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Yakima, Washington

City of Yakima
Yakima viewed from Lookout Point
Yakima viewed from Lookout Point
Official seal of Yakima
Nickname(s): The Palm Springs of Washington; The Heart of Central Washington
Location of Yakima in Washington
Location of Yakima in Washington
Yakima is located in USA
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Washington
County Yakima
Incorporated December 10, 1883
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Manager Tony O'Rourke
 • Mayor Micah Cawley (R)[1]
 • City 27.69 sq mi (71.72 km2)
 • Land 27.18 sq mi (70.40 km2)
 • Water 0.51 sq mi (1.32 km2)  1.84%
Elevation 1,066 ft (325 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 91,067
 • Estimate (2014)[4] 93,357
 • Rank US: 329th
 • Density 3,350.5/sq mi (1,293.6/km2)
 • Urban 129,534 (US: 248th)
 • Metro 247,687 (US: 187th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
Zip Code 98901, 98902, 98903, 98904, 98907, 98908, 98909
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-80010
GNIS feature ID 1509643[5]

Yakima ( or ) is a US city located about 60 miles southeast of Mount Rainier in Washington. Yakima is the county seat of Yakima County, Washington, and the state's ninth largest city by population. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 91,067 and a metropolitan population of 243,231.[6] The unincorporated suburban areas of West Valley and Terrace Heights are considered a part of greater Yakima.[7]

Yakima is situated in the Yakima Valley, an extremely productive agricultural region noted for apple, wine and hop production. As of 2011, the Yakima Valley produces 77% of all hops grown in the United States.[8] The name Yakima originates from the Yakama Nation, located south of the city.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Yakima region 2.1
    • Bodies of water 2.2
    • Climate 2.3
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 census 3.1
  • Culture 4
    • All America City Award 4.1
    • Festivals and fairs 4.2
    • Sports 4.3
  • Transportation 5
    • Roads and highways 5.1
    • Public transport 5.2
    • Airport 5.3
  • Economy 6
  • Tourism 7
  • Education 8
    • High schools 8.1
      • Public schools 8.1.1
      • Private schools 8.1.2
    • Post-secondary schools 8.2
  • Media 9
  • Notable people 10
  • In popular culture 11
  • Sister cities 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


Armistice Day on Yakima Avenue

The Yakama people were the first known inhabitants of the Yakima Valley. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came to the area and discovered abundant wildlife and rich soil, prompting the settlement of homesteaders.[9] A Catholic Mission was established in Ahtanum, southwest of present-day Yakima, in 1847.[10] The arrival of settlers and their conflicts with the natives resulted in the Yakima War. The U.S. Army established Fort Simcoe in 1856 near present-day White Swan as a response to the uprising. The Yakamas were defeated and forced to relocate to the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Yakima County was created in 1865. When bypassed by the Northern Pacific Railroad in December 1884, over 100 buildings were moved with rollers and horse teams to the nearby site of the depot. The new city was dubbed North Yakima and was officially incorporated and named the county seat on January 27, 1886. The name was changed to Yakima in 1918. Union Gap was the new name given to the original site of Yakima.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.69 square miles (71.72 km2), of which, 27.18 square miles (70.40 km2) is land and 0.51 square miles (1.32 km2) is water.[2] Yakima is 1095 feet above mean sea level.

Yakima region

Yakima, Washington as seen from the west.

The city of Yakima is located in the Upper Valley of Yakima County. The county is geographically divided by Ahtanum Ridge and Rattlesnake Ridge into two regions: the Upper (northern) and Lower (southern) valleys. Yakima is located in the more urbanized Upper Valley, and is the central city of the Yakima Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The cities of Selah and Union Gap lie immediately to the north and south of Yakima. In addition, the unincorporated suburban areas of West Valley and Terrace Heights are considered a part of greater Yakima. With these cities included in the immediate area, population within 20 miles of the city is over 123,000. Other nearby cities include Moxee, Tieton, Cowiche, Wiley City, Tampico, Gleed, and Naches in the Upper Valley, as well as Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah, Harrah, White Swan, Parker, Buena, Outlook, Granger, Mabton, Sunnyside, and Grandview in the Lower Valley. As of the 2013, the estimated population of the metropolitan area is 247,044.

