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Walla Walla, Washington

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Country  United States
County  Walla Walla
Time zone  Pacific (PST) (UTC−8)
Local time  Friday 1:54 PM
State  Washington
Elevation  942 ft (287 m)
Area code  509
Zip code  99362
Walla Walla, Washington wwwwallawallaorgwpcontentuploads201507home

Weather  18°C, Wind SW at 42 km/h, 27% Humidity
Points of interest  Fort Walla Walla, Whitman Mission National, Kirkman House, Pioneer Park, Seven Hills Winery

Walla Walla is the largest city in and the county seat of Walla Walla County, Washington, United States.


Map of Walla Walla, WA 99362, USA

The population of the city itself was 31,731 at the 2010 census. The population of Walla Walla and its two suburbs, the town of College Place and unincorporated "East Walla Walla," is about 45,000. Walla Walla is in the southeastern region of Washington, approximately four and a half hours away by car from Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, and thirteen miles north of the Oregon border.


Recorded history in this state begins with the establishment of Fort Nez Perce in 1818 by the North West Company to trade with the Walla Walla people and other local Native American groups. At the time, the term "Nez Perce" was used more broadly than today, and included the Walla Walla in its scope in English usage. Fort Nez Perce had its name shift to Fort Walla Walla. It was located significantly west of the present city.

On September 1, 1836, Marcus Whitman arrived with his wife Narcissa Whitman. Here they established the Whitman Mission in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the local Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. Following a disease epidemic, both were killed by the Cayuse who believed that the missionaries were poisoning the native peoples. Whitman College was established in their honor.

The original North West Company and later Hudson's Bay Company Fort Nez Percés fur trading outpost, became a major stopping point for migrants moving west to Oregon Country. The fort has been restored with many of the original buildings preserved. The current Fort Walla Walla contains these buildings, albeit in a different location from the original, as well as a museum about the early settlers' lives.

The origins of Walla Walla at its present site begin with the establishment of Fort Walla Walla by the United States Army here in 1856. The Walla Walla River, where it adjoins the Columbia River, was the starting point for the Mullan Road, constructed between 1859 and 1860 by US Army Lieut. John Mullan, connecting the head of navigation on the Columbia at Walla Walla (i.e., the west coast of the United States) with the head of navigation on the Missouri-Mississippi (that is, the east and gulf coasts of the U.S.) at Fort Benton, Montana.

Walla Walla was incorporated on January 11, 1862. As a result of a gold rush in Idaho, during this decade the city became the largest community in the territory of Washington, at one point slated to be the new state's capital. Following this period of rapid growth, agriculture became the city's primary industry.

Former bishopric

In 1846, the Catholic Church established the Diocese of Walla Walla, with Augustin-Magloire Blanchet as its bishop. (The Latin adjective, not the noun, used by the Roman Curia to refer to Walla Walla, is Valle-Valliensis.) Blanchet arrived on September 5 of that year, but the Whitman massacre of November 29, 1847, led to an uneasy relationship between him, the native Cayuse people, and the United States government, as a result of which he left for St. Paul in the Willamette Valley.

In 1850, the see of Walla Walla was abandoned and its territory assigned to the new Diocese of Nesqually (later spelled "Nisqually"), with Blanchet as its bishop and its episcopal see in Vancouver.

Titular see

In 1971, the diocese was nominally restored as Titular bishopric of the lowest (Episcopal) rank, and since had six, mostly consecutive incumbents:

  • Eugene Antonio Marino, Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Josephites, S.S.J.) (1974.07.12 – 1988.03.14) (later Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta)
  • Bernard William Schmitt (1988.05.27 – 1989.03.29)
  • Paul Albert Zipfel (1989.05.16 – 1996.12.31)
  • James Edward Fitzgerald (2002.01.11 – 2003.09.11)
  • Mitchell Thomas Rozanski (2004.07.03 – 2014.06.19)
  • Witold Mroziewski, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn (NYC, USA) (2015.05.19 – ...)
  • Etymology

    Tourists to Walla Walla are often told that locals call it "the town so nice they named it twice". Walla Walla is a Native American name that means "Place of Many Waters". The original name of the town was Steptoeville named after Colonel Edward Steptoe. In 1855 the name was changed to Waiilatpu, and then by 1859 had been changed again, this time to the name it holds today.

    Geography and climate

    Walla Walla is located at 46°3′54″N 118°19′49″W (46.065094, −118.330167).

    Walla Walla is also located in the Walla Walla Valley, with the rolling Palouse hills and the Blue Mountains to the east of town. Various creeks meander through town before combining to become the Walla Walla River, which drains into the Columbia River about 30 miles (48 km) west of town. The city lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, so annual precipitation is fairly low.

