- Dana Kirk and Tara Kirk attended Bremerton High School and received scholarships in swimming to attend Stanford University. They have competed multiple times in collegiate and non-collegiate swimming, including the 2004 Olympic games - the first sisters to be members of a U.S. Olympic Swim team.
- Buddy Knox, singer and songwriter best known for his 1957 rockabilly hit song, "Party Doll".
- Jock Mahoney, American actor and stuntman, died in Bremerton.
- Richard Miles McCool, retired United States Navy officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.
- Pat O'Day (nee Paul Berg), long-time KJR radio disk jockey and general manager, is a 1953 graduate of Bremerton High School. He began his concert-promotion empire by holding teen dances at Bremerton's Sheridan Park Recreation Center and the Spanish Castle in Seattle. He would later go on to promote such noted acts as Merilee Rush, Heart, The Wailers and Jimi Hendrix.
- Benji Olson, former offensive guard for the Tennessee Titans, was born in Bremerton and attended nearby South Kitsap High School.
- Joe Pichler, American actor in films such as Varsity Blues and The Fan.
- Yuri Ruley, drummer for the band MxPx, resides in Bremerton.
- Alex Smith, current quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was born in Bremerton.
- John Stroeder, former American professional basketball player.
- Champ Summers, former professional baseball player.
- Matt Tucker, American filmmaker, primarily an actor and screenwriter, as well as a director and producer.
- Marvin Williams, a graduate of Bremerton High School, signed to the NBA team Atlanta Hawks in 2005. As a senior at Bremerton High School, Williams averaged 28.7 points, 15.5 rebounds, five blocks and five assists and earned McDonald’s and Parade All-America honors. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and helped lead them to the 2005 NCAA Championship.
- Marc Wilson, former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders and the New England Patriots.
- Tom Wisniewski, guitarist for the band MxPx, resides in Bremerton.
- Heather Young, best known for playing the character Betty Hamilton on the television series Land of the Giants.
Bremerton has the following sister cities
, according to