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Pullman, Washington
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
Bryan Tower on the Pullman WSU campus at twilight
Nickname(s): The Lentil Capital
Motto: -
The location of Pullman in Washington
The location of Pullman in Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Whitman
 • Total 9.88 sq mi (25.59 km2)
 • Land 9.88 sq mi (25.59 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 2,352 ft (717 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 29,799
 • Estimate (2015) 32,816
 • Density 3,016.1/sq mi (1,164.5/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 99163-99165
Area code 509
FIPS code 53-56625
GNIS feature ID 1531905

Pullman 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, estimated to have reached 31,682 in 2014. Originally incorporated as Three Forks, the city was later renamed after industrialist George Pullman.

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

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 beauty of the area.


About five years after European-American settlers established Whitman County on November 29, 1871, Bolin Farr arrived here, camping in 1876 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 located here as Three Forks. In the spring of 1881, Orville Stewart opened a general store and Bolin Farr platted about 10 acres (40,000 m2) of his land for a town.

Pullman was incorporated 134 years ago in 1886 with a population of about 200 people. 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.

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 located 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.

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 supervisor.


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; and College Hill, north of Main Street and east of North Grand Avenue.

The WSU campus is located on College Hill, and part of the area is an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic character of College Hill is manifest in its many early-twentieth century craftsman-style bungalows and two streets which retain their original red brick paving. See Red Brick Roads of Pullman, Washington (NE Palouse St./NE Maple St.).

Companies associated with an expanding high-tech industry are located at the north end of the city, anchored by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL). The lab company was founded by Edmund Schweitzer, a Ph.D. graduate of WSU. SEL and other firms are located within the 107-acre (0.43 km2) Pullman Industrial Park, run by the Port of Whitman County.


The Pullman School District consists of the following:

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

Pullman High School (PHS) is attended by about 700 students, and is the city's only public high school. It is located 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 area community colleges, such as Spokane Falls Community College.

Washington State University

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

Geography and climate

Pullman is located at 46°43′59″N 117°10′19″W / 46.733°N 117.172°W / 46.733; -117.172 (46.733, -117.172). at an elevation of 2,352 ft (717 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.88 square miles (25.59 km2), all of it land. The water supply is a natural aquifer. The surrounding region, called the Palouse prairie, or simply the Palouse, is noteworthy for its fertile rolling hills where winter and spring wheat, barley, lentils, and peas are grown.

Palouse hills northeast of Walla Walla
Surrounding Palouse hills


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 warm, 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 averages 21 inches (530 mm) of precipitation throughout the year. The warmest month is August with an average daily high of 82 degrees (27.8 °C), while January is the coldest month with an average daily high of 35 degrees (1.67 °C).

Precipitation is highly seasonal. Virtually no precipitation occurs between June and September, while the period of mid November through mid March commonly receives snowfall. Rain, though sporadic, is mostly recorded during the transitional seasons. December and January are the snowiest months, respectively, averaging 7.80 inches and 7.09 inches each. Areas of snowpack accumulate every winter and frequently last into March before melting entirely. Snowfall can also occur in the transitional months of October and April, though it is uncommon and usually melts within a day.

Climate data for Pullman, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 24
Record low °F (°C) −29
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.46
Snowfall inches (cm) 7.09
Source: The Weather Channel


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 868
1900 1,308 50.7%
1910 2,602 98.9%
1920 2,440 −6.2%
1930 3,322 36.1%
1940 4,417 33.0%
1950 12,022 172.2%
1960 12,957 7.8%
1970 20,509 58.3%
1980 23,579 15.0%
1990 23,478 −0.4%
2000 24,675 5.1%
2010 29,799 20.8%
Est. 2015 32,816 10.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
2015 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,799 people, 11,029 households, and 3,898 families residing 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 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 census of 2000, there were 24,675 people, 8,828 households, and 3,601 families residing 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:

  • 83.10% White
  • 8.48% Asian
  • 3.40% from two or more races
  • 2.40% African American
  • 1.58% from other races
  • 0.67% Native American
  • 0.38% Pacific Islander

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.


Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport

Pullman is served by the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport located 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Pullman and 4 miles (6.4 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. Pullman is also served by Pullman Transit which provides service for many students of the university who do not live on campus and also provides service to the residents of Pullman. WSU students can get on the bus by showing their student ID card, as all students pay a fee for use of the bus system which is included in their fees when attending WSU.

Additional information

Bloomberg Businessweek chose Pullman in 2011 as the "Best Place to Raise Kids" in Washington. Factors include affordability, a family-friendly lifestyle, the quality of Pullman High School, the presence of Washington State University, and the natural beauty of the area. Neighboring Moscow in Idaho received the same recognition for that state.

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 on the August weekend before fall semester classes start at WSU.

Pullman is the sister city of Kasai, Hyōgo, Japan.

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