Bodies of water

The primary irrigation source for the Yakima Valley, the Yakima River, runs through Yakima from its source at Lake Keechelus in the Cascade Range to the Columbia River at Richland. In Yakima, the river is used for both fishing and recreation. A 10-mile (16 km) walking and cycling trail, a park, and a wildlife sanctuary are located at the river's edge.

The Naches River forms the northern border of the city. Several small lakes flank the northern edge of the city, including Myron Lake, Lake Aspen, Bergland Lake (private) and Rotary Lake (also known as Freeway Lake). These lakes are popular with fishermen and swimmers during the summer.


Yakima has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) with a Mediterranean precipitation pattern. Winters are cold, with December the coolest month, with a mean temperature of 28.5 °F (−1.9 °C).[11] Annual average snowfall is 21.7 inches (55.1 cm).,[11] with most occurring in December and January, when the snow depth averages 2–3 inches. There are 22 days per year in which the high does not surpass freezing, and 2.3 nights where the low is 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.[11] Springtime warming is very gradual, with the average last freeze of the season May 13. Summer days are hot, but the diurnal temperature variation is large, exceeding 35 °F (19 °C),sometimes reaching as high as 50 °F (28 °C). during that season; there are 34 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually and 3.2 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs. Autumn cooling is very rapid, with the average first freeze of the season occurring on September 30. Due to the city's location in a rain shadow, precipitation, at an average of 8.22 inches (209 mm) annually, is low year-round,[11] but especially during summer. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −25 °F (−32 °C) on February 1, 1950, to 110 °F (43 °C) on August 10, 1971.[12]

Climate data for Yakima, Washington (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 38.6
Average low °F (°C) 23.3
Record low °F (°C) −21
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.13
Average snowfall inches (cm) 5.5
Average precipitation days 9.5 7.5 6.4 5.8 6.2 5.2 2.4 2.3 3.2 4.7 8.6 10.1 71.9
Average snowy days 4.3 2.2 .7 .1 0 0 0 0 0 .1 1.7 6.2 15.3
Source: NOAA (extremes 1946–present)[11]


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 91,067 people with 33,074 households, and 21,411 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,350.5 people per square mile. There were 34,829 housing units at an average density of 1,281.4 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 67.1% White, 1.7% African American, 2.0% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 23.3% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. 41.3% were Hispanic or Latino, of any race.[15][16] 19.1% of the population had a bachelor's degree or higher.[17]

There were 33,074 households of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.3% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.3.

28.3% of the population was under the age of 18 and 13.1% were 65 years or older. The median age was 33.9 years. 50.7% of the population was female.

The median household income was $39,706. The per capita income was $20,771. 21.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

Yakima is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over redistricting its city council seats. Despite having an over 40% Hispanic population, Yakima has never elected a Hispanic to the city council. After resisting efforts to voluntarily redistrict, Yakima was sued by the ACLU in Federal Court and lost on summary judgement. The case is being appealed, though the election will go forward this fall for an all new city council, with two Latino majority districts[18]


Cultural activities and events take place throughout the year. The Yakima Valley Museum houses exhibits related to the region’s natural and cultural history, a restored soda fountain, and periodic special exhibitions. Downtown Yakima’s historic Capitol Theatre and Seasons Performance Hall, as well as the West-side’s Allied Arts Center, present numerous musical and stage productions. Larson Gallery housed at Yakima Valley Community College present six diverse art exhibitions each year. The city is home to the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. The Yakima Area Arboretum is a botanical garden featuring species of both native and adapted non-native plants. Popular music tours, trade shows, and other large events are hosted at the Yakima SunDome in State Fair Park.

All America City Award

In 1994 and 2015, the City of Yakima received the All-America City Award, given by the National Civic League. Ten U.S. cities receive this award per year.

