kids encyclopedia robot

Yakima, Washington facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
City of Yakima
Yakima as viewed from Lookout Point
Yakima as viewed from Lookout Point
Official seal of Yakima
The Palm Springs of Washington; The Heart of Central Washington
Location of Yakima in Washington
Location of Yakima in Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Yakima
Incorporated December 10, 1883
 • 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%
1,066 ft (325 m)
 • City 91,067
 • Estimate 
 • Rank US: 331st
 • Density 3,350.5/sq mi (1,293.6/km2)
 • Urban
129,534 (US: 248th)
 • Metro
248,830 (US: 188th)
Time zone UTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
Zip Code
98901, 98902, 98903, 98904, 98907, 98908, 98909
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-80010
GNIS feature ID 1509643

Yakima (/ˈjækmɑː/ or /ˈjækmə/) is a U.S. city located about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Mount Rainier in Washington. Yakima is the county seat of Yakima County, Washington, and the state's eleventh 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. The unincorporated suburban areas of West Valley and Terrace Heights are considered a part of greater Yakima.

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. The name Yakima originates from the Yakama Nation, located south of the city.


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. A Catholic Mission was established in Ahtanum, southwest of present-day Yakima, in 1847. 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. 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). Annual average snowfall is 21.7 inches or 0.55 metres, with most occurring in December and January, when the snow depth averages 2 to 3 inches or 0.051 to 0.076 metres. There are 22 afternoons per year in which the high does not surpass freezing, and 2.3 mornings where the low is 0 °F (−17.8 °C) or lower. 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 (19.4 °C), sometimes reaching as high as 50 °F (27.8 °C) during that season; there are 34 afternoons of 90 °F (32.2 °C)+ highs annually and 3.2 afternoons of 100 °F (37.8 °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 or 209 millimetres annually, is low year-round, but especially during summer. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −25 °F (−31.7 °C) on February 1, 1950, to 110 °F (43.3 °C) on August 10, 1971.

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
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.13
Snowfall inches (cm) 5.5
Avg. 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
Avg. 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)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,535
1900 3,154 105.5%
1910 14,082 346.5%
1920 18,539 31.7%
1930 22,101 19.2%
1940 27,221 23.2%
1950 38,486 41.4%
1960 43,284 12.5%
1970 45,588 5.3%
1980 49,826 9.3%
1990 54,827 10.0%
2000 71,845 31.0%
2010 91,067 26.8%
Est. 2015 93,701 2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
2015 Estimate

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% Caucasian, 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. 19.1% of the population had a bachelor's degree or higher.

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 had 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. On November 3, 2015, three Hispanic candidates were elected to the city council for the first time in history. In addition to the redistricting ordered by the court, the Democratic Party conducted an aggressive door-to-door campaign to increase voter turnout in the Hispanic majority districts.


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, held the second week of July at Franklin Park.
  • Fresh Hop Ale Festival, held each October in Downtown Yakima.
  • A Case of the Blues and All That Jazz, held in August in Sarg Hubbard Park.


The Sun Dome was home to the Warriors and Sun Kings.
  • The Yakima Mavericks are a Minor League football team in the Pacific Football League and plays at Marquette Stadium.
  • The Yakima Beetles American Legion baseball team, 3-time World Champions.
  • The Yakima Valley Pippins are a collegiate wood bat baseball team that play in the West Coast League.
Former professional teams
  • The Yakima Valley Warriors were an indoor football team. Play ended 2010
  • The Yakima Sun Kings was a Continental Basketball Association franchise that won 5 CBA championships and disbanded in 2008.
  • The Yakima Bears minor league baseball team, moved to Oregon after the 2011 season.
  • The Yakima Reds American soccer team played in the USL Premier Development League disbanded in 2010.


Roads and highways

Yakima Welcome Sign
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.


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

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.


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.

Sister cities

Yakima's sister cities are:

kids search engine
Yakima, Washington Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.