Tri-Cities, Washington facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Tri-Cities
Nickname(s): Wine Country, Atomic Town
Location of the Tri-Cities in Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties.
Location of the Tri-Cities in Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties.
State Washington
County Benton, Franklin
Settled 1891
Elevation 550 ft (170 m)
Population (2010 results)
 • City 193,567 (Kennewick, Pasco, West Richland and Richland)
 • Metro 253,340 (US: 169th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 99301, 99302, 99323, 99336, 99337, 99338, 99352, 99353, 99354
Area code(s) Area code 509
Website [1]

The Tri-Cities are a group of four closely tied cities (Richland, Kennewick, West Richland,and Pasco) located at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers in the semi-arid region of Southeastern Washington. Each city borders at least one other city or one of the area's rivers, making the Tri-Cities seem like one uninterrupted mid-sized city. The cities function as the center of the Tri-Cities metropolitan area.

The combined population of the four cities was 193,567 at the 2010 Census. As of April 1, 2016, the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division estimates the cities as having a combined population of 217,430 The Tri-Cities Airport located in Pasco provides the region with commercial and private air service. Pasco is the seat of Franklin County, while the other cities are located in Benton County. Both counties are officially defined as the Kennewick-Richland, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In 2010, Kiplinger rated the Tri-Cities among the Top 10 best places to raise a family, and CNN/Money ranked the Tri-Cities one of the top 10 best bets for gains in housing value, due to its relatively stable economic conditions since the early 2000s.

Area history

Founding

RichlandWaBadgerTrail-d
Central Richland as seen from Badger Mountain

Pasco was the first of the Tri-Cities to be incorporated, in 1891. Kennewick was incorporated in 1904, and Richland followed in 1910. West Richland was founded by dissatisfied residents of Richland, who wished to be home owners rather than renters of government-owned houses, after the arrival of Hanford. Despite attempts by Richland to annex the community, they remained separate and eventually became incorporated in 1955.

Early history

Pasco was the largest city in the Tri-Cities, mostly due to its railroad station. It also had the most land for easy irrigation and farming and was still the largest up until the founding of Hanford near Richland.

Farming was the basis of virtually every sector of the economy in the early years. Indeed, the area remained mostly rural well into the 1940s. It did not have a daily newspaper or radio station until the mid-1940s. Even today, agriculture is a big part of the Tri-Cities, Pasco in particular.

1940s – 1970s

After the founding of the Hanford Site in 1943, Richland became the largest city of the three overnight. Richland's Columbia High School adopted "Bombers" as its mascot (complete with mushroom cloud logo). In 1970, Kamiakin High School (in the neighboring city of Kennewick) was founded in response to the continued influx of people. The economy continued to grow, but not without some turbulence. Every time the federal government cut funding at Hanford, thousands of talented, credentialed people would suddenly become jobless and leave for other jobs. During this time, other employers slowly made their way into the area, but they too would often be forced to cut jobs in the bad times. During the 1970s, Kennewick overtook Richland as the largest city (population-wise) of the three and has not surrendered the title since. The Columbia Center Mall was built on land newly incorporated into Kennewick, drawing growth to western Kennewick and south Richland.

1980s – 1990s

RichlandWaEMSL
The Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a major national laboratory in Richland

Completion of the Interstate 182 Bridge in 1984 made Pasco much more accessible, fueling the growth of that city. With the end of the Cold War, many in the area feared a shutdown of Hanford, followed by the Tri-Cities quickly becoming a ghost town. These fears were allayed after the United States Department of Energy switched the facility's purpose from the creation of nuclear weapons to the effective sealing and disposal of radioactive waste. During the 1990s, several major corporations entered the Tri-Cities, which helped to begin diversifying the economy apart from the Hanford sector. In 1995, a sixth public high school, Southridge High, was founded in south Kennewick.

2000s – present

The 2000s saw continued rapid growth as the Hanford site hired hundreds of workers to help with the cleanup effort. Additionally, the Tri-Cities saw a large influx of retirees from various areas of the Northwest. During this time, and the corresponding nationwide housing boom, all three cities flourished and grew significantly. Pasco became the fastest growing city in Washington (in terms of both percent increase and number of new residents). In 2005, the Census Bureau reported that Pasco's population had surpassed Richland's for the first time since pre-Hanford days.

