Pullman, Washington

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Pullman, Washington
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
The Lentil Capital
HIGH Tech, HIGHER Education, HIGHEST Quality of Life -
The location of Pullman in Washington
The location of Pullman in Washington
Coordinates: 46°44′N 117°10′W / 46.733°N 117.167°W / 46.733; -117.167Coordinates: 46°44′N 117°10′W / 46.733°N 117.167°W / 46.733; -117.167
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedApril 11, 1888
 • TypeStrong Mayor–Council
 • MayorGlenn Johnson
 • Total10.93 sq mi (28.31 km2)
 • Land10.93 sq mi (28.31 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
2,352 ft (717 m)
 • Total29,799
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,157.29/sq mi (1,219.01/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code509
FIPS code53-56625
GNIS feature ID1531905[5]

Pullman (/ˈpʊlmən/) is the largest city in Whitman County, located in southeastern Washington state within the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. The population was 29,799 at the 2010 census, and estimated to be 34,506 in 2019.[6] Originally founded as Three Forks, the city was renamed after industrialist George Pullman in 1884.[7]

Pullman is noted as a fertile agricultural area known for its many miles of rolling hills and the production of wheat and legumes. It is home to Washington State University, a public research land-grant university, and the international headquarters of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Pullman is eight miles (13 km) from Moscow, Idaho, home to the University of Idaho, and is served by the Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport.


In 1876, about five years after European-American settlers established Whitman County on November 29, 1871, Bolin Farr arrived in Pullman. He camped at the confluence of Dry Flat Creek and Missouri Flat Creek on the bank of the Palouse River. Within the year, Dan McKenzie and William Ellsworth arrived to stake claims for adjoining land. They named the first post office here as Three Forks. In the spring of 1881, Orville Stewart opened a general store and Bolin Farr platted about 10 acres (4.0 ha) of his land for a town.[citation needed]

Pullman was incorporated on April 11, 1888, with a population of about 250–300 people.[8] It was originally named Three Forks, after the three small rivers that converge there: Missouri Flat Creek, Dry Fork, and the South Fork of the Palouse River. In 1884, Dan McKenzie and Charles Moore (of Moscow) replatted the site and named it for American industrialist George Pullman.[7]

On March 28, 1890, the Washington State Legislature established the state's land grant college, but did not designate a location. Pullman leaders were determined to secure the new college and offered 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land for its campus. Idaho Territory had established its land grant college in 1889; the University of Idaho was to be in neighboring Moscow. On April 18, 1891, the site selection commission appointed by Washington's governor chose Pullman. On January 13, 1892, the institution opened with 59 students under the name Washington Agricultural College and School of Science. It was renamed the State College of Washington in 1905, more commonly known as "Washington State College," and became Washington State University in 1959.[9][10]

In 1961, Pullman became a non-chartered code city under the mayor–council form of government. The city has an elected mayor with an elected seven-member council and an appointed administrative officer, the city administrator.


The hilly terrain of the Palouse, which surrounds Pullman

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Pullman has a total area of 9.88 square miles (25.59 km2), all of it land.[11] The city is in the eastern part of Whitman County in southeastern Washington, approximately 65 miles (105 km) south of Spokane and 22 miles (35 km) north of Lewiston, Idaho.

The city is situated across several loess hills which characterize the Palouse Prairie, formed from windblown sediment over an estimated period of over one million years.[12] This prairie region, the Palouse, is noteworthy for its fertile rolling hills where winter and spring wheat, barley, lentils, and peas are grown. These hills provide a variety of elevations across the city, from 2342 to 2575 ft (714 to 785 m) above sea level. Downtown Pullman is situated in a valley between these hills. Within the Pullman city limits, the Missouri Flat Creek and Paradise Creek both join the South Fork of the Palouse River. Pullman sits in the watersheds of the Snake River and the Columbia River.

