AskDefine | Define Yakima

Dictionary Definition

Yakima n : a town in south central Washington

Extensive Definition

Yakima () is a city in central Washington and the county seat of Yakima County, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 71,845 and a metropolitan population of 229,094. Yakima is situated in the Yakima Valley, which is noted for being one of the best apple-producing areas in the world, and produces approximately 75% of all hops grown in the USA . The name originates from the Yakama Nation. The Yakama Indian Reservation is located to the south and southeast of the city of Yakima. Because of the sunny climate relative to the rest of the state, a local developer erected a sign at the edge of the city that proclaims Yakima as "The Palm Springs of Washington".


The Yakama people were the first 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 Yakama Indian War of 1855. The U.S. Army established Fort Simcoe in 1856 near present-day Toppenish as a response to the uprising. The Yakamas were defeated and forced onto 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 20.6 square miles (53.4 km²), of which, 20.1 square miles (52.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (2.33%) is water. Yakima is 344.392 meters above mean sea level.

Yakima region

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. Other nearby cities include Moxee, Tieton, and Naches in the Upper Valley, as well as Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah, Harrah, White Swan, Granger, Mabton, Sunnyside, and Grandview in the Lower Valley. As of 2006, the estimated population of the metropolitan area is 233,105.

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 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.



As of the census of 2000, there were 71,845 people with 26,498 households, and 16,826 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,569.9 people per square mile (1,378.0/km²). There were 28,643 housing units at an average density of 1,423.2/sq mi (549.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.77% White, 1.99% African American, 2.00% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 21.97% from other races, and 3.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 33.70% of the population.
There were 26,498 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.4% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,475, and the median income for a family was $34,798. Males had a median income of $29,647 versus $23,629 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,920. About 17.1% of families and 22.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.3% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.


Cultural activities and events take place throughout the year. The Yakima Valley Museum houses exhibits related to the region’s geology and history, a restored soda fountain, and periodic special exhibitions. Downtown Yakima’s historic Capitol Theater and Seasons Performance Hall, as well as the Westside’s Warehouse Theater, present numerous musical and stage productions. 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, the City of Yakima received the All-America City Award, given by the National Civic League. Because only ten U.S. cities receive this award per year, Yakima's status was greatly boosted by this momentous occasion. Many people now consider Yakima a very magnanimous city.


  • Central Washington State Fair - at State Fair Park, held each fall in late September.
  • Yakima Folklife Festival, held the second week of July in Franklin Park.
  • Yakima Farmer’s Market, on Sundays from May to October in Downtown Yakima.
  • Fresh Hop Ale Festival, each October in Downtown Yakima.


The Yakima SunDome currently is the host of the 2A/1A girls' high school state volleyball championships in the fall and the 1A/1B boys' & girls' high school state basketball championships in the winter. Yakima County Stadium presently hosts the 2B/1B boys' high school state baseball championships each spring.


Roads and highways

Interstate 82 is the primary way of reaching Yakima, but U.S. Route 12 crosses through the city from White Pass. U.S. Route 97 joins I-82 from Yakima for approximately 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.


Yakima's airport, McAllister Field, operates commercial air flights via Horizon Airlines to Seattle and Delta Connection operated by SkyWest to Salt Lake City. Numerous private aircraft call the Yakima Airport home and several freight companies operate out of the airport. It is also a popular test site for military jets.


