King City (variant: Kings City) is a city in Monterey County, California, United States. King City is located on the Salinas River 51 miles (82 km) southeast of Salinas, at an elevation of 335 feet (102 m). It lies along U.S. Route 101 in the Salinas Valley of the Central Coast. King City is a member of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. The population was 12,874 at the 2010 census. It is a small town which has experienced slow economic growth over the past 50 years.
The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolá expedition, camped on the Salinas River just south of today’s King City on September 26, 1769, having followed the route of today’s Jolon Road from the south.
King City was originally known as King’s City for its founder, Charles King. In 1884 Charles King acquired 13,000 acres (53 km2) of the Mexican land grant Rancho San Lorenzo, and began growing 6,000 acres (24 km2) of wheat. The town began as a train stop in 1886 for the Southern Pacific Railroad to service the farms and ranches in the south Salinas Valley and to transport the goods to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was originally called “Hog Town” since swine were one of the major agricultural products of the area in the 1880s. The King City post office first opened in 1887. King City incorporated under the name “City of King” in 1911
J. Ernst Steinbeck, father of the novelist John Steinbeck, claimed to have been the first permanent resident of King City. Steinbeck was certainly among the first settlers. He was the first agent for the S.P. Milling Company, which built an early warehouse and flour mill alongside the railroad tracks running through town. The mill was built by R. M. Shackelford, an early California settler and businessman who owned sheep pasturage next to that of Charles King.
King City has a semi-arid climate (Bsk), although bordering on a Mediterranean climate (Csb), with very warm, mostly dry summers and cool, wet winters. The average January temperatures are a maximum of 64.1 °F (17.8 °C) and a minimum of 34.9 °F (1.6 °C). The average July temperatures are a maximum of 86.9 °F (30.5 °C) and a minimum of 51.0 °F (10.6 °C). There are an average of 50.6 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 49.7 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature was 120 °F (49 °C) on June 24, 1925. The record low temperature was 10 °F (−12 °C) on January 6, 1904.
Average annual precipitation is 11.24 inches (285 mm). There are an average of 40 days with measurable precipitation. The driest year was 1953 with 3.14 inches (80 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 10.50 inches (267 mm) in February 1998. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 3.72 inches (94 mm) on January 18, 1914. Although snow often falls in the winter in the Santa Lucia mountains west of the city, it is quite rare in the Salinas Valley; however, 5.3 inches (130 mm) fell in January 1957 and 3.0 inches (76 mm) fell in December 1954. The low humidity in the area contributes to freezing temperatures at night, and intense temperatures during daylight.
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