Pasco is one of three cities that make up the Tri-Cities region of the state of Washington. The Tri-Cities is a mid-sized metropolitan area of approximately 256,000 people that also includes the cities of Kennewick and Richland.
The population was 54,600 at the 2010 census. Since that time the city has experienced rapid growth, and the official April 1, 2011 estimate from the Washington State Office of Financial Management puts the city's population at 61,100.
On October 16, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in the Pasco area, at a site now commemorated by Sacagawea State Park. The area was frequented by fur trappers and gold traders. In the 1880s, the Northern Pacific Railway was built near the Columbia River, bringing many settlers to the area. Pasco was officially incorporated on September 3, 1891. It was named by Virgil Bogue, a construction engineer for the Northern Pacific Railway after Cerro de Pasco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, where he had helped build a railroad. In its early years, it was a small railroad town, but the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam in 1941 brought irrigation and agriculture to the area.
Due in large part to the presence of the Hanford Site, the entire Tri-Cities area grew rapidly from the 1940s through 1950s. However, most of the population influx resided in Richland and Kennewick, as Pasco remained primarily driven by the agricultural industry, and to a less degree, the NP Pasco rail yards. After the end of World War II, the entire region went through several "boom" and "bust" periods, cycling approximately every 10 years and heavily based on available government funding for Hanford-related work. Due to its higher poverty level, Pasco was seen by many as the least desirable of the three cities and over time became the smallest of the Tri-Cities in terms of population. Farming continued to be the economic base for most of the city.
In the late 1990s, foreseeing another Hanford-related boom period, several developers purchased large farm circles in Pasco for residential and commercial development. Since that time, Pasco has undergone a transformation that has not only seen its population overtake the neighboring city of Richland, but also has resulted in growth in the city's retail and tourism industries. Recently incorporated land on the West side of the city has exploded into new housing tracts, apartments, and shopping centers. This area of the city has become referred to locally as "West Pasco", distinguishing it from the older area of town to the East. In addition to an influx of new residents to the region, many residents of the Tri-Cities have moved from Richland and Kennewick to West Pasco due to its central location and virtually all-new housing and business. With the Tri-Cities population appearing to reach a point of critical mass, the growth in West Pasco will likely continue into the foreseeable future.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.2 square miles (78.3 km²). In addition, 28.1 square miles (72.7 km²) of it is land and 2.1 square miles (5.5 km²) of it (7.08%) is water.
As Pasco is located in Southeastern Washington, the city lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Range. As a result, the area is a windswept desert, receiving little precipitation throughout the year. Hot summers and cold winters provide a stark contrast to other areas of the state.
The massive Columbia River borders the south side of the city, separating it from the neighboring cities of Richland and Kennewick. To the north is Glade, Sagemoor, Eltopia, and Matthew's Corner. To the east is the former town of Ainsworth Junction, and Burbank. To the west is West Pasco and Richland. South is Kennewick, Finley, and Highland.
Pasco's climate is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 70's and very cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 30's.
The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 89.30 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 28.00 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual average precipitation at Pasco is 8.01 Inches. Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is December with an average rainfall of 1.16 Inches.
Among all of Pasco's annual activities and events, the most popular is the Pasco Farmers Market, located in downtown Pasco. The market is open from May through October each year, drawing a large regional crowd and providing an outlet for farmers selling fresh produce.
The Fiery Foods Festival is another popular event held each September. This one-day event celebrates spicy foods of all varieties, and highlights the thriving Hispanic culture that lives in the city.
Pasco's Gesa Stadium hosts the Tri-City Dust Devils baseball club of the Northwest League. The Dust Devils are a Class A team of the Colorado Rockies. The team plays during summer months during its short season.
The Pasco School District's renovated Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium, constructed in a former gravel pit used in the construction of the Blue Bridge, provides a unique venue for outdoor athletic events.