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. 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.
The abandonment by retailers and other businesses of Yakima's downtown core is symbolic of the city's overall economic downturn. In the last five years, three major department stores and an entire shopping mall have closed for business. While several theories to "revitalize" the city's downtown have been put forth by civic leaders, none has proven effective. Presently, a hotel has been constructed in the place of the abandoned mall. The retail core of the city has now shifted to the city 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. 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 Japan Ground Self Defence Force conducts training annually in Yakima. Japanese soldiers train in Yakima because it allows for large-scale live fire maneuvers not available in Japan.
While there has been an economic downturn in downtown Yakima in recent years, the first phase of the Downtown Futures Initiative is nearly complete. The DFI has provided for a street to storefront remodel along Yakima Avenue throughout the entire downtown core, and includes new pedestrian-friendly lighting, water fountains, planters, banner poles, new trees and hanging baskets, all of which complement the new paver-inlaid sidewalks.
The early 2000s have seen the return to the downtown of the Sports Center Tavern, a local landmark, as well as the opening of The Hilton Garden Inn, The Speakeasy Bar, Grill & Nightclub, Kana Winery, Donitelia Winery, Yakima Cellars Winery, Seasons Performance Hall, Essencia Bakery, De Siga Gallery, and The Barrel House. Developers are aiming for an early 2008 completion for condominiums in the Bon Marche building of the former Yakima Mall.
The 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, a weekly Farmers' Market, and the Hot Shots 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
One tourist attraction is a pair of historic trolleys that operates each summer along five miles (8 km) of tracks of the former Yakima Valley Transportation Company through the Yakima Gap connecting Yakima and Selah.


The city of Yakima is served in the field of education by six high schools (four public, two private) and three colleges (one community college, one technical institute, and one medical school). The two main high schools are Davis High School and Eisenhower High School. They are both division 4A high schools with about 2000 students each.
The next biggest school is West Valley High School, a division 3A school with the total student population numbering about 1200.
On the outskirts of the east side is East Valley High School, a 2A School numbering about 900 or so students.
Christa McAuliffe Academy, and it's Washington ALE Public School ACHIEVE Online, offer World-Wide K-12 on-line education from their offices in Yakima. Christa McAuliffe Academy was founded to honor the "first teacher in space", and the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. Students and staff at Christa McAuliffe Academy are actively engaged in carrying on what Christa started: education that ventures beyond the normal boundaries and empowers the drive for discovery of things unknown. They salute Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan, the teacher-turned-astronaut on the August 8, 2007 flight of the Space Shuttle Endevaour, as great role models.
Yakima also boasts two smaller, private schools. La Salle High School, located in Union Gap, is a Catholic high school in the 2B division and enrolls about 200 students. Riverside Christian School is a private Christian school that enrolls students from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade. Riverside Christian is also a 2B school with students in grades 9-12 numbering about 150. There are also a number of alternative high schools in Yakima offered to students for various reasons such as Stanton Academy and O.I.C. Alternative.
Located in the middle of Yakima is the Yakima Valley Community College, otherwise known as YVCC. Yakima Valley Community College is one of the oldest community colleges in the state of Washington. Founded in 1928, the college has a long tradition of quality in teaching and in its commitment to students. Yakima Valley Community College is a public, two-year institution of higher education which is a part of one of the best comprehensive community college systems in the nation. As such, the college offers programs in adult basic education, English-as-a-second-language, lower division arts and sciences, professional and technical education, and community services. Yakima Valley Community College employs a talented and dedicated faculty whose primary interest is in delivering the best possible instruction to students.
Perry Technical Institute, or Perry Tech, is another school of higher learning located in the city. Students there can learn trades such as refrigeration and electrical engineering.
Construction has begun on a new osteopathic medical school, named Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences The facility will be located on a 30 acre campus in the Terrace Heights area. It is expected to open in the fall of 2008.





Notable current and former residents

Media References

In an episode of iCarly, Grandpa comes to take Carly to Yakima (where he lives) because he thinks Spencer (Carly's brother) has not been responsible with Carly.
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.
A legendary Chicken-Wolf-Moose-Pig sighted in the Yakima Valley in 1978 (as stated on the side of the cereal box) known as the "Bigg Mixx" inspired Kellogg's cereal to design a brand "Bigg Mixx" cereal no longer in production (1990-91 only).

Sister cities


Further reading

External links

Yakima in Arabic: ياكيما، واشنطن
Yakima in Bulgarian: Якима
Yakima in Danish: Yakima
Yakima in German: Yakima (Washington)
Yakima in Spanish: Yakima (Washington)
Yakima in French: Yakima (Washington)
Yakima in Dutch: Yakima
Yakima in Polish: Yakima
Yakima in Portuguese: Yakima
Yakima in Simple English: Yakima, Washington
Yakima in Swedish: Yakima
Yakima in Volapük: Yakima
Yakima in Chinese: 雅基馬
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