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Richland City

Benton County, Washington

Richland City Hall is located at 625 Swift Boulevard, Richland, WA 99352.
Phone: 509-942-7390.

Homes in the Gold Coast Historic District

Photo: Homes in the Gold Coast Historic District, Richland, Washington. Typical homes were built in the late 1940s. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Photographed by user:Jon Roanhaus (own work), 2007, [cc-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed September, 2021.


The City of Richland [†] lies at the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia Rivers, in the geographic region known as the Mid-Columbia Basin. Richland and the nearby communities of Pasco and Kennewick are commonly called the Tri-Cities. The Yakima River delta has shaped the City's growth into two areas, the north and south sides of the City.

Due to its location, Richland enjoys access to water and natural resources. The Columbia and Yakima Rivers provide water for irrigation of nearby farmland as well as for domestic use. They offer a variety of opportunities for the City, such as open spaces, recreation systems, parks, and waterfront developments.

Native Americans lived at the mouth of the Yakima River, which they called the Tapteal, in an area that is known as Richland today.

Richland falls within the Southern Plateau, part of the larger Columbia Plateau culture area. The Yakima-Columbia confluence has a rich archaeological record, with sites in the area attributed to all of the Southern Plateau cultural phases. The area has been occupied more or less continuously for the last 10,000 years. There are many recorded archaeological sites within a mile of the confluence. National Register-listed properties include the Columbia Point area, Bateman Island, and the Tri-Cities Archaeological District.

In 1943, Richland was a small farming town of about 300 residents. In that year, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan Engineer District purchased most of the area for a massive project to produce plutonium. The federal government planned and built a complete community to serve this project, including schools, housing, and parks. Two years later, Richland residents working at the new Hanford Nuclear Reservation produced the plutonium fuel for America's first nuclear detonation and for the second nuclear bomb used in World War II. By the end of World War II, the population in Richland swelled to 21,000 persons.

For 15 years, only employees of the Hanford Reservation could live in the town that the federal government built. After several years of discussion at both the local and federal levels, the federal government began the process of turning Richland into a self- governing city. Citizens were able to purchase their government-owned houses and Richland was incorporated as a first-class Washington city in 1958. The federal government began to sell the prefabricated housing erected for Hanford workers, which had been intended to be temporary. Much of that housing was renovated and remains in use today.

In addition to prefabricated homes, Alphabet Homes were built in Richland between 1943 and 1951. The Alphabet Homes were based on a series of house plans denoted by a letter in the alphabet (an A house, an F house, etc.).

† City of Richland Washington, Comprehensive Plan, 2017, www.ci.richland.wa.us, accessed September, 2021.