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Tri-Cities
Nickname(s): Wine Country, Atomic Town
Location of the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area
State Washington
County Benton, Franklin
Settled 1891
Elevation 168 m (550 ft)
Population (2008 estimates)
 - City 169,080
 Metro 242,000
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 99301, 99323, 99336, 99337, 99338, 99352, 99353, 99354
Area code(s) Area code 509
Website [1]

The Tri-Cities is a metropolitan area in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Washington, consisting of Benton and Franklin counties. Three neighboring cities are the principal cities for the metropolitan area: Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. The cities are located at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers in the semi-arid region of Southeastern Washington. A fourth neighboring city, West Richland, is generally included as part of the Tri-City area and region.

As of April 1, 2009, the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division, estimated the population of the bi-county metropolitan area at 242,000. The population of the metropolitan area was 235,841 at the 2008 Census estimates.[1] If the Tri-Cities were a single city, it would be the fourth largest city in the state of Washington, behind Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.

The Tri-Cities Airport located in Pasco provides the region with commercial and private air service. Pasco is the seat of Franklin County, while the other cities are located in Benton County.

Contents

History

Founding

Pasco was the first of the Tri-Cities to be incorporated, in 1891. Kennewick was incorporated in 1904, and Richland followed in 1910. West Richland was founded by dissatisfied residents of Richland, who wished to be home owners rather than renters of government-owned houses, after the arrival of Hanford. Despite attempts by Richland to annex the community, they remained separate and eventually became incorporated in 1955.

Central Richland as seen from the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve.

Early history

Pasco was the largest city in the Tri-Cities, mostly due to its railroad station. It also had the most land for easy irrigation and farming and was still the largest up until the founding of Hanford near Richland.

Farming was the basis of virtually every sector of the economy in the early years. Even today, agriculture is a big part of the Tri-Cities, Pasco in particular.

1940s - 1970s

After the founding of the Hanford Site in 1943, Richland became the largest city of the three overnight. Richland's Columbia High School adopted "Bombers" as its mascot (complete with mushroom cloud logo). In 1970, Kamiakin High School (in the neighboring city of Kennewick) was founded in response to the continued influx of people. The economy continued to grow, but not without some turbulence. Every time the federal government cut funding at Hanford, thousands of talented, credentialed people would suddenly become jobless and quickly leave for other jobs. During this time, other employers slowly made their way into the area, but they too would often be forced to cut jobs in the bad times. During the 1970s, Kennewick overtook Richland as the largest city (population-wise) of the three and has not surrendered the title since. The Columbia Center Mall was built on land newly incorporated into Kennewick, drawing growth to western Kennewick and south Richland.

The Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory at PNNL, a major national laboratory in Richland.

1980s - present

Completion of the Interstate 182 Bridge in 1984 made Pasco much more accessible, fueling the growth of that city.[2] With the end of the Cold War, many in the area feared a shutdown of Hanford, followed by the Tri-Cities quickly becoming a ghost town. These fears were allayed after the United States Department of Energy switched the facility's purpose from the creation of nuclear weapons to the effective sealing and disposal of radioactive waste. During the 1990s, several major corporations entered the Tri-Cities, which helped to begin diversifying the economy apart from the Hanford sector. In 1995, a sixth public high school, Southridge High, was founded in south Kennewick. The 2000s saw continued rapid growth as the Hanford site hired hundreds of workers to help with the cleanup effort. Additionally, the Tri-Cities saw a large influx of retirees from various areas of the Northwest. During this time, and the corresponding nationwide housing boom, all three cities flourished and grew significantly. Pasco became the fastest growing city in Washington State (in terms of both percent increase and number of new residents). In 2005, the Census Bureau reported that Pasco's population had surpassed Richland's for the first time since pre-Hanford days.

Climate and geography

The view of Rattlesnake Mountain, a windswept treeless sub-alpine ridge 1,060 meters high, from the Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

The Tri-Cities are in a semi-arid climate,[3] receiving an average of 7 to 8 inches (180 to 200 mm) of precipitation every year. Winds periodically exceed 30 mph (48 km/h) when Chinook wind conditions exist. There are 300 days of sunshine every year. Temperatures range from as low as 10 °F (−12 °C) in the winter to as high as 110 °F (43 °C) in the summer, and even reached 115 °F (46 °C) in July 2006. The region receives occasional snow most years. Due to the semi-arid climate and subsequent large amounts of sand, a perpetual annoyance to residents is the amount of dust blown about by the frequent winds. (The Richland High School student newspaper is called the Sandstorm.) Thanks to the aforementioned rivers, a large amount of cheap irrigation is available.