Festivals and fairs

  • Central Washington State Fair, held each year in late September at State Fair Park.
  • Yakima Folklife Festival,[19] held the second week of July at Franklin Park.
  • Fresh Hop Ale Festival,[20] held each October in Downtown Yakima.
  • A Case of the Blues and All That Jazz,[21] held in August in Sarg Hubbard Park.


The Sun Dome was home to the Warriors and Sun Kings.

(Former professional teams)


Roads and highways

Welcome sign on I-82.

Interstate 82 is the main highway through Yakima. The highway runs north and south, but is sign-posted east and west. Northbound traffic is posted west, since this heads towards Seattle, and southbound traffic is posted east since this heads towards Salt Lake City. U.S. Route 12 crosses through the city from White Pass. U.S. Route 97 joins I-82 from Yakima for approximately 40 miles (64 km) north to Ellensburg. State Route 24 terminates at Yakima and is the primary means of reaching Moxee City and many of the area's agricultural areas to the east. State Route 821 terminates near Yakima and is also called Canyon Road because it passes through the Yakima River canyon. It is an alternate route to Ellensburg which bypasses the I-82 summit at Manastash Ridge.

Public transport

Yakima Transit services Yakima, Selah, west Valley and Terrace Heights, as well as several daily trips to Ellensburg. There are also free intercity bus systems between adjacent Union Gap and nearby Toppenish, Wapato, White Swan, and Ellensburg.[22]


Yakima's airport, McAllister Field, operates commercial flights by Alaska Airlines to Seattle.

The airport is home to numerous private aircraft, and is a popular test site for military jets and Boeing test flights. Several businesses are located at the airport including Hertz Car Rental, Budget Rent a Car, Airporter Shuttle, Cub Crafters and several freight companies.


Yakima's growth in the 20th century was fueled primarily by agriculture. The Yakima Valley produces many fruit crops, including apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and melons. Many vegetables are also produced, including peppers, corn and beans. Most of the nation's hops, a key ingredient in the production of beer, are also grown in the Yakima Valley. Many of the city's residents have come to the Valley out of economic necessity and to participate in the picking, processing, marketing and support services for the agricultural economy.

Largest employers in the Yakima area[23]
Employer Type Persons employed
1. Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Hospital 2,200
2. Yakima School District School district
3. Walmart Department store 1,587
4. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services State government
(Social services)
5. Yakima County County government 1,213
6. Del Monte Foods Fruit processing 1,200
7. Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Hospital 1,181
8. Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center Hospital 942
9. Yakima Training Center United States Army
10. AB Foods Beef processing 850
11. Yakima Valley Community College Education 761
12. City of Yakima City government 711
13. Yakama Legends Casino Casino 634
14. Washington State Department of Transportation State government 555
15. Tree Top, Inc. Fruit processing 540

Downtown Yakima, long the retail hub of the region, has undergone many changes since the late 1990s. Three major department stores, and an entire shopping mall that is now closed, have been replaced by a Whirlpool Corporation facility, an Adaptis call center, and several hotels.

The region's retail core has shifted to the town of Union Gap, where a renovated shopping mall and other new retail businesses are flourishing. While some see big-box retail leaving the downtown area as a loss, others see it as an opportunity to recast the downtown area as a center for events, services, entertainment, and smaller, more personal shopping experiences. One part of this effort has been the Downtown Futures Initiative.[24] The DFI has provided for street-to-storefront remodeling along Yakima Avenue throughout the entire downtown core, and includes new pedestrian-friendly lighting, water fountains, planters, banner poles and new trees and hanging baskets, all of which complement the new paver-inlaid sidewalks.

Events held downtown include Yakima Downtown New Year's Eve, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Yakima Live music festival, Yakima Summer Kickoff Party, Fresh Hop Ale Fest,[20] a weekly Farmers' Market,[25] and the Hot Shots 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.[26]

A bright spot in the economy of the Yakima Valley is the burgeoning wine industry, due in part to the Yakima Valley soil, which is very similar to the soil conditions of France. Over fifty wineries dot the Yakima Valley, covering more than 11,000 acres (45 km2).