Pullman is situated across four major hills which divide the city into nearly equal quarters. These are:

  • Military Hill, north of the Palouse River and west of North Grand Avenue
  • Pioneer Hill, south of Main Street and the downtown area, and east of South Grand Avenue
  • Sunnyside Hill, south of Davis Way and west of South Grand Avenue
  • College Hill, north of Main Street and east of North Grand Avenue

Military Hill is named for the Pullman Military College that opened its doors in 1891 and burned down in 1893.[13]


Pullman's climate is classified as dry-summer humid continental (Köppen Dsb), using the 0° threshold for mean coldest winter month; it nearly qualifies as having a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). This climate is typified by hot, dry summers followed by cold, snowy winters with short transitional seasons in between. Owing to the protective nature of the Cascade Range to its west, clear skies occur regularly throughout the year and rainfall is drastically less frequent in comparison to cities west of the mountains. Clouds of any variety are especially scant between June and September, which contributes to a diurnal temperature variation that is much higher during the summer compared to winter. Pullman has an annual average of 16.9 inches (430 mm) of precipitation.[14] The normal monthly mean temperature ranges from 30.1 °F (−1.1 °C) in December to 65.7 °F (18.7 °C) in August.[14] The lowest temperature recorded in Pullman is −32 °F (−36 °C) on December 30, 1968, while the highest is 110 °F (43 °C) on August 4, 1961.[14]

Climate data for Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport, Washington (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1893–present[a])
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 60
Average high °F (°C) 36.5
Average low °F (°C) 26.7
Record low °F (°C) −29
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.82
Source: NWS[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)34,506[4]15.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]

In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek selected Pullman as the "Best Place to Raise Kids" in Washington. Factors included affordability, safety, a family-friendly lifestyle, the quality of Pullman High School, the presence of Washington State University, and the natural environment of the area.[17]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 29,799 people, 11,029 households, and 3,898 families living in the city. The population density was 3,016.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,164.5/km2). There were 11,966 housing units at an average density of 1,211.1 per square mile (467.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 79.3% White, 2.3% African American, 0.7% Native American, 11.2% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 11,029 households, of which 17.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.5% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 64.7% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the city was 22.3 years. 11.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 51.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.7% were from 25 to 44; 10.5% were from 45 to 64; and 4.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.3% male and 48.7% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 24,675 people, 8,828 households, and 3,601 families living in the city. The population density was 2,740.8 people per square mile (1,058.6/km2).

The racial makeup of the city was:

Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.86% of the population.

The 2000 Census found 9,398 housing units at an average density of 1,043.9 per square mile (403.2/km2). There were 8,828 households, out of which:

  • 59.2% were non-families
  • 33.0% were married couples living together
  • 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals
  • 20.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them
  • 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present
  • 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older (included in the 31.1% of households made up of individuals)

The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city, the population was spread out as follows:

  • 13.1% under the age of 18
  • 49.4% from 18 to 24
  • 22.8% from 25 to 44
  • 10.3% from 45 to 64
  • 4.5% who were 65 years of age or older.

The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females, there are 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,652, and the median income for a family was $46,165. Males had a median income of $36,743 versus $29,192 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,448. About 15.3% of families and 37.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 3.6% of those age 65 or over.


Washington State University is the largest employer in both Pullman and Whitman County.[18][19]

As part of the Palouse Knowledge Corridor, companies associated with an expanding high-tech industry are at the city's north end, anchored by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), the largest private employer in the region.[20][19] The lab company was founded by Edmund Schweitzer, a Ph.D. graduate of WSU.[21] SEL and other firms are within the 107-acre (0.43 km2) Pullman Industrial Park, run by the Port of Whitman County.[22]

Pullman Regional Hospital opened on Bishop Boulevard in late 2004;[23][24] its predecessor, Pullman Memorial Hospital, was on the WSU campus and shared facilities with the student health center.[23][25]



Since 1989, Pullman has been home to the National Lentil Festival, a major community event celebrating the lentil legume grown in the surrounding Palouse region. The festival includes a lentil cook-off, Friday night street fair, Saturday parade and music in the park, and more. It is held in Reaney Park on the August weekend before fall semester classes start at WSU.[26]


College sports are popular in Pullman, with most support centered on the Washington State Cougars who compete in the Pac-12 Conference in NCAA Division I.[27] The football team plays at Martin Stadium, and their in-state rivals are the Washington Huskies, with whom the Cougars play an annual rivalry game, the Apple Cup. The women's and men's basketball teams play at Beasley Coliseum, and the baseball team at Bailey–Brayton Field. Moobery Track hosts track and field, and historic Bohler Gymnasium (1928) is the home of women's volleyball. The challenging 18-hole Palouse Ridge Golf Club opened in 2008, an overdue upgrade of the nine-hole WSU course.