    According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.84 square miles (33.26 km2), of which 12.81 square miles (33.18 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2) is water.

    Walla Walla has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate according to the Köppen climate classification system (Köppen Csa). It is one of the northernmost locations in North America to qualify as having such a climate. In contrast to most other locations having this climate type in North America, Walla Walla can experience fairly cold winter conditions.

    2010 census

    As of the census of 2010, there were 31,731 people, 11,537 households, and 6,834 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,477.0 inhabitants per square mile (956.4/km2). There were 12,514 housing units at an average density of 976.9 per square mile (377.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.6% White, 2.7% African American, 1.3% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 9.1% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.0% of the population.

    There were 11,537 households of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.8% were other forms of households. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.10.

    The median age in the city was 34.4 years. 22% of residents were under the age of 18; 14.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.2% were from 25 to 44; 23.1% were from 45 to 64; and 14% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.9% male and 48.1% female.

    2000 census

    As of the census of 2000, there were 29,686 people, 10,596 households, and 6,527 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,744.9 people per square mile (1,059.3/km2). There were 11,400 housing units at an average density of 1,054.1 per square mile (406.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.79% White, 2.58% African American, 1.05% Native American, 1.24% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 8.26% from other races, and 2.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.42% of the population.

    There were 10,596 households of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were other forms of households. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.08.

    In the city, the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 14.2% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 108.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.1 males.

    The median income for a household in the city was $31,855, and the median income for a family was $40,856. Men had a median income of $31,753 versus $23,889 for women. The per capita income for the city was $15,792. About 13.1% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.8% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those aged 65 and older.


    Though wheat is still a big crop, vineyards and wineries have become economically important over the last three decades. In summer 2006, there were over 100 wineries in the greater Walla Walla area. Following the wine boom, the town has developed several top-tier restaurants and hotels. The Marcus Whitman Hotel, one of Washington's finest 1920s hotels, was renovated with original fixtures and furnitures. It is the tallest building in the city, at thirteen stories.

    The Walla Walla Sweet Onion is another crop with a rich tradition. Over a century ago on the Island of Corsica, off the west coast of Italy, a French soldier named Peter Pieri found an Italian sweet onion seed and brought it to the Walla Walla Valley. Impressed by the new onion's winter hardiness, Pieri, and the Italian immigrant farmers who comprised much of Walla Walla's gardening industry, harvested the seed. The sweet onion developed over several generations through the process of selecting onions from each year's crop, targeting sweetness, size and round shape. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion is designated under federal law as a protected agricultural crop. In 2007 the Walla Walla Sweet Onion became Washington's official state vegetable. Walla Walla Sweet Onions get their sweetness from low sulfur content, which is half that of an ordinary yellow onion. Walla Walla Sweets are 90 percent water.

    The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival is held annually in July.

    Walla Walla currently has two farmers markets, both held from May until October. The first is located on the corner of 4th and Main, and is coordinated by the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. The other is at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds on S. Ninth Ave, run by the WW Valley Farmer's Market.

    Wine industry

    Walla Walla has experienced an explosion in its wine industry over the last ten years. Several of the wineries have received top scores from wine publications such as Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate and Wine and Spirits. L'Ecole 41, Woodward Canyon and Leonetti Cellar were the pioneers starting in the 1970s and 1980s. Although most of the early recognition went to the wines made from Merlot and Cabernet, Syrah is fast becoming a star varietal in this appellation. Today there are over 100 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley and a host of shops catering to the wine industry.

    Walla Walla Community College offers an associate degree (AAAS) in winemaking and grape growing through its 10-year-old Center for Enology and Viticulture, which operates its own commercial winery, College Cellars.

    One challenge to growing grapes in Walla Walla Valley is the risk of a killing freeze during the winter. They average one every six or seven years and the penultimate one, in 2004, destroyed about 75% of the wine grape crop in the valley. The valley was again hit with a killing frost in November 2010, leading to a 28% decline in Cabernet Sauvignon production, a 20% decline in red grape production, and an overall decline in production of 11% (red and white varietals).

    The wineries generate over $100 million (US) to the valley annually.


    Walla Walla Distilling Company is the first distillery in the county. The production includes both vodka and several whiskies. The distillery is located close to the industry park near Walla Walla Regional Airport. The production and sales has been rapidly increasing since the distillery was established.

