Pullman, Washington

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Pullman, Washington
The Lentil Capital
HIGH Tech, HIGHER Education, HIGHEST Quality of Life
Whitman County Washington Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Pullman Highlighted.svg
The location of Pullman in Washington
Coordinates: 46°43′53″N117°10′47″W / 46.73139°N 117.17972°W / 46.73139; -117.17972
CountryUnited States
State Washington
County Whitman
Incorporated April 11, 1888
Named for Was named Three Forks, for the three creeks which form South Fork Palouse River. Renamed Pullman on July 4, 1881 for the railroad car.
  Type Strong Mayor–Council
   Mayor Francis Benjamin
  Total11.12 sq mi (28.81 km2)
  Land11.12 sq mi (28.81 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
2,352 ft (717 m)
 (2020) [4]
(2022) [5]
  Density2,920/sq mi (1,128/km2)
Time zone UTC–8 (Pacific (PST))
  Summer (DST) UTC–7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
99163, 99164
Area code 509
FIPS code 53-56625
GNIS feature ID1531905 [3]
Website pullman-wa.gov

Pullman is the most populous city in Whitman County, located in southeastern Washington within the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. The population was 32,901 at the 2020 census, [4] and estimated to be 32,508 in 2022. [5] Originally founded as Three Forks, the city was renamed after industrialist George Pullman in 1884. [6]


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.

Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight WSU BryanTower.jpg
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight


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. [7] 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. [6]

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. [8] [9]

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 Palouse hills northeast of Walla Walla.jpg
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 11.12 square miles (28.8 km2), all land. [2] The city is in the eastern part of Whitman County in southeastern Washington, approximately 65 miles (105 km) south of Spokane and 32 miles (51 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. [10] This prairie region, the Palouse, is noteworthy for its fertile rolling hills where winter and spring wheat, barley, canola, 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 is named for the Pullman Military College that opened its doors in 1891 and burned down in 1893. [11]


Pullman has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). This climate is typified by hot, dry summers followed by cold, wet winters with short transitional seasons in between. Due to the rain shadow effect 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 20.41 inches (518 mm) of precipitation. [12]

Climate data for Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport, Washington (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1893–present [lower-alpha 1] )
Record high °F (°C)59
Mean maximum °F (°C)49.8
Mean daily maximum °F (°C)37.6
Daily mean °F (°C)32.7
Mean daily minimum °F (°C)27.8
Mean minimum °F (°C)7.4
Record low °F (°C)−29
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.67
Average snowfall inches (cm)9.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)14.011.512.311.
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)
Source 1: NOAA [12]
Source 2: National Weather Service [14]


Historical population
1890 868
1900 1,30850.7%
1910 2,60298.9%
1920 2,440−6.2%
1930 3,32236.1%
1940 4,41733.0%
1950 12,022172.2%
1960 12,9577.8%
1970 20,50958.3%
1980 23,57915.0%
1990 23,478−0.4%
2000 24,6755.1%
2010 29,79920.8%
2020 32,90110.4%
2022 (est.)32,508 [5] −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census [15]
2020 Census [4]

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. [16]

2020 census

As of the 2020 census, there were 32,901 people, 12,185 households, and 4,640 families in Pullman. [17] [18] The population density was 3,010.4 per square mile (1,162.3/km2). There were 13,645 housing units at an average density of 1,248.5 per square mile (482.1/km2). [18] [19] The racial makeup was 69.61% (22,903) white or European American (67.0% non-Hispanic white), 3.45% (1,134) black or African-American, 0.68% (225) Native American or Alaska Native, 10.73% (3,529) Asian, 0.41% (134) Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian, 4.13% (1,359) from other races, and 10.99% (3,617) from two or more races. [20] Hispanic or Latino of any race was 10.81% (3,556) of the population. [21]

Of the 12,185 households, 19.5% had children under the age of 18; 27.9% were married couples living together; 31.9% had a female householder with no spouse or partner present. 37.7% of households consisted of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. [18] The average household size was 2.2 and the average family size was 2.9. [22]

13.1% of the population was under the age of 18, 45.7% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 10.6% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.3 males. [18] For every 100 females ages 18 and older, there were 101.6 males. [18]

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, 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

As of the 2000 census, 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:

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

In the city, the age distribution of the population was as follows:

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. [23] [24]

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. [25] [24] The lab company was founded by Edmund Schweitzer, a Ph.D. graduate of WSU. [26] SEL and other firms are within the 107-acre (0.43 km2) Pullman Industrial Park, run by the Port of Whitman County. [27]

Pullman Regional Hospital opened on Bishop Boulevard in late 2004; [28] [29] its predecessor, Pullman Memorial Hospital, was on the WSU campus and shared facilities with the student health center. [28] [30]



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. [31]


College sports are popular in Pullman; most support is centered on the Washington State Cougars who compete in the Pac-12 Conference in NCAA Division I. [32] 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: [33]

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

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.



View from west of Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport MoscowPullmanAirport.jpg
View from west of Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport

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


  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. [13]

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  2. 1 2 "2023 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  3. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pullman, Washington
  4. 1 2 3 "Explore Census Data". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  5. 1 2 3 "City and Town Population Totals: 2020–2022". United States Census Bureau. February 21, 2024. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
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  9. "New name near for State College". Spokane Daily Chronicle. August 5, 1959. p. 18.
  10. Busacca, A.J., 1989. Long Quaternary record in eastern Washington, U.S.A., interpreted from multiple buried paleosols in loess. Geoderma. 45:105-122.
  11. O'English, Mark (2011). "Pullman's Military College". Whitman County Historical Society. Retrieved March 21, 2020.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  13. ThreadEx
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  26. "About SEL".
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  29. Nelson, Lorraine (April 19, 1998). "New Pullman hospital aimed at efficiency". Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1E.
  30. Sudermann, Hannelore (Spring 2005). "The end of an era". Washington State. Retrieved April 19, 2020.{{cite magazine}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  31. "Home".
  32. "WSU Cougars" . Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  33. "Pullman Public School District #267 / Homepage". Psd267.org. July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2012.

Further reading