Pasco is located along a major stretch of the 22-mile Sacagawea Heritage Trail, an interactive educational and recreational hiking/biking loop that circles the Tri-Cities area.
Pasco has several waterfront parks along the Columbia River, as well as easy river access for boaters, fishers, and skiers at any of the free boat launches.
The TRAC (Trade Recreation Agricultural Center) is a large complex located in West Pasco which hosts regional events, including (but not limited to) conventions, meetings, sporting events, and concerts. The TRAC is located near the booming Road 68 corridor of West Pasco.
The Ed Hendler Bridge is a notable landmark that connects Kennewick and Pasco together. It crosses over the Columbia River.
It was constructed in 1978 and replaced the Pasco-Kennewick Bridge, an earlier span built in 1922 and demolished in 1995. The bridge is one of seven major bridge structures in the Tri-Cities area. The Blue Bridge (another Pasco/Kennewick bridge), the Interstate 182 Bridge that connects Pasco with Richland, the U.S. Highway 12 bridge over the Snake River (Pasco/Burbank), and three railroad bridges are the others.
The bridge is the first in the United States to use a 'cable-stayed' design and is constructed almost entirely of prestressed concrete. The bridge towers were constructed first, with the bridge deck, which was cast in individual segments, raised up and secured to each other.
The bridge was named after Ed Hendler, a Pasco, Washington insurance salesman, as well as the city's former mayor, who headed up the committee responsible for obtaining the funding for construction of the bridge. Hendler died in August 2001.
Night lighting of the Cable Bridge was a controversial feature of the bridge had added in 1998, when lights were added to illuminate the bridge at night. Many thought this was unnecessary and a waste of both electricity and money.
The Cable Bridge, from the time of its opening, has proved to be a popular landmark in the Tri-City area, so much so it has become an unofficial symbol of the area. Every winter, an event known as the Cable Bridge Run, a 10-kilometer foot race, starts at the Kennewick end of the bridge near the Neil F. Lampson Company's headquarters.
At the foot of the Kennewick end is the Tri-Cities Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has engraved on it the names of the area's dead. The remaining pier of the old Pasco-Kennewick bridge, which was replaced by the Cable Bridge, now serves as a scenic lookout, from which one can view the more recent bridge.
The bridge is 2,503 feet in lenth, and is a width of 80 feet. It has a clearance of 48 feet to the water.
KNDU (NBC News 26 Right Now)
KFFX-TV (FOX News 11)
KERP TV (CBS News 19) - Pasco license
KTNW (PBS) - Richland
KVEW (ABC News 42)
KRLB-LP - Richland
Loz Voz Hispanic Newspaper - Pasco
Tri-City Herald - From Kennwick
Richland supports local Tri-City teams.
Baseball: NWL: Tri-City Dust Devils - Play in Pasco.
Hockey: WHL: Tri-City Americans - Play in Kennewick.
Arena Football: IFL: Tri-Cities Fever - Play in Kennewick.
Lourdes Medical Center is the major hospital in Pasco. A large and growing public health clinic, Community Health Center LaClinica, is also headquartered in Pasco. The Tri-Cities has two other hospitals (Kennewick General Hospital in Kennewick and Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland) and many medical clinics as well.
The Tri-Cities Airport is a public airport located 2 miles northwest of Pasco, in Franklin County. It is the third largest commercial airport in the State of Washington, and has three runways.
The airport's terminal at the south end of the field is owned by the Port of Pasco and is the northern terminus of North 20th Avenue. Firefighting services are provided by the City of Pasco. A new fire station was recently built near the terminal facility. The old Navy station buildings along the east side of the airport are leased by private firms, notably Bergstrom Aircraft, which specializes in general aviation flight training, and Viper Aircraft, which builds personal (one- and two-seat) jet planes.
The airport is currently undergoing a major resurfacing of the runways, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Major highways weave in and around Richland and the Tri-Cities. The Cable Bridge connects Kennewick to Pasco, and is a Tri-City landmark.