    Corrections industry

    The second largest prison in Washington, after nearby Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell, is the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) located in Walla Walla, at 1313 North 13th. Originally opened in 1886, it now houses about 2000 offenders. In addition, there are about 1000 staff members. In 2005, the financial benefit to the local economy was estimated to be about $55 million through salaries, medical services, utilities, and local purchases. Washington is a death penalty state, and occasional executions take place at the state penitentiary; the last execution took place on September 10, 2010. Washington is also one of two states to still allow hanging as a choice when sentenced to death (the other being New Hampshire); there has not been a hanging since May 1994 (the default method of execution was changed to lethal injection in 1996). The penitentiary is undergoing an extensive expansion project that will increase the prison capacity to 2,500 violent offenders and double the staff size.

    Health Care

    Walla Walla is served by three health care institutions: Walla Walla General Hospital (part of the Adventist Health System), St. Mary Medical Center (part of the Catholic Providence Heath System) and the Jonathan M. Wainwright Veteran's Affairs (VA) Medical Center on the grounds of the old Fort Walla Walla.


    Transportation to Walla Walla includes service by air through Walla Walla Regional Airport and highway access primarily from U.S. Route 12. The Washington State Department of Transportation is now engaged in a long-term process of widening this road into a four-lane divided highway between Pasco and Walla Walla. State Route 125 runs through the city, north to State Route 124 in Prescott and south to Milton-Freewater, Oregon, becoming Oregon Highway 11 at the state line.

    There are four major bus services in the area connecting the region's cities. Walla Walla and nearby College Place, WA are served by Valley Transit, a typical multi-route city bus service. The city of Milton-Freewater, OR has a single-line bus service with several stops in town with two stops in College Place and five in Walla Walla. Travel Washington's Grape Line is a 104-mile (167 km) intercity service between Walla Walla and Pasco that runs three times a day. Finally, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation operates a Kayak bus to Pendleton, with four trips each weekday and two trips each Saturday via its Walla Walla Whistler route.


    Walla Walla is home of the Walla Walla Sweets, a summer collegiate baseball team that plays in the West Coast League. The league comprises college players and prospects working towards a professional baseball career. Teams are located in British Columbia, Oregon and Washington. Sweets home games have been played at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla, since their first season in 2010. In only their second season the Sweets played in the WCL Championship game, ultimately losing to the Corvallis Knights. In 2013, the Sweets won their first North Division title with the second best win-loss record in the WCL. Unfortunately, the Sweets lost their North Division playoff series to the Wenatchee Applesox that year.

    There also is a women's flat track roller derby league called the Walla Walla Sweets Rollergirls, their practices and games are played at the Walla Walla YMCA.

    Walla Walla is the location of Tour of Walla Walla. It is an annual four-stage road cycling race held in April. The races are held in Walla Walla and in the Palouse hills of nearby Waitsburg, WA. The stages include two road races, a time trial, and a criterium race.

    Finally, there is the annual Walla Walla Marathon which includes a full marathon, half-marathon, and 10k race. The full marathon is a Boston Marathon Qualifier. It is held in October of each year and the race route winds through the streets of the city of Walla Walla and the country roads outside of town, often running past several of the region's many estate vineyards.

    Fine and performing arts

    The Walla Walla Valley boasts a number of fine and performing arts organizations and venues.

  • The Walla Walla Valley Bands were formed in 1989 and currently boasts a Concert Band of more than 70, two Jazz Ensembles, Sax Quartet and Jazz Trio. The group provides the large group music ensembles for Walla Walla Community College and rehearses there weekly on Tuesday nights.
  • The Walla Walla Symphony began in 1906 and performs a season of about six concerts per year at Whitman College's Cordiner Hall.
  • The Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival is held twice a year and features guest musical ensembles playing classical chamber music in various small venues throughout town. The summer festival includes performances for almost the whole month of June. The winter festival is a small-scale version of the summer program, it is held in mid-January.
  • Shakespeare Walla Walla is a non-profit organization that hosts a summer Shakespeare festival in Walla Walla. They often bring Shakespeare troupes from Seattle and elsewhere to perform about four plays per year. In the past this was done at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater, but more recently at the GESA Powerhouse Theatre.
  • The GESA Powerhouse Theatre opened in 2011 in Walla Walla; it was originally the Walla Walla gas plant, hence its name. Its dimensions closely resemble the Blackfriars Theatre once used by William Shakespeare. The venue is used by Shakespeare Walla Walla as well as host to various concerts and other performing arts events throughout the year.
  • The Little Theatre of Walla Walla began in 1944 and moved into its current building on Sumach St. in 1948 where it has performed various plays to this day.
  • The Walla Walla Choral Society began in 1980 and performs a season of three or four concerts per year in various locations around the Walla Walla Valley.
  • Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater is an open-air stage with bench seating on the grounds of the Fort Walla Walla Park, next to Fort Walla Walla Museum. It used to host Shakespeare Walla Walla productions and now hosts the Walla Walla Community College Summer Musical.
  • In addition, the area's three colleges—Whitman College, Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College as well as its largest public high school—Walla Walla High School—are well known for their outstanding theater and music performances.