Despite the economic recession of the late 2000s, the Tri-Cities area continued to maintain steady growth and a stable economic climate due in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which directed funding and jobs to the Hanford site and its various cleanup efforts.

Climate and geography

RichlandWaRattlesnakeYakima
The view of Rattlesnake Mountain, a windswept treeless sub-alpine ridge 1,060 meters high, from the Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

The Tri-Cities are in a semi-arid climate, receiving an average of 5 to 7 inches (130 to 180 mm) of precipitation every year. Winds periodically exceed 30 mph (48 km/h) when Chinook wind conditions exist. While there are an average 225 clear days every year, these are mainly between April 1 and November 1. Temperatures range from as low as −10 °F (−23 °C) in the winter to as high as 110 °F (43 °C) in the summer, and even reached 113 °F (45 °C) in July 2006. The region receives a yearly average of seven inches of snow but has received as much as 50 inches. Due to the semi-arid climate and subsequent large amounts of sand, a perpetual annoyance to residents is the amount of dust blown about by the frequent winds. Thanks to the aforementioned rivers, a large amount of cheap irrigation is available.

Washington is the most northwest of the lower 48 states—consequently, the area is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone. The Tri-Cities makes up the largest metropolitan area in the southeastern quadrant of Washington. The large Cascade Mountain Range to the west contributes to the semi-arid climate, which is far drier than the famously wet western side of the state. See rain shadow for more information on this phenomenon. The region's climate results in a shrub-steppe ecosystem which has 18 endemic plant species. Just west of Richland, the Fitzner/Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve was established to study the unique plants and animals found in the local shrub steppe ecosystem. It is the largest tract of shrub-steppe ecosystem remaining in the U.S. state of Washington.

ColumbiaBasin NorthernLights 2013
Aurora Borealis as seen approximately 25 miles north of Pasco, WA in May 2013

The Tri-Cities area offers many star gazing opportunities. Limited city lights and an absence of photopollution in the area allow for unadulterated naked eye and telescopic astronomy depending on the time, weather and season. The Tri-City Astronomy Club partners with LIGO to sponsor free LIGO Star Parties, which are open to the public and held at the Hanford Observatory. Prominent hiking locations, such as Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and Jump Off Joe Butte, provide an expansive view of the Tri-Cities area—opportunities to see the sunrises and sets and study celestial bodies and stellar astronomy. The aurora borealis (or northern lights) can be visible near Tri-Cities certain times of the year.

Recreation

Due to the dry climate, hot summers, and mild winters, the Tri-Cities offers a variety of outdoor actitivies.

Golfing

The area is home to 10 golf courses which can be played nearly year-round.

  • Canyon Lakes Golf Course - Kennewick
  • Columbia Park Golf Course - Kennewick
  • Tri-City Country Club - Kennewick
  • Sun Willows Golf Course - Pasco
  • Pasco Golfland - Pasco
  • Columbia Point Golf Course - Richland
  • Horn Rapids Golf Club - Richland
  • West Richland Golf Course - West Richland
  • Meadow Springs Country Club - Richland
  • Buckskin Golf Course - Richland

Running

The Tri-Cities metropolitan area offers a plethora of scenic locations for outdoor trail running. Most of the competitive runs throughout the year are detailed and promoted on the Three Rivers Road Runners Club website. The 3RRR club founded and continues to sponsor three of the area’s oldest held foot races. They are:

  • Columbia River Classic (Est. 1975) - Oldest “fun run” in the Tri-Cities. It features both a 10-mile and 2-mile run.
  • Tri-Cities Marathon (Est. 1980) – Run begins in Richland and continues through Pasco and Kennewick along the Columbia River.
  • St. Paddy’s Foot Race and Leprechaun Dash (Est. 1980) – Annual event where the local elementary and middle school students participate in a 1-mile dash while others compete in a 5K or 10K foot race.

These events and many others occur annually to help promote fitness and outdoor activities in the Tri-Cities community.