Washington is the most northwest of the lower 48 states—consequently, the area is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. The Tri-Cities makes up the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern quadrant of Washington. The large Cascade Mountain Range to the west contributes to the semi-arid climate, which is far drier than the famously wet western side of the state. See rain shadow for more information on this phenomenon. The region's climate results in a shrub-steppe ecosystem[4] which has 18 endemic plant species.[3] Just west of Richland, the Fitzner/Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve was established to study the unique plants and animals found in the local shrub steppe ecosystem. It is the largest tract of shrub-steppe ecosystem remaining in the U.S. state of Washington.[5]

Education

Colleges and universities

Current higher education opportunities in the Tri-Cities include:

In 2005, the State of Washington approved the transition of the existing Washington State University branch campus in Richland from a two-year to a four-year campus. In the fall of 2007 the campus admitted its first undergraduate students. Offering a wide range of programs, the campus focuses heavily on biotechnology, computer science, and engineering, due to the nearby Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Hanford site. The university is starting to develop a significant amount of quality teachers for the area and a fairly broad range of majors are offered including English, history, and many liberal sciences.

Columbia Basin College also offers higher education opportunities for residents of the Tri-Cities, as well as the Columbia Basin from Mattawa, Washington (50 miles away) to Umatilla, Oregon (30 miles away).

The University of Phoenix also has a satellite campus in Kennewick, serving local online students. http://www.phoenix.edu/campus-locations/wa/eastern-washington-campus/tri-cities-learning-center.html

Primary and Secondary schools

Each city provides its own schooling services through their respective school districts—Kennewick's, Pasco's, and Richland's. There are nine public high schools in the area: Kennewick High School, Kamiakin High School, Southridge High School, and River View High School in Kennewick; Richland High School, River's Edge High School, and Hanford High School in Richland; Pasco High School in Pasco; and Columbia High School in Burbank. A ninth high school, Chiawana High School, opened in Pasco in Fall 2009, due to the recent rapid growth of the city of Pasco.

The area also boasts two regional high schools, Tri-Tech and Delta High. Tri-Tech is a technical/vocational high school in the Kennewick School District that is attended by students from all over the Tri-Cities area. Just a few of the technical programs included in the curriculum are television/video production, automotive, and dental. Delta High is a science and technology focused high school located in Richland. It is sponsored by Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland's school districts, Battelle, Washington State University Tri-Cities, and Columbia Basin College.

There are also several private and religious based schools in the area, most notably, Tri-Cities Prep, Liberty Christian School and Oasis School.

Industry

Agriculture

The Tri-Cities economy has historically been based on farming and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. From Pasco's incorporation in 1891 on, the Tri-Cities have had a large degree of farming thanks to the excellent soil. Irrigation is made easy by the three nearby rivers. Wheat is the most commonly grown product; however, large amounts of apples, corn, and grapes are also grown, along with potatoes and other products including asparagus. Cherries are also grown in the region.

Hanford

Since the 1940s, the Hanford site has employed a majority of residents. The United States government built a top-secret facility to produce and separate plutonium for nuclear weapons, and decided on an area just north of then-tiny Richland. The government built temporary quarters for the more than 45,000 workers and built permanent homes and infrastructure for other personnel in Richland. The city had an overnight population explosion, yet virtually no one knew what the purpose of Hanford was until the destruction of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 by an atomic weapon containing Hanford-produced plutonium. After World War II Hanford continued work on creating material for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, Hanford, the site of the most nuclear contamination in the United States, changed its mission from plutonium production to environmental cleanup and restoration.[6]

Wine

Recent years have seen the region's booming wine industry (second in size only to California's Napa Valley) create jobs as well as tourism, though the Tri-Cities has not yet capitalized on this in the same way that neighboring cities Walla Walla, Prosser, and Yakima have.

Automotive

The Tri-Cities is also home to Shelby SuperCars. Shelby SuperCars manufactures the SSC Aero which holds the title of fastest production car in the world.

