Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Yakima is a the county seat of Yakima County located in central Washington. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 71,845. Yakima is situated in the Yakima Valley, which is noted for being one of the best apple producing areas in the world as well as a prime location for hops production. The name originates from the Yakama tribe, which has its reservation approximately 20 miles south of the city.
Suburbs include Selah, West Valley (debated -- see below), Moxee, Union Gap, Wapato, Toppenish, and White Swan.
The Yakama people were the first inhabitants of the Yakima Valley. In 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition came to the valley and discovered abundant wildlife and rich soil, prompting the settlement of homesteaders. A Catholic Mission was established in Ahtanum, southeast 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 1886 near present day Toppenish as a response to the uprising. The Yakamas were defeated and forced onto the Yakama Indian Reservation.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 71,845 people, 26,498 households, and 16,826 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,378.0/km² (3,569.9/mi²). There are 28,643 housing units at an average density of 549.4/km² (1,423.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 33.70% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 26,498 households out of which 34.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% are married couples living together, 14.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% are non-families. 30.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.63 and the average family size is 3.29.
In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $29,475, and the median income for a family is $34,798. Males have a median income of $29,647 versus $23,629 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,920. 22.4% of the population and 17.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.3% of those under the age of 18 and 12.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Yakima is a minor-league level sports city that is home to the Yakima Bears baseball team of the short season class A Northwest League and the Yakima Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association.
Interstate 82 is the primary way of reaching Yakima, but U.S. Highway 12 uses the city as a terminus. U.S. Highway 97 joins I-82 at Yakima for approximately 40 miles. Washington State Route 24 terminates at Yakima and is the primary means of reaching Moxee and many of the area's agriculturial areas. Washington State Route 821 terminates at Yakima and is referred to locally as "Canyon Road" because it passes through the Yakima River canyon. It is an alternate route to Ellensburg that bypasses the I-82 summit of Manastash Ridge.
Like many cities, Yakima has developed over the past century because of agriculture. The Yakima Valley has many fruit crops, including apples, peaches, pears, cherries, melons and a variety of vegetables like peppers, corn, beans etc. The economy has been very dependent upon agriculture, with very few other industrial enterprises. Because of a lack of other business enterprises and a large portion of the county being government-owned (Yakima Firing Center; Yakama Nation; DNR and BLM land) the tax base is small and the needs large. Many of the city's earliest and latest 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 latest agricultural product to gain some popularity is grapes and wine production.) A large influx of Spanish speaking people who come from impoverished backgrounds has added pressure to social services and schools and demands for more use of the Spanish language. Earlier immigrants were more likely to adopt English as their primary language upon arrival to the Valley.
Like many metropolitan areas, Yakima’s downtown has been decimated by consumers finding other outlets in which to shop, forcing retailers to leave the downtown area. In early 2004, the Yakima Mall ceased all operations and closed as it’s last retailer moved out. Many residents are shopping in connected town of Union Gap due to stragegic planning by Union Gap leaders, lower prices, ease of parking in the area, and a booming economy. A challenge for the city of Yakima is to once again attract residents who care about the city itself. Promoting the idea of local government 'buying into' downtown Yakima might help, as would school, college, and other government investments in the downtown area. Like other metropolitan areas around the country, the process must begin with visionary leadership and tax breaks for those who would choose invest in infrastructure downtown. So far, there has been very little commitment to the task. With a city manager close to retirement not much vision or change is expected. Also downtown mall owner is considered by many not helpful by those trying to build a positive future for the downtown area.
Most of West Valley is in an unincorporated part of the county, but threats of independent incorporation have led the city to annex major parts of the area. This has led to severe ill-feelings among some of the area’s residents. Some of the West Valley residents like the city services.
The Wal*Mart corporation is looking to install a second store in the West Valley area. This is a hotly discussed issue, with comments ranging from “It provides more choice for customers” and “The area needs the jobs the store will create” to “Wal*Mart is notorious for not treating its workers well”, “The store will create unneeded traffic congestion”, and “It will harm already struggling local businesses”. As a result, the company’s newly-acquired land (formerly part of the Congdon Orchards, a major agricultural facility in the area) has seen water rights and environmental challenges. No one has come up with an option to purchase the land so as to prevent the Wal-Mart development.
Approaching the city from the east on Interstate 82, one can see a sign which says "Yakima: The Palm Springs of Washington" prominently displayed. This sign is privately owned, thus no governmental agency can take action against it. The sign is a source of both hilarity and scorn within the area . The owner of course knows of the sign’s issues, but insists he likes the sign and refuses to remove it.
Official City Website
Yakima Herald-Republic, the area's principal newspaper.
Yakima Valley Community College, the area's prominent institution of higher learning.
Yakima Valley Regional Library (hosts local information in printed form)
Yakima Valley Museum
Photographs of the area from the library and local museum presented online.
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