Trail system

The Tri-Cities is linked by a system of 67 miles (108 km) of paved pedestrian and bike trails that run through the various cities and along the rivers. The 23-mile (37 km) Sacagawea Heritage Trail forms a loop that crosses two bridges and runs along the Columbia River through both Kennewick and Pasco. Sacagawea Heritage Trail also connects with the Richland Riverfront Trail, a marked hiking trail that focuses on the state of Washington's contribution to the nuclear history of the United States.

Watersports

The confluence of the Snake, Yakima, and Columbia rivers provides ample opportunity for boating, fishing, and swimming. Free boat launches can be found throughout all of the cities.

Parks

The Tri-Cities is home to seven river-front parks and various other parks and playgrounds. Three skate parks are located in the area; two in Kennewick and one in Richland.

Highlands Grange Park is a Kennewick city owned Public Park between 14th and 19th streets off of Union in Kennewick. This park covers 26 acres (11 ha), serving the surrounding new and old communities of approximately 13,000 citizens.

View of Highlands Grange Park, Kennewick WA
A view of Highlands Grange Park in October 2013

According to the City of Kennewick Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Plan 2013–2018, this park requires 6 acres (2.4 ha) of expansion due to the larger than expected community growth of the area. The Southridge Sports and Events Complex helps provide park service for the adjacent Grange neighborhoods.

View of Path in the Rose Garden, Highlands Grange Park, Kennewick WA
Part of the path in the Rose Garden portion of the Demonstration Garden in October 2013

This picturesque park features plenty of recreation, including a playground structure, basketball courts, a soccer/softball field, tennis courts, a roller hockey rink, a water feature, and 8/10 mile walk through a demonstration garden. Additionally, there are two picnic shelters for hosting public events and 79 parking spaces (not including the neighboring Kennewick branch of Mid-Columbia Libraries).

The park’s most notable features include the demonstration garden and the water feature. The water feature provides summertime entertainment for local children inviting them to play amidst the colorful metal palm trees that shower water. The demonstration garden is Highland Grange Park’s primary attraction and community draw, representing a visual festival of roses and other flowers tended to by master gardeners from Washington State University. This park is commonly used for public events, ranging from weddings in the demonstration garden to weekend BBQs under the picnic shelters. The park also touts the adjacent Highlands Grande building available for reservations and indoor events.

Skateboarding

SkaterA
Jeanette Taylor skate-park
SkaterB
Jeanette Taylor skate-park
SkaterC
Jeanette Taylor skate-park

Tri-Cities has a thriving skate scene, with three skate parks: one in Kennewick and two situated in Richland. Jeanette Taylor Park, pictured here, is the number three ranked stated skate-park in Washington. Completed in 2005, this 22,100-square-foot (2,050 m2) park features street elements, an 8-foot (2.4 m) bowl off of a snake run, and a half-pipe/bowl that is 10 feet (3.0 m) deep. The Jeanette Taylor skate park frequently hosts contests, events, and competitions, including the Skatefest on May 16, 2014.

Sports teams

The Tri-Cities is home to one minor league baseball team, the Tri-City Dust Devils, and one major junior hockey club, the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.

The first of these teams to join the Tri-City area was the Tri-City Americans. The franchise relocated to the Tri-Cities initially as the New Westminster Bruins and later changed its name to the “Americans” in 1988. The Americans have advanced to the WHL finals one time in their tenure in the Tri-Cities, where they lost to the Calgary Hitmen 4-1 during the 2009–10 season. The Americans currently play at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Washington.

The Tri-City Dust Devils are a Single A, short-season minor league baseball team that is an affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The Dust Devils came to the Tri-Cities in 2001, relocating from Portland and changing the team’s name from the Portland Rockies to the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Dust Devils took over as the primary tenants of Gesa Stadium, which previously housed the Tri-City Posse. The Dust Devils have been the Northwest League East Division Champions three times in their history in the Tri-Cities, namely 2007, 2009 and 2011.

