On the Yakima River at the geographic center of the great Yakima Valley, the town owes its growth to the development of the surrounding region, where approximately 500,000 acres of irrigated land historically produced bountiful crops of fruits, vegetables, hops, hay, and alfalfa.
Almost ringed by sage-covered hills, the city lies upon level ground except for elevations in some of the suburban areas. Along broad Yakima Avenue is the main business district, its modern buildings interspersed here and there with surviving nineteenth century structures. North to south on Front Street, the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad bisect the city.
Along the tracks, a swarm of produce-processing and packing plants, refrigerated warehouses, and related enterprises crowd upon the pulsing artery of Produce Row, center of Yakima’s prosperity, which extends for more than a mile and a half. Here, from midsummer to late fall, the handling and processing of hops, cherries, peaches, pears, apples, and other small fruits is big business. Packing houses sort, pack, and store the hops, fruits and vegetables that have made Yakima’s name familiar the world over.
It is a trading center for a wide area. The settlement started in 1861 at the north entrance of the valley at Union Gap and later moved to the present site. It was incorporated as Yakima City on December 1, 1883.
When the Northern Pacific Railway Company failed to secure concessions from the town in 1884 (then at the present location of Union Gap) they established a station four miles west (at the current Yakima location) and moved over one hundred buildings from the former Yakima City (now Union Gap) to the new town free of charge. The new town was called North Yakima. On January 1, 1918, the Washington State Legislature changed the name of North Yakima to Yakima, and the name of Yakima City to Union Gap. With subsequent growth, the two places have joined boundaries.