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Pullman, Washington
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
Nickname(s): 
The Lentil Capital
Motto(s): 
HIGH Tech, HIGHER Education, HIGHEST Quality of Life -
The location of Pullman in Washington
The location of Pullman in Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Whitman
Incorporated April 11, 1888
Government
 • Type Strong Mayor–Council
Area
 • Total 10.93 sq mi (28.31 km2)
 • Land 10.93 sq mi (28.31 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
2,352 ft (717 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 29,799
 • Estimate 
(2019)
34,506
 • Density 3,157.29/sq mi (1,219.01/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
99163-99165
Area code 509
FIPS code 53-56625
GNIS feature ID 1531905

Pullman is the largest city in Whitman County, located in southeastern Washington state within the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. The population was 29,799 at the 2010 census, and estimated to be 34,506 in 2019. Originally founded as Three Forks, the city was renamed after industrialist George Pullman in 1884.

Pullman is noted as a fertile agricultural area known for its many miles of rolling hills and the production of wheat and legumes. It is home to Washington State University, a public research land-grant university, and the international headquarters of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Pullman is eight miles (13 km) from Moscow, Idaho, home to the University of Idaho, and is served by the Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport.

History

About five years after European-American settlers established Whitman County on November 29, 1871, Bolin Farr arrived here, camping in 1876 at the confluence of Dry Flat Creek and Missouri Flat Creek, on the bank of the Palouse River. Within the year, Dan McKenzie and William Ellsworth arrived to stake claims for adjoining land. They named the first post office located here as Three Forks. In the spring of 1881, Orville Stewart opened a general store and Bolin Farr platted about 10 acres (40,000 m2) of his land for a town.

Pullman was incorporated 136 years ago in 1886 with a population of about 200 people. It was originally named Three Forks, after the three small rivers that converge there: Missouri Flat Creek, Dry Fork, and the South Fork of the Palouse River. In 1884, Dan McKenzie and Charles Moore (of Moscow) replatted the site and named it for American industrialist George Pullman.

On March 28, 1890, the Washington State Legislature established the state's land grant college, but did not designate a location. Pullman leaders were determined to secure the new college and offered 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land for its campus. Idaho Territory had established its land grant college in 1889; the University of Idaho was to be located in neighboring Moscow. On April 18, 1891, the site selection commission appointed by Washington's governor chose Pullman. On January 13, 1892, the institution opened with 59 students under the name Washington Agricultural College and School of Science. It was renamed the State College of Washington in 1905, more commonly known as "Washington State College," and became Washington State University in 1959.

In 1961, Pullman became a non-chartered code city under the Mayor-Council form of government. The city has an elected mayor with an elected seven-member council and an appointed administrative officer, the city supervisor.

Neighborhoods

Pullman is situated across four major hills, which divide the city into nearly equal quarters: these are Military Hill, north of the Palouse River and west of North Grand Avenue; Pioneer Hill, south of Main Street and the downtown area, and east of South Grand Avenue; Sunnyside Hill, south of Davis Way and west of South Grand Avenue; and College Hill, north of Main Street and east of North Grand Avenue.

The WSU campus is located on College Hill, and part of the area is an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic character of College Hill is manifest in its many early-twentieth century craftsman-style bungalows and two streets which retain their original red brick paving. See Red Brick Roads of Pullman, Washington (NE Palouse St./NE Maple St.).

Companies associated with an expanding high-tech industry are located at the north end of the city, anchored by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL). The lab company was founded by Edmund Schweitzer, a Ph.D. graduate of WSU. SEL and other firms are located within the 107-acre (0.43 km2) Pullman Industrial Park, run by the Port of Whitman County.

Schools

The Pullman School District consists of the following:

  • Franklin Elementary school
  • Jefferson Elementary school
  • Sunnyside Elementary school
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Pullman High School

Pullman High School (PHS) is attended by about 700 students, and is the city's only public high school. It is located on Military Hill. Its mascot for its athletic teams is the greyhound. PHS offers honors and advanced placement courses, along with Running Start course work through WSU and area community colleges, such as Spokane Falls Community College.