From 2005 to 2016, there was also professional indoor football team called the Tri-Cities Fever. “The Fever” came to the Tri-Cities in 2005 as an expansion team for the National Indoor Football League. Since then, the Fever switched to the AF2 in 2007, and then to the Indoor Football League in 2009. The Fever, housed in the Toyota Center in Kennewick, have won one division title and one league championship. The Fever won the Indoor Bowl in 2005 as a member of the NIFL, and in 2012 they were the Intense Division champions in the IFL where they ultimately lost the United Bowl Championship game to the Sioux Falls Storm. During the 2012 season, the Fever were awarded the 2012 IFL Franchise of the Year. In 2016, the Fever announced they would go dormant.

Shopping

Columbia Center Mall
Columbia Center Mall Entrance
  • The Columbia Center Mall is a shopping center in Kennewick that is operated by Simon Property Group. The mid-size indoor shopping mall is a signature spot of the Tri-Cities metropolitan area and the largest regional mall in Southeastern Washington attracting shoppers from as far as Oregon. JCPenney, Macy’s, Old Navy, and Sears anchor the center while Maurice's, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks Coffee, and an eight-screen Regal Cinema Theater create an entertaining complex representing fashion apparel, jewelry, shoes, beauty products, and home appliances.

Apricot Lane Boutique, Bath & Body Works, Coach, and Victoria’s Secret highlight a group of over 150 shopping, dining, and entertainment options including a food court and a vibrant kid friendly play area. Recent additions include an attached open-air walking mall including Chico’s, LOFT, and some of the local community’s top dining areas like Mizu Sushi & Roll and Twig’s Bistro and Martini Bar also contribute to the all-in-one destination.

Theater

The Richland Players Theater
The Richland Players Theater located at 608 The Pkwy, Richland, WA 99352.
  • The Richland Players Theater has offered live performances annually for over 70 years. Originally known as The Village Players, the theater group was created in 1944 to bring music, laughter, and cultural opportunities to the local community as a goal to raise morale for the Hanford workers. Today, the theater has more than 7,500 attendees annually attracting audiences from across the region such as Spokane, Yakima, and Walla Walla. The theater also serves the local community by bringing local retirees to shows and accommodating the visually and hearing impaired (with the participation of non-profit United Blind).
Inside View of the Bechtel Planetarium, Pasco WA
Interior of the Bechtel Planetarium, Pasco
  • The Bechtel National Planetarium is on the campus of Columbia Basin College in Pasco. Three retired astronauts attended the grand opening in December 2012: Charlie Duke, Story Musgrave, and John Phillips. The 36-foot (11 m) dome allows a 180° view overhead. Erin Steinert, Planetarium Outreach Specialist said, "It is the largest digital theater in the state of Washington; it seats the most people." The planetarium offers, among other things, information about "black holes, telescopes, stars, planets, or human cells" during public shows on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and during pre-arranged private events. K–12 field trips are free of charge.

Events

Major annual events in the Tri-Cities are varied and occur throughout the year:

  • Cool Desert Nights - classic car show held in Richland in June. Attracts visitors from throughout the northwest.
  • Tri-Cities Water Follies - annual unlimited hydroplane racing and air shows including the Columbia Cup, held on the Columbia River in July. The Tri-Cities Water Follies is a popular event held annually in the Tri-Cities. In 2012, it marked its 47th year, bringing in over 60,000 tourists and $2,250,000 in visitor spending to the area. Attractions include:
The Pit at the Columbia Cup
Photo taken from the pit at the Tri-Cities Water Follies
Boat race
A boat racing in the Columbia Cup during the Tri-Cities Follies

The Columbia Cup Hydroplane race, • The Miss Tri-cities Beauty Pageant, • The Grand Prix West Hydro Race, • The Fluor Gold Tournament, • The Over the River Air show, • A vintage hydroplane show, • A Kids Zone full of activities for children. The main event at the Tri-Cities Water Follies is the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, one of six Unlimited Hydroplane races in the American Power Boat circuit. Through a unique propulsion system, the boats skip along the water only briefly making contact at speeds up to 220 miles per hour (350 km/h). Visitors to the area have the option to venture into the pit and see the hydros up close.