Misc

Other major corporations that have facilities in (or are based in) the Tri-Cities include:

The Tri-Cities is also the setting of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

Infrastructure

Health systems

Hospitals

  • Kadlec Regional Medical Center (Richland)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital|Lourdes Medical Center (Downtown Pasco, Richland, West Pasco)
  • Kennewick General Hospital (Downtown Kennewick and West Kennewick)

Libraries

The Mid-Columbia Library System is based in the Tri-Cities and operates several public libraries in the Tri-Cities, including Pasco and Kennewick. The Richland library is not part of the Library System, but is a public library.

  • Kennewick Mid-Columbia Library
  • Richland Public Library
  • Pasco Mid-Columbia Library
  • Consolidated Information Center (North Richland)
  • Downtown Kennwick Mid-Columbia Library
  • Columbia Basin College Library (Pasco)
  • Columbia Basin Regional Medical Library (Richland)
  • Benton-Franklin County Law Library (Pasco)

Transportation

Airports

Interstates and major highways

Local transit

Ben Franklin Transit provides public bus service throughout the Tri-Cities.

Passenger rail

Utilities

Recreation

The Columbia River provides much of the Tri-Cities' recreational opportunities as do the Snake and Yakima rivers. All three cities offer a number of free boat launch sites, and the size of the river itself creates ample space for fishing, surface water sports, and sailing. Wineries, golf, and area parks also provide much recreation for the Tri-Cities area.

Kennewick's Columbia Park is the largest park in the Tri-Cities. It borders several miles of the Columbia River and is run by the Kennewick Parks and Recreation Department. Within the park, there is a popular golf course, duck and fishing ponds, and a playground known as the Playground of Dreams.

Events

The Tri-Cities have many diverse events throughout the year ranging from sports events to car shows to art shows. The area takes advantage of its over 300 annual days of sunshine to have many of these events outside. Many of the area's events are a Mecca for people living across western North America. The largest annual event is the Tri-Cities Waterfollies Columbia Cup the last weekend of July. The Allied Arts Show is put on in Richland the same weekend as the Waterfollies.

Culture and demographics

Culture

The Tri-Cities gets most of its culture from its Cold War past, as well as agriculture and Native American culture. The Hanford Nuclear Site is home to many area landmarks and history, including the world's first full scale nuclear reactor.

Demographics

Kennewick

As of April 1, 2009, the population of Kennewick was estimated at 67,180, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the census of 2000, there were 54,693 people, 20,786 households, and 14,176 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,384.9 people per square mile (920.9/km²). There were 22,043 housing units at an average density of 961.2/sq mi (371.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.93% White, 1.14% Black or African American, 0.93% Native American, 2.12% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 9.4% from other races, and 3.37% from two or more races. 15.55% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 20,786 households out of which 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.6 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.6% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,213, and the median income for a family was $50,011. Males had a median income of $41,589 versus $26,022 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,152. About 9.7% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Pasco

As of April 1, 2009, the population of Pasco was estimated at 54,490, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the census of 2000, there were 32,066 people, 9,619 households, and 7,262 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,141.9 people per square mile (440.9/km²). There were 10,341 housing units at an average density of 368.2/sq mi (142.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.76% White, 3.22% African American, 0.77% Native American, 1.77% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 37.44% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 56.26% of the population.

There were 9,619 households out of which 45.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.30 and the average family size was 3.79.

In the city the population was spread out with 35.5% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,540, and the median income for a family was $37,342. Males had a median income of $29,016 versus $22,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,404. About 19.5% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.

Richland

As of April 1, 2009, the population of Richland was estimated at 47,410, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the census of 2000, there were 38,708 people, 15,549 households, and 10,682 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,111.8 people per square mile (429.2/km²). There were 16,458 housing units at an average density of 472.7/sq mi (182.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.55% White, 1.37% African American, 0.76% Native American, 4.06% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.85% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 4.72% of the population.

There were 15,549 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 96 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $53,092, and the median income for a family was $61,482. Males had a median income of $52,648 versus $30,472 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,494. About 5.7% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.8% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

Based on per capita income, one of the more reliable measures of affluence, Richland ranks 83rd of 522 areas ranked in the state of Washington—the highest rank achieved in Benton County.