The Greyhounds of Pullman High School compete in WIAA Class 2A in District Seven. Historic rivals are the Clarkston Bantams to the south and the Moscow Bears, in adjacent Idaho.


The Pullman School District consists of the following schools:[28]

  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Sunnyside Elementary School
  • Kamiak Elementary School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Pullman High School

The city's only public high school, Pullman High School (PHS) has about 700 students. It is on Military Hill. Its mascot for its athletic teams is the greyhound. PHS offers honors and advanced placement courses, along with Running Start course work through WSU and Spokane Falls Community College.

Washington State University[edit]

Pullman is the site of the flagship campus of Washington State University (WSU), a member of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12) in NCAA Division I. WSU is the second-largest university in the state of Washington, and is well known for its veterinary medicine, business, architecture, engineering, agriculture, pharmacy, and communications schools.


Pullman is located near the junction of several major highways. U.S. Route 195 and State Route 27 travel north towards the Spokane area, passing through various towns in the Palouse, while State Route 270 follows the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail to Moscow, Idaho.

Pullman is served by the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport two miles (3 km) east of Pullman and four miles (6.5 km) west of Moscow. Horizon Air offers four flights daily from Pullman-Moscow to Seattle and four flights daily from Seattle to Pullman-Moscow. Shuttle service to Spokane International Airport is available. Major bus routes, including Greyhound, pass through Pullman.

The city is also served by Pullman Transit, which provides bus service for residents and WSU students who do not live on campus. WSU students are able to ride without fares by presenting their student ID card, as the university includes a transit fee in tuition.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Official records for Pullman were maintained at two locations near the city from January 1893 to June 6, 1998, and, since June 7, 1998, have been kept at Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport. Data coverage at the two pre-airport locations was more sporadic.[15]


  1. ^ "Pullman City Code". codepublishing.com. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Washington: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019". United States Census Bureau. May 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Washington: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019". United States Census Bureau, Population Division. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Stories to Tell". Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Bush, Julia. "Pullman Early History 1871-1892" (PDF). Pullman Early History. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "New name for WSC near O.K." Spokane Daily Chronicle. February 4, 1959. p. 2.
  10. ^ "New name near for State College". Spokane Daily Chronicle. August 5, 1959. p. 18.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  12. ^ Busacca, A.J., 1989. Long Quaternary record in eastern Washington, U.S.A., interpreted from multiple buried paleosols in loess. Geoderma. 45:105-122.
  13. ^ O'English, Mark (2011). "Pullman's Military College". Whitman County Historical Society. Retrieved March 21, 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ a b c d "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  15. ^ ThreadEx
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  17. ^ Bloomberg Businessweek, December 14, 2010
  18. ^ "About Pullman". Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Pullman is open for business!". Pullman Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  20. ^ "Palouse Knowledge Corridor". Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  21. ^ https://www.selinc.com/aboutSEL/our_roots/[bare URL]
  22. ^ "Pullman Industrial Park". Port of Whitman County. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Dupler, Michelle (December 16, 2004). "Ready for business". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. p. 1A.
  24. ^ Nelson, Lorraine (April 19, 1998). "New Pullman hospital aimed at efficiency". Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1E.
  25. ^ Sudermann, Hannelore (Spring 2005). "The end of an era". Washington State. (alumni). Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  26. ^ "Home".
  27. ^ "WSU Cougars". Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  28. ^ "Pullman Public School District #267 / Homepage". Psd267.org. July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • MacGibbon, Elma (1904). "Columbia River and Pullman". Leaves of knowledge (DJVU). Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection. Shaw & Borden.

External links[edit]