The Yakima Training Center, between Yakima and Ellensburg, is a United States Army training center. It is used primarily for maneuver training and land warrior system testing, and has a live-fire area. Artillery units from the Canadian Armed Forces based in British Columbia, as well as the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, conduct annual training in Yakima. Japanese soldiers train there because it allows for large-scale live-fire maneuvers not available in Japan. Similarly, it is the closest impact area for the Canadian Gunners, the next closest being in Wainwright, Alberta.


In the early 2000s, the city of Yakima, in conjunction with multiple city organizations, began revitalization and preservation efforts in its historic downtown area. The Downtown Yakima Futures Initiative was created to make strategic public investments in sidewalks, lighting and landscaping to encourage further development. As a result, local businesses featuring regional produce, wines, and beers, among other products, have returned to the downtown area. Many of these business are located on Front Street, Yakima Avenue and 1st Street.

During the summer, a pair of historic trolleys operate along five miles (8 km) of track of the former Yakima Valley Transportation Company through the Yakima Gap connecting Yakima and Selah. The Yakima Valley Trolleys organization, incorporated in 2001, operates the trolleys and a museum for the City of Yakima.


The city of Yakima has three K–12 public school districts, several private schools, and three post-secondary schools.

High schools

Public schools

There are five high schools in the Yakima School District:

Outside the city:

  • West Valley High School, in the West Valley School District, is a division 4A school with a student population of around 1,500.
  • East Valley High School, just east of Terrace Heights on the city's eastern side, is in the East Valley School District. It is a 2A school with about 1,000 students.

Private schools

  • La Salle High School in Union Gap is a Catholic high school in the 1A division and enrolls about 200 students.
  • Riverside Christian School, near East Valley High School, is a private K–12 Christian school. Riverside Christian is also a 2B school with around 200 students in grades 9–12.
  • Yakima Adventist Christian School serves Kindergarten through 10th grade.
  • St. Paul Cathedral School is a private K–8 school with about 250 students.
  • St. Joseph Marquette is a private school for preschool through grade 8 students. It has about the same number of students as St. Paul's.
  • St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox School is a private school.
  • Oakridge Montessori school serves students from 18 months to grade 8.
  • Westpark Christian Academy, serves preschool through grade 12, with around 80 students.
  • Selah Covenant Christian School and Agapeland Preschool serves preschool through grade 4, with around 100 students.
  • Grace Lutheran School serves preschool to grade 8.

Post-secondary schools

Yakima Valley Community College (YVCC) is one of the oldest community colleges in the state of Washington. Founded in 1928, YVCC is a public, two-year institution of higher education, and part of one of the most comprehensive community college systems in the nation. It offers programs in adult basic education, English as a Second Language, lower-division arts and sciences, professional and technical education, transfer degrees to in-state universities, and community services.

Perry Technical Institute is a private, nonprofit school of higher learning located in the city since 1939. Perry students learn trades such as automotive technology, instrumentation, information technology, HVAC, electrical, machining, office administration, medical coding, and legal assistant/paralegal.

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences opened in the fall of 2008,[28] and graduated its first class of osteopathic physicians (D.O.) in 2012. The university has plans to open a PsyD program (clinical psychology) and a masters program in physician assistant studies.[29] The first college on the 42.5-acre (172,000 m2) campus is home to the first medical school approved in the Pacific Northwest in over 60 years, and trains physicians with an osteopathic emphasis. The school's mission is to train primary-care physicians committed to serving rural and underserved communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is housed in a state-of-the-art 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) facility.[30]


Yakima is served by a diverse variety of print and broadcast media. The Yakima Herald-Republic is the primary daily newspaper in the area.

