Richland is a city in Benton County in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Washington, at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 37,708. April 1, 2007 estimates from the Washington State Office of Financial Management put the city's population at 45,070. Along with the nearby cities of Pasco and Kennewick, Richland is one of the Tri-Cities of Washington, home to the Hanford nuclear site.
For centuries, the village of Chemna stood at the mouth of the current Yakima River. Today that village site is called Columbia Point. From this village the Wanapum
and Walla Walla
Indians harvested the salmon
runs entering the Yakima River. Captain William Clark
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
visited the mouth of the Yakima River on October 17
In 1904-1905, W.R. Amon and his son Howard purchased and proposed a town site on the north bank of the Yakima River. Postal authorities approved the designation of this town site as Richland in 1905. In 1906, the town was registered at the Benton County
Courthouse. It was incorporated on April 28
as a Washington Fourth Class City.
The war years
Richland was a small farm town until the US Army
purchased 1660 km² (640 sq mi - half the size of Rhode Island
) along the Columbia River for the war effort, evicting the 300 residents of Richland as well as those of the now vanished towns of White Bluffs
just upriver. The army turned it into a bedroom community for the workers on its Manhattan Project
facility at the nearby Hanford Engineering Works (now the Hanford site). The population increased from 300 in July and August 1943 to 25,000 by the end of World War II
in August 1945. Richland became a closed city (federally controlled Atomic Energy community), with access restricted to residents and others authorized by the U.S. Army. Mail was postmarked Seattle
and many addresses were misleading. All land and buildings were owned by the government. Housing was assigned to residents and token rent was collected; families were assigned to houses or duplexes; single people were placed in apartments or barracks. Everything necessary was provided, from free bus service to light bulbs, and trees were planted in people's yards by the government.
As much of the city was planned by the Army Corps of Engineers many of the streets are named after famous engineers. For instance, the main street (George Washington Way) is named after the first president, who was a surveyor; Stevens Drive is named after John Frank Stevens, chief engineer of the Panama Canal and Stevens Pass; Goethals Drive is named after George W. Goethals, designer of the Panama Canal; and Thayer Drive is named after Sylvanus Thayer, founder of the first professional school of engineering in the United States at Dartmouth College. The rule is that if alphabet houses reside on a given street, it is named either after an engineer or a type of tree.
The end of the war
With the end of the war, that Hanford workers camp, originally located fifteen miles (24 km) north of Richland at the old Hanford town site, was closed down. Although many of them moved away as the war effort wound down, some of these workers moved to Richland, offsetting the depopulation that might otherwise have occurred.
The Cold War boom
Fears that the Soviet Union
's intentions were aggressive set off the Cold War
in 1947. The capacity to produce plutonium was increased beginning in 1947. When the Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, the U.S. nuclear program was reinvigorated. A second post-WW II expansion began in 1950 as a result of the war in Korea. Richland's Cold War construction boom resulted in Richland's population growing to 27,000 people by 1952. Many of these people lived in a construction camp of trailers located in what is now north Richland. With time, these trailers were vacated and the core city grew.
Transition to private property
The government got out of the landlord business in 1957 when the real estate was sold to the residents. Most of the people lived in duplexes; senior tenants were given the option to purchase the building; junior tenants were given the option to purchase lots in a newly platted area of north Richland. Richland was incorporated in 1958 as a chartered First Class City, an open self-governed city. As part of the transition, large areas of undeveloped land became city property. Richland's financial dependency on the federal Hanford facility changed little at this time because Hanford's mission as a weapons materials production site continued during the Cold War years.
After the production boom
With the shutdown of the last production reactor in 1987, the area transitioned to environmental cleanup and technology. Now, many Richland residents are employed at the Hanford site in its environmental cleanup mission.
Richland contains many reminders of its past. Richland High School's sports teams are called the Bombers - complete with a mushroom cloud (at one point there was a campaign to change this to the more politically correct B-17 logo after the B-17G "Day's Pay" bought by Hanford workers in 1944 for the United States Army Air Forces, but the cloud still prevails). Less controversially, Hanford, the other High School in town has a Falcon mascot.
Some of the streets platted after 1958 are named after generals in the U.S. Army (Patton Street, MacArthur Street, Sherman Street, Pershing Avenue, and after various nuclear themes, (Einstein Avenue, Curie Street, Proton Lane, Log lane, and Nuclear Lane). A local museum (Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science, and Technology (CREHST)) features exhibits of nuclear technology.
Washington State University Tri-Cities was founded in northern Richland in 1989, growing out of a former Joint Graduate Center which had been affiliated with the University of Washington, Oregon State University and Washington State University. Richland is also home to Kadlec Medical Center. Columbia Basin College Medical Training Center is near Kadlec hospital.
After the end of World War II
Richland continued to be a center of production and research into nuclear energy
, and related technology.
It has been the home of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory(PNNL)) since 1965. One of the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory sites is located immediately north of Richland. Numerous smaller high technology business and expert consultants have grown up around the Richland technology center as well.
Major employers include Battelle Memorial Institute operating PNNL, [Bechtel]] National Inc. building a waste vitrification plant, Washington River Protection Solutions controlling operations of the nuclear waste tank farms, Washington Closure providing waste management and cleanup efforts including decontamination and demolition (D&D) of facilities along the Columbia River, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company responsible for D&D of facilities on the site's Central Plateau, Duratek Federal Services, Inc. providing services to the U.S. government, Energy Northwest generating nuclear power at a nearby reactor facility, Areva creating nuclear fuel, Lockheed Martin Services, Inc. providing technology services and the U.S. Department of Energy which operates the Hanford Site.