    Walla Walla is primarily served by the Walla Walla Public Schools, which includes six elementary schools, two middle schools, one traditional high school (colloquially Wa-Hi), and one alternative high school (Lincoln). There is also Homelink, an alternative K-8 education program which is a hybrid of home schooling and public school programs.

    There are several private Christian schools in the area. These include:

  • The Walla Walla Catholic Schools (Assumption K-8 School and DeSales High School)
  • Liberty Christian School, non-denominational
  • Rogers Adventist School and Walla Walla Valley Academy, in nearby College Place, WA, both of Seventh-day Adventist affiliation
  • Saint Basil Academy of Classical Studies [1] (K-8)
  • In addition to these, there are three colleges in the area:

  • Walla Walla Community College, co-winner of the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
  • Whitman College, an independent liberal arts college
  • Walla Walla University, in nearby College Place, Washington, affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination
  • Miscellanea

    Baker Boyer Bank, the oldest bank in the state of Washington, was founded in Walla Walla in 1869.

    In 2001 Walla Walla was a Great American Main Street Award winner for the transformation and preservation of its once dilapidated main street. In July 2011, USA Today selected Walla Walla as the friendliest small city in the United States. Walla Walla was also named Friendliest Small Town in America the same year as part of Rand McNally's annual Best of the Road contest. In 2012 and 2013 Walla Walla was a runner-up in the best food category for the Best of the Road.

    Walla Walla is famous for its sweet onions. There are more than 100 wineries in or near Walla Walla.

    Sister cities

    In 1972, Walla Walla established a sister city relationship with Sasayama, Japan. The two cities have since named roads after their counterpart sister city. Walla Walla also hosted exchange students from Sasayama since 1994 for a two-week home stay experience. One year high school student exchanges between the cities have occurred several times in the past. Cultural/art exchanges involving music, dance, and various art mediums have also occurred. Walla Walla Sister City Committee has been recipient of the Washington State Sister City Association Peace Prize in 2011 and 2014 for their involvement of promoting peace, cultural understanding and friendship.

    Notable people

  • Burl Barer, broadcaster, author and strong social media presence, was a 1965 graduate of Walla Walla High School.
  • NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe lived in Walla Walla while he was in high school before entering Washington State University in 1990. He was the first pick in the NFL draft in 1993, going to the New England Patriots, where he played until 2001. He later played for the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys before retiring in 2007.
  • Walter Brattain, Nobel Prize winner and co-inventor of the transistor, was an alumnus of Whitman College and later a professor there.
  • Wallace R. Brode, scientist, was born in Walla Walla in 1900.
  • Robert Brode, physicist and a key figure in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, was born in Walla Walla in 1900.
  • Robert Clodius, educator and acting President of University of Wisconsin–Madison was born in Walla Walla.
  • Alex Deccio, politician, was born in Walla Walla.
  • Softball pitcher Eddie Feigner toured the country with a four-man team, known as "The King and His Court," playing before large crowds and being hailed as "the greatest softball pitcher of all time." He was born in Walla Walla.
  • Silent film actor and studio makeup artist Bert Hadley was born in Walla Walla.
  • NFL wide receiver Charly Martin was born in Walla Walla in 1984.
  • Edward P. Morgan, journalist who worked for CBS, ABC, PBS and for various newspapers.
  • Lebanese poet, writer and philosopher Mikha'il Na'ima, author of "The Book of Mirdad", began his writing career in Walla Walla in 1919.
  • Eric O'Flaherty- relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves was born in Walla Walla and attended Walla Walla High School.
  • American counterculture poet and publisher Charles Potts.
  • Actress Hope Summers, known for films and The Andy Griffith Show, was raised in Walla Walla.
  • Actor Connor Trinneer, best known for his role in Star Trek: Enterprise, was born in Walla Walla.
  • United States Army general and World War II hero Jonathan Wainwright was born in Walla Walla.
  • Ferris Webster, Oscar-nominated film editor, was born in Walla Walla.
  • Actor Adam West, known for his role in the 1960s Batman TV series, grew up in Walla Walla. Then known as Bill Anderson, he attended Walla Walla High School during his freshman and sophomore years before moving with his family to Seattle. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and a minor in Psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla.
  • Hamza Yusuf, Islamic scholar, was born in Walla Walla.
  • Dairyman Bill Koenig, who is in the Dairyman's Hall of Fame, used a farm owned by Walla Walla College near Walla Walla, OR.
  • References

    Walla Walla, Washington Wikipedia