According to Arbitron, the Yakima metropolitan area is the 197th largest radio market in the US, serving 196,500 people.[31]

Yakima is part of the U.S.'s 123rd largest television viewing market, which includes viewers in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick.[32]

Notable people

In popular culture

  • In an episode of Cheers, Eddie LeBec phones Carla Tortelli from the bus station in Yakima while touring with his ice show.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, George and Elaine are all at the diner, and Jerry mentions sarcastically that Elaine is dating a man from Yakima. The man was actually from Seattle.
  • In the movie Extreme Days, the guys go to Yakima to visit Corey Ng's grandparents.
  • In the movie Ray, one of Ray Charles' concerts takes place in Yakima.
  • In the Kenan & Kel episode "Housesitter", Chris mentions going to (a fictional) "Yakima Springs" with his mother.
  • In an episode of iCarly, Carly's grandfather comes to take her to his home in Yakima because he thinks that Carly's brother Spencer has not been responsible enough with her.
  • In the 2006 movie Outsourced, the lead character, Todd Anderson, says his parents live in Yakima.
  • In the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Cliff Burnstein of Q Prime Management mentions going through Yakima while touring.
  • In True Blood, Steve Newlin mentions that Elvis was spotted in a 7-Eleven in Yakima.
  • In Rats Saw God, the protagonist's father was born in Yakima.
  • Yakima is the setting of the episode "Wrestling With The Devil" of Investigation Discovery's series I'd Kill For You.

Sister cities

Yakima's sister cities are:


  1. ^ Ambarian, Jonathon (4 March 2014). "Cawley announces campaign for Yakima County Auditor". KIMA-TV. Retrieved 2 October 2015. Cawley will square off against State Rep. Charles Ross of Naches, a fellow Republican, in the race to replace the retiring Corky Holloway. 
  2. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  3. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Washington's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting" ( 
  7. ^ "State and City Quickfacts". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  8. ^ "Hop Economics Working Group". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  9. ^ "City of Yakima History". City of Yakima. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  10. ^ : "St. Joseph's Mission, Ahtanum Valley, Tampico vicinity, Yakima County, WA".  
  11. ^ a b c d e "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data".  
  12. ^ "Average Weather for Yakima, WA - Temperature and Precipitation". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^  
  15. ^ "2010 Demographic Profile Data". Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010. US Census Bureau. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  16. ^ La Ganga, Maria L. (September 25, 2014) "Yakima Valley Latinos Getting a Voice, With Court's Help" Los Angeles Times
  17. ^ "State & County QuickFacts - Yakima (city), WA". US Census Bureau State & County QuickFacts. US Census Bureau. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Yakima Folklife Festival". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  20. ^ a b "Fresh Hop Ale Festival". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  21. ^ "A Case of the Blues and All That Jazz". Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  22. ^ "Pahto Public Passage". Yakama Nation Tribal Transit. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  23. ^ "Yakima Valley Major Employers". Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  24. ^ "Downtown Futures Initiative". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  25. ^ "Farmers' Market". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  26. ^ "Hot Shots 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences". Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  29. ^ Ward, Leah Beth (August 8, 2008). "Pacific NW University Will Add Two Colleges". Yakima Herald-Republic. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  30. ^ "New osteopathic school planned for Yakima". Puget Sound Business Journal. April 14, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  31. ^ "Arbitron Radio Market Rankings: Spring 2012". Arbotron. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "Local Television Market Universe Estimates" (PDF). Nielson. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "Oleta Adams Biography". Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  34. ^ "Jamie Allen Stats". Baseball Almanac. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  35. ^ a b Jenkins, Sarah (2 April 2006). "Their claim is fame - and a link to the Valley". Yakima Herald-Republic. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  36. ^ Muir, Pat (17 September 2010). "Outtakes from the Garret Dillahunt interview". Yakima Herald Republic. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Most Popular People Born In Yakima, Washington, USA". Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb). Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  38. ^ Ward, Leah (23 August 2009). "Larry Knechtel, a music legend, dies at 69". Yakima Herald Republic. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  39. ^ a b c d e "Most Popular People Born In Yakima, Washington, USA". Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb). Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  40. ^ "James Walter Nolan, Jr. (Obituary)". Yakima Herald-Republic. 24 March 2004. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  41. ^ "Creek actor Will Sampson honored with spot on Oklahoma Walk of Fame". Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 

Further reading

  • Lyman, William Denison (1919). History of the Yakima Valley, Washington : comprising Yakima, Kittitas, and Benton counties. S.J. Clarke. Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection

External links

  • Official City Website
  • Official Visitors and Convention Bureau
  • Committee for Downtown Yakima
  • Yakima, Washington at DMOZ

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