  • Allied Arts Show - annual art show held Richland's Howard Amon Park, in July.
  • Benton/Franklin Fair - annual, regional fair held at Kennewick fairgrounds in late August.
  • Hogs and Dogs – annual car and motorcycle rally in West Richland, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the Northwest
  • An annual renaissance fair is held at Howard Amon Park in Richland the last weekend of June along the Columbia River at Howard Amon Park. Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire features historically accurate costumes and Elizabethan English, as well as many vendors. Every November, Food Network Stars, World Class Wines, and local restaurants come together for Savor the Flavor, a 2-Day Bite and Sip event at TRAC in Pasco. The event is produced by TASTE Tri-Cities magazine as a benefit for Modern Living Services.
  • Radcon is a fan run Science-Fiction / Fantasy convention held annually in Pasco. it is the second largest con of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and growing every year. The staff is all-volunteer made up of sci-fi, fantasy and cos-play enthusiasts. Volunteers very active in the local community are welcomed to be trained to participate and host in the event. The convention is held every year in February and is open to the general public. Family and friends, hobbyists, cosplayers, nerds, geeks, and even those who are simply curious can come and enjoy a complete spectrum of events including Guests of Honor in multiple categories such as writing, film and art, panels, table-top, card game and computer gaming, dealers room, art auction and more.
TCTattooConvention2013
Live tattooing at the 2013 Three Rivers Tattoo Convention
  • The city of Kennewick hosts several events year round at the Three Rivers Convention Center. One such event held in late September is the Annual Tattoo Convention which was first introduced to the area in 2010. This annual gathering is a weekend long event and attracts thousands of people from the surrounding regions. Over 60 booths from all across the west coast were displayed in the most recent 2013 Tattoo Convention. The Annual Tattoo Convention provides people with an opportunity to showcase their art and also receive new tattoos. Live tattooing and tattoo contests are featured events held throughout the convention, and local tattoo shops including Monarch Tattoo, 13 Shades, and Hoops Body Arts have all established tattooing stations at past conventions. Other highlighted entertainment at the event includes hypnosis shows, acrobatic acts, belly dancing, and educational seminars.
  • Pasco Flea Market - One of the most interesting cultural stops in the Tri-Cities is the Pasco Flea Market, a popular stop for many individuals from the region. The Pasco Flea Market is
    Flea Market Vendor
    Flea Market Vendor
    located on 200 East Lewis Place in Pasco, Washington. The Pasco Flea Market offers a range of cuisines and merchandise including traditional Mexican food to clothing items, small trinkets and toys for children, clothing and apparel, animals like kittens, puppies and birds, cookware, tech devices and accessories, video games, and seasonal agricultural items. One such unique offering is Tejuino, a Mexican drink that can only be found locally at the Pasco Flea Market. A multitude of food vendors present their take on Mexican dishes, including burritos, menudo, tacos, conchitas, pozole, tamales, while other vendors offer affordable merchandise and items for sale. The Pasco Flea Market is open from 10am until 4pm on Saturday’s and opens again on Sunday’s from 6am until 4:30pm. The market’s season opens officially on March 1 and remains open publicly accessible until December 1. The market averages about 350 different vendors, which is about the maximum capacity the market can hold. On a single Sunday, the market sees between 3000 and 5000 people walk through its aisles.

Culture and demographics

Culture

Historically, the culture in Tri-Cities has been dominantly associated with Hanford and with a parallel agriculture emphasis. While these aspects of the Tri-Cities culture are locked place in Tri-Cities history, the culture is evolving to incorporate urbanization characteristics by embracing its small business roots that stemmed from Hanford. This culture progression is happening through a generational change in demographics, which is the result of being one of the fastest growing population bases in the northwest.

A movement by local businesses and community members to reveal the growing desire to adapt Tri-Cities to its emerging urban placement within the northwest has been progressing and is beginning to yield results towards creating a more vibrant urban culture in the region. The region’s history of Hanford is shifting through ongoing growth in the region’s wine industry and food processing, which is being joined by the growth in the region’s health care industry. The accompanying shift in culture is diversifying the economy and has created an economic base for outside developers and industries to see the Tri-Cities growth as a legitimate region for investment opportunities, since the Tri-Cities is one of the last urbanely undeveloped cities in the northwest. Along with numerous other regional communities, the culture in Tri-Cities is moving in the direction of craft foods (breweries, distilleries, mobile eateries, coffee), progressing fine arts and an emphasis on outdoor recreation with natural preservation.