Media

Print media

Television

Radio AM

  • 610 - KONA - Newstalk
  • 870 - KFLD - Newstalk
  • 960 - KALE - ESPN Radio
  • 1340 - KTCR - Newstalk

Radio FM

  • 106.5 - KEGX - Eagle - Classic Rock
  • 105.3 - KONA-FM - Mix - Adult Hits
  • 104.3 - KMBI (Spokane) - Moody Broadcasting
  • 102.7 - KORD - Country
  • 101.9 - KUJJ - Smooth Jazz
  • 99.1 - KUJ-FM - Power 99 - Top 40
  • 98.3 - KEYW - The Key - Adult Contemporary
  • 97.9 - KZTB - La Que Buena - Mexican
  • 97.1 - KXRX - 97 Rock - Mainstream Rock
  • 97.5 - KOLW - Kool - Superhits of the 60's and 70's
  • 96.3 - KRCW - La Campesina - Mexican
  • 95.7 - KKSR - Star FM
  • 94.9 - KIOK - The Wolf - Country
  • 93.7 - KGSG - 93.7 - The Rockin' River!
  • 93.3 - KRKL - KLove - Contemporary Christian Radio
  • 92.5 - KZHR - Mi Favorita - Mexican
  • 91.7 - KBLD - CSN Religious
  • 91.3 - KGTS - "Positive Life Radio" - Contemporary Christian
  • 90.1 - KOLU - Christian Family Radio
  • 89.1 - KFAE - Northwest Public Radio - NPR - Classical Music
  • 89.7 - KWWS - Northwest Public Radio - NPR - News and Talk
  • 88.7 - KEFX - "The Effect" - Christian Rock
  • 88.1 - KTCV - The Alternative (Student Run Radio)

Controversies

Consolidation vs. staying "The Tri-Cities"

Over the years, the four cities have had difficulty establishing and projecting an identity that would attract and sustain business, tourism, and growth beyond the Hanford-related business sector. Much of this stems from the fact that the three individual cities each have populations less than 75,000, and do not have much of a presence on their own. Additionally, the cities must compete independently to draw business, tourism, and establish an identity. In an effort to address this concern, there have been repeated efforts to consolidate all four cities into one united incorporated area. The idea driving this movement is that one larger city would create the presence needed to draw increased attention and focus to the region. As noted above, if the Tri-Cities were to consolidate into one city, it would become the fourth largest in the state, behind Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. To date, motions to consolidate have repeatedly failed.

Residents of West Richland and newcomers to the area often suggest that the area rename itself, since there are obviously four cities in the Tri-Cities. This suggestion is usually shunned by residents of the other cities, for the simple reason that "Quad-Cities" doesn't sound as good (as well as the fact that West Richland has a much smaller presence compared to the three major cities). The name "Three Rivers" has recently come to be used more for the area (from the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers), yet is rarely mentioned beyond professional settings.

West Richland is particularly struggling with a regional identity: it had recently considered renaming itself "Red Mountain" in an attempt to distinguish itself from Richland, as well as considering consolidating with the city of Richland. Additionally, the western half of the city of Pasco (locally referred to as West Pasco) has considered secession, in order to distinguish itself from the older, poorer part of town to the East. These considerations provide further complications with respect to consolidation and the "Tri-Cities" name.

Small town vs. big city

One of the current debates in the Tri-City area is whether to try to maintain a small-town-feel or to embrace its growth and become a larger metropolitan area. One of the biggest parts of this debate is to allow the surrounding Horse Heaven Hills to be subdivided into residential areas or to leave them alone. Although many of the mid to older generations would like to maintain the hills' natural beauty, housing is already starting to cover the hills.

Cities in the metro area

The Tri-Cities Metro Area boasts a population of over 242,000 people.

10,000+ people

1,000 - 9,999 people

999- people

Famous residents

Arts/Literature

Business/Science/Other

Entertainers/Musicians

Sports

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Connelly, Joel (2005-10-17). "We have to live with our transit decisions". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst Newspapers). http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/244857_joel17.html. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  3. ^ a b "Columbia Plateau Ecoregion: Biodiversity". Washington Biodiversity Project. http://www.biodiversity.wa.gov/ecoregions/columbia_plateau/columbia_plateau.html. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  4. ^ "Shrub Steppe Ecology". Washington State University Tri-Cities. http://www.tricity.wsu.edu/shrub_steppe/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  5. ^ "Fitzner/Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve Fact Sheet" (pdf). U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Hanford Reach National Monument. August 2002. http://www.fws.gov/hanfordreach/documents/alefactsheet.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  6. ^ "Richland Operations Office Cleanup Progress". United States Department of Energy. http://www.hanford.gov/rl/?page=44&parent=0. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 

External links








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