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Downtown Richland. AJM STUDIOS Northwest Photo Journey.

Richland is a city in Benton County in the southeastern part of the Washington, at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 38,708. April 1, 2009 estimates from the Washington State Office of Financial Management put the city's population at 47,410. 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, Yakama 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, 1805.

In 1904-1905, W.R. Amon and his son Howard purchased 2,300 acres (9 km2) 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, 1910 as a Washington Fourth Class City.

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 and Hanford 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.


Richland aerial, 1945. Military grade barracks and homes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 logo, (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 U.S. Army Air Forces, but the cloud still prevails). Hanford, the city's other high school, has a less controversial falcon as its mascot.

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Downtown Richland, Washington. 2007. AJM STUDIOS Northwest Photo Journey.

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.


Richland, WA 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 87.90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 26.00 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature variations between night and day tend to be relatively big during summer with a difference that can reach 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 16 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation at Richland is 7.55 Inches. Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is November with an average rainfall of 1.07 Inches.


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).


  • Battelle Campus
  • Columbia Point
  • Downtown
  • Gold Coast Historic District
  • Horn Rapids

Downtown Richland skyline.

  • Parkway
  • Port of Benton
  • South Center
  • Stoneridge
  • Tapteal
  • Tapteal West
  • Three Rivers
  • Uptown
  • Vintner's Square
  • Westgate
  • Washington State University Tri-Cities


Richland's exceptional climate makes golf one of the most popular sports. Three 18 hole courses and one 9 hole course designed for varying levels of skill are available in Richland and ten 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.


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 60 mile radius.



KNDU (NBC News 26 Right Now)

KFFX-TV (FOX News 11)



KERP TV (CBS News 19)

KTNW (PBS) - Richland

KVEW (ABC News 42)

KRLB-LP - Richland


Tri-City Citizen - Richland

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.


Health systemsEdit

Kadlec Medical Center in is one of the major hospitals in the Tri-Cities, and services Richland. There is also Lourdes Counseling Center in Richland.


The Richland Police Department services the city, as well as the Benton County Sheriff's Department.


The nearest commercial airport is the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.

Major highways weave in and around Richland and the Tri-Cities. Richland Airport also serves the area.