Washington State University

Pullman is the site of the largest and original campus of Washington State University (WSU), a member of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12) in NCAA Division I. WSU is well known for its veterinary medicine, business, architecture, engineering, agriculture, pharmacy, and communications schools.

Geography and climate

Pullman is located at 46°43′59″N 117°10′19″W / 46.733°N 117.172°W / 46.733; -117.172 (46.733, -117.172). at an elevation of 2,352 ft (717 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.88 square miles (25.59 km2), all of it land. The water supply is a natural aquifer. The surrounding region, called the Palouse prairie, or simply the Palouse, is noteworthy for its fertile rolling hills where winter and spring wheat, barley, lentils, and peas are grown.

Palouse hills northeast of Walla Walla
Surrounding Palouse hills

Climate

Pullman's climate is classified as dry-summer humid continental (Köppen Dsb), using the 0° threshold for mean coldest winter month; it nearly qualifies as having a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). This climate is typified by warm, dry summers followed by cold, snowy winters with short transitional seasons in between. Owing to the protective nature of the Cascade Range to its west, clear skies occur regularly throughout the year and rainfall is drastically less frequent in comparison to cities west of the mountains. Clouds of any variety are especially scant between June and September, which contributes to a diurnal temperature variation that is much higher during the summer compared to winter. Pullman averages 21 inches (530 mm) of precipitation throughout the year. The warmest month is August with an average daily high of 82 degrees (27.8 °C), while January is the coldest month with an average daily high of 35 degrees (1.67 °C).

Precipitation is highly seasonal. Virtually no precipitation occurs between June and September, while the period of mid November through mid March commonly receives snowfall. Rain, though sporadic, is mostly recorded during the transitional seasons. December and January are the snowiest months, respectively, averaging 7.80 inches and 7.09 inches each. Areas of snowpack accumulate every winter and frequently last into March before melting entirely. Snowfall can also occur in the transitional months of October and April, though it is uncommon and usually melts within a day.

Climate data for Pullman, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
(13.9)
66
(18.9)
73
(22.8)
88
(31.1)
97
(36.1)
104
(40)
104
(40)
110
(43.3)
100
(37.8)
90
(32.2)
71
(21.7)
59
(15)
110
(43.3)
Average high °F (°C) 35
(1.7)
41
(5)
48
(8.9)
57
(13.9)
65
(18.3)
72
(22.2)
82
(27.8)
83
(28.3)
74
(23.3)
60
(15.6)
43
(6.1)
35
(1.7)
57.9
(14.4)
Average low °F (°C) 24
(-4.4)
27
(-2.8)
31
(-0.6)
36
(2.2)
42
(5.6)
47
(8.3)
50
(10)
50
(10)
44
(6.7)
37
(2.8)
30
(-1.1)
24
(-4.4)
36.8
(2.69)
Record low °F (°C) −29
(-33.9)
−24
(-31.1)
−4
(-20)
13
(-10.6)
21
(-6.1)
30
(-1.1)
32
(0)
30
(-1.1)
20
(-6.7)
7
(-13.9)
−14
(-25.6)
−32
(-35.6)
−32
(-35.6)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.46
(62.5)
2.10
(53.3)
2.01
(51.1)
1.72
(43.7)
1.77
(45)
1.30
(33)
0.79
(20.1)
0.89
(22.6)
0.88
(22.4)
1.48
(37.6)
2.83
(71.9)
2.78
(70.6)
21.01
(533.7)
Snowfall inches (cm) 7.09
(18.01)
4.43
(11.25)
3.57
(9.07)
1.63
(4.14)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.49
(1.24)
3.48
(8.84)
7.80
(19.81)
28.49
(72.36)
Source: The Weather Channel

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 868
1900 1,308 50.7%
1910 2,602 98.9%
1920 2,440 −6.2%
1930 3,322 36.1%
1940 4,417 33.0%
1950 12,022 172.2%
1960 12,957 7.8%
1970 20,509 58.3%
1980 23,579 15.0%
1990 23,478 −0.4%
2000 24,675 5.1%
2010 29,799 20.8%
2019 (est.) 34,506 15.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek selected Pullman as the "Best Place to Raise Kids" in Washington. Factors included affordability, safety, a family-friendly lifestyle, the quality of Pullman High School, the presence of Washington State University, and the natural environment of the area.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,799 people, 11,029 households, and 3,898 families living in the city. The population density was 3,016.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,164.5/km2). There were 11,966 housing units at an average density of 1,211.1 per square mile (467.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 79.3% White, 2.3% African American, 0.7% Native American, 11.2% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 11,029 households, of which 17.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.5% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 64.7% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the city was 22.3 years. 11.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 51.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.7% were from 25 to 44; 10.5% were from 45 to 64; and 4.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.3% male and 48.7% female.