Agriculture is important in the Richland area; the Tri-Cities
area of the Columbia Basin
grows excellent produce. Richland hosts an important food processor, ConAgra/Lamb-Weston
, which processes potatoes
and other foods. The production of wine in the lower Columbia Basin
has become one of the main industries.
Richland lies at the center of a flourishing viticulture
area which produces internationally recognized wines
in four major Washington appellations
and serves as an ideal center for wine tours. The Columbia Valley appellation which surrounds Richland contains over 7,000 hectares
planted to wine grapes. On the west the Yakima Valley appellation includes 5,000 hectares. To the east, the Walla Walla Valley appellation includes 500 hectares of wine grapes. To the immediate west, Red Mountain
, with only 350 hectares planted to grapes, produces world-class wines (consistent award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons
from Washington's first quarter-century of fine winemaking often rely on fruit from Red Mountain vineyards near Richland). Barnard Griffin Winery
, Bookwalter Winery
and Tagaris Winery
, all located in Richland, are three of the many regional wineries. Another 20 wineries lie within a 15-minute drive from Richland, and more than 100 wineries within a radius.
Wine-tasting rooms in Richland
Business and industry
The Tri-City Industrial Development Council promotes both agricultural related and technology related industries in the region.
The Richland School District
serves the cities of Richland and West Richland
with nine elementary schools (Badger Mountain, Jason Lee, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Marcus Whitman, Sacajawea, Tapteal, William Wiley, and White Bluffs); three middle schools (Carmichael, Chief Joseph, and Enterprise); and three high schools: Richland High School
(Bombers), Rivers Edge Alternative High School
(Firebirds), and Hanford High School
(Falcons). The school district's 2006 budget was about $70 million and there are approximately 10,150 students and 1,100 employees in the school district.
Columbia Basin College, primarily located in Pasco, Washington, has a small branch campus in Richland.
Washington State University, Tri-Cities, established in North Richland in 1989, sits on the western bank of the Columbia River. The university offers a number of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and for the first time, will admit freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2007.
Richland's exceptional climate makes golf one of the most popular sports. Three golf courses designed for varying levels of skill are available in Richland and seven beautiful courses are found in the area.
Richland has developed a number of parks, several of them fronting on the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. The rivers provide boating, water skiing, fishing, kayaking and waterfowl hunting opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Snow skiing and hiking are no more than 1-2 hours away.
Richland lies within a semi-arid, shrub-steppe environment, and has a number of interesting natural areas within or contiguous to the city:
- The Yakima River delta and wetlands lie within Richland and provide habitat for many birds and animals. The area around the Yakima delta provides a wooded variation of the normal shrub-steppe.
- The Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve, located on the edge of Richland in the Richland GMA area, provides a spectacular view of the Tri-Cities as well as the Columbia and Yakima rivers. A non-profit group, Friends of Badger Mountain, worked to procure this shrub-steppe area that has most native vegetation intact and then in 2005 built a trail to the summit so others can enjoy it. The 2-kilometer trail rises 300 meters above the trailhead in Richland.
- The Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, at the western edge of Richland on the Hanford Reservation, is the last remaining large block of undisturbed shrub-steppe habitat in the Pacific Northwest. The site has been closed to public since the 1940s, preserving its character. It is managed as an environmental research area and wildlife reserve.
- North of Richland, the Hanford Reach, the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in the U.S., provides both excellent sightseeing and superior salmon fishing. This free-flowing stretch flows through the Hanford Reach National Monument, which was created by Presidential proclamation in 2000, is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Volunteers are working to construct an interpretive center on Richland's Columbia Point at the confluence of the Yakima a Columbia; as of January 2006, $22M of the necessary funds are in hand and construction is expected later in the year.
Three professional sports teams are found in the immediate area:
Richland is located at (46.279657, -119.281377).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.8 square miles (97.8 km²), of which, 34.8 square miles (90.2 km²) of it is land and 2.9 square miles (7.6 km²) of it (7.79%) is water. Elevation at the airport is 120 m (394 ft).
People and culture
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
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.
- James (Jim) F. Albaugh - Executive Vice President, The Boeing Company, RHS class of 1968
- Travis Buck - Oakland Athletics outfielder
- Orson Scott Card - Science fiction writer
- Larry Coryell - Jazz guitarist, RHS class of 1961
- Gene Conley - Major League Basketball and Baseball player, RHS
- Westley Allan Dodd - Serial killer and child molester, RHS class of 1979, hanged January 5, 1993
- Dina Washburn Kruger - Nobel Peace Prize participant 2007, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, director of the U.S. EPA climate change division, Hanford High class of 1980
- James N. Mattis - Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corps RHS class of 1968
- Nate Mendel - Foo Fighters bassist Hanford High School Class of 1987
- Jason Repko - Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Hanford High class of 1999
- Hope Solo - United States women's national soccer team goalkeeper, RHS class of 1999
- Sharon Tate - Actress, murder victim, Miss Richland, 1959
- Beefy (artist) - Nerdcore artist
- Hanford High School
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- Richland High School
- Richland School District
- Tri-City Railroad Company
- Richland, Celebrating Its Heritage; Barbara J. Kubik; City of Richland, Washington; 1994
- Nuclear Culture: Living & Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex; Paul Loeb; New Society Publishers; 1986; ISBN 0-86571-088-0
- Federal City Revisited: Atomic Energy and Community Identify in Richland, Washington; Christine F. Noonan; Thesis-Ball State University; 2000
- Hanford and the Bomb; S.L. Sanger, Living History Press; 1989; ISBN 0-9624867-0-1
Click on photo for full size image.