Demographics

Historical combined population of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1910 3,652
1920 5,325 45.8%
1930 5,223 −1.9%
1940 6,078 16.4%
1950 42,143 593.4%
1960 52,314 24.1%
1970 55,422 5.9%
1980 86,403 55.9%
1990 94,807 9.7%
2000 125,467 32.3%
2010 181,756 44.9%
Est. 2016 232,740 85.5%

Kennewick

As of April 1, 2014, the population of Kennewick was estimated at 77,700 according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the 2010 census, there were 73,917 people, and by census estimates of 2000, 20,786 households, and 14,176 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,384.9 people per square mile (920.9/km²). There were 22,043 housing units at an average density of 961.2 per square mile (371.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.93% White, 1.14% Black or African American, 0.93% Native American, 2.12% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 9.4% from other races, and 3.37% from two or more races. 15.55% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 20,786 households out of which 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.6 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.6% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,213, and the median income for a family was $50,011. Males had a median income of $41,589 versus $26,022 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,152. About 9.7% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Pasco

As of April 1, 2014, the population of Pasco was estimated at 67,770, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the census of 2010, there were 59,781 people, and according to the 2000 census results, 9,619 households, and 7,262 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,141.9 people per square mile (440.9/km²). There were 10,341 housing units at an average density of 368.2 per square mile (142.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.76% White, 3.22% African American, 0.77% Native American, 1.77% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 37.44% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 56.26% of the population.

There were 9,619 households out of which 45.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.30 and the average family size was 3.79.

In the city the population was spread out with 35.5% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,540, and the median income for a family was $37,342. Males had a median income of $29,016 versus $22,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,404. About 19.5% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.

Richland

As of April 1, 2014, the population of Richland was estimated at 52,090, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division.

As of the census of 2010, there were 48,058 people, and according to the 2000 census, 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 per square mile (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 or Latino 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.

Consolidation vs. staying "The Tri-Cities"

Over the years, the cities have had difficulty establishing and projecting an identity that would attract and sustain business, tourism, and growth beyond the Hanford-related business sector. Much of this stems from the fact that the individual cities each have populations less than 80,000, and do not have much of a presence on their own. Additionally, the cities must compete independently to draw business, tourism, and establish an identity. In an effort to address this concern, there have been repeated efforts to consolidate all four cities into one united incorporated area. The idea driving this movement is that one larger city would create the presence needed to draw increased attention and focus to the region. As noted above, if the Tri-Cities were to consolidate into one city, it would become the fourth largest in the state, behind Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. To date, motions to consolidate have repeatedly failed.

Residents of West Richland and newcomers to the area often suggest that the area rename itself, since there are obviously four main cities in the Tri-Cities. This suggestion is usually shunned by residents of the other cities. "Quad-Cities" doesn't sound as good, the name is already associated with one specific Mississippi River community (though Tri-Cities is not exactly a unique name), West Richland has a far smaller presence compared to the three major cities, and there are other small cities in the area, as well. The name "Three Rivers" has recently come to be used more for the area (from the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers), yet is not unique, either.

West Richland is particularly struggling with a regional identity. It is often mistakenly considered to be just a part of Richland rather than an entirely separate community. It has considered renaming itself "Red Mountain" in an attempt to distinguish itself from Richland, as well as considering consolidating with the city of Richland. Additionally, the western half of the city of Pasco (locally referred to as West Pasco) has considered secession, in order to distinguish itself from the older, poorer part of town to the East. These considerations provide further complications with respect to consolidation and the "Tri-Cities" name.

Small town vs. big city

One of the current debates in the Tri-City area is whether to try to maintain a small-town feel or to embrace its growth and become a larger metropolitan area. One of the focal points of this debate is whether to allow the surrounding Horse Heaven Hills to be subdivided into residential areas or to leave them alone. Although many of the mid to older generations would like to maintain the hills' natural beauty, housing is already starting to cover the hills.

Cities in the metro area

The Tri-Cities Metro Area has a population of over 262,500 people.

50,000+ people

10,000 - 50,000 people

1,000 - 10,000 people

Fewer than 1,000 people

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