Transportation

Pullman is located near the junction of several major highways. U.S. Route 195 and State Route 27 travel north towards the Spokane area, passing through various towns in the Palouse, while State Route 270 follows the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail to Moscow, Idaho.

Pullman is served by the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport two miles (3 km) east of Pullman and four miles (6.5 km) west of Moscow. Horizon Air offers four flights daily from Pullman-Moscow to Seattle and four flights daily from Seattle to Pullman-Moscow. Shuttle service to Spokane International Airport is available. Major bus routes, including Greyhound, pass through Pullman.

The city is also served by Pullman Transit, which provides bus service for residents and WSU students who do not live on campus. WSU students are able to ride without fares by presenting their student ID card, as the university includes a transit fee in tuition.

Additional information

Bloomberg Businessweek chose Pullman in 2011 as the "Best Place to Raise Kids" in Washington. Factors include affordability, a family-friendly lifestyle, the quality of Pullman High School, the presence of Washington State University, and the natural beauty of the area. Neighboring Moscow in Idaho received the same recognition for that state.

Since 1989, Pullman has been home to the National Lentil Festival, a major community event celebrating the lentil legume grown in the surrounding Palouse region. The festival includes a lentil cook-off, Friday night street fair, Saturday parade and music in the park, and more. It is held on the August weekend before fall semester classes start at WSU.

Pullman is the sister city of Kasai, Hyōgo, Japan.

Economy

Washington State University is the largest employer in both Pullman and Whitman County.

As part of the Palouse Knowledge Corridor, companies associated with an expanding high-tech industry are at the city's north end, anchored by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), the largest private employer in the region. The lab company was founded by Edmund Schweitzer, a Ph.D. graduate of WSU. SEL and other firms are within the 107-acre (0.43 km2) Pullman Industrial Park, run by the Port of Whitman County.

Pullman Regional Hospital opened on Bishop Boulevard in late 2004; its predecessor, Pullman Memorial Hospital, was on the WSU campus and shared facilities with the student health center.

Education

The Pullman School District consists of the following schools:

  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Sunnyside Elementary School
  • Kamiak Elementary School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Pullman High School

The city's only public high school, Pullman High School (PHS) has about 700 students. It is on Military Hill. Its mascot for its athletic teams is the greyhound. PHS offers honors and advanced placement courses, along with Running Start course work through WSU and Spokane Falls Community College.

Washington State University

Pullman is the site of the flagship campus of Washington State University (WSU), a member of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12) in NCAA Division I. WSU is the second-largest university in the state of Washington, and is well known for its veterinary medicine, business, architecture, engineering, agriculture, pharmacy, and communications schools.

Notable people

  • Pat Beach, NFL tight end for eleven seasons for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, and Arizona Cardinals
  • John Elway, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos, was a resident for four years and attended Pullman High School as a freshman
  • John M. Fabian, former NASA astronaut, graduated from Pullman High School and WSU
  • Susan Fagan, Politician. Member of Washington House of Representatives.
  • William La Follette, U.S. Congressman, lived in Pullman
  • Timm Rosenbach, NFL quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints; played at Pullman High School and Washington State
  • James Mattis, former USMC general and the 26th Secretary of Defense
  • Jean Hegland, novelist, born and raised in Pullman
  • Ron C. Mittelhammer, former director of the School of Economic Sciences and former president of the American Agricultural Economics Association
  • Kirk Triplett, three-time winner on the PGA Tour and member of the 2000 President's Cup team, 1980 graduate of Pullman High School
  • Young Jean Lee, playwright, raised in Pullman
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