Kennewick is a city in Benton County in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Washington, near the Hanford nuclear site. It is the most populous of the three cities collectively referred to as the Tri-Cities (the others being Pasco and Richland). Kennewick is located along the southwest bank of the Columbia River, opposite Pasco and just south of the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima rivers. The population was 73,917 at the 2010 census. April 1, 2012 estimates from the Washington State Office of Financial Management put the city's population at 75,160.
The nearest commercial airport is the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco, a regional commercial and private airport.
Forbes magazine named Kennewick the #2 area in the United States for job growth, while nearby Yakima was named #1. The article cites the number of scientists employed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and area farmland for this outlook.
Kennewick Man is the name for the remains of a prehistoric man found on a bank of the Columbia River in 1996. The remains are notable for their age (some 9,300 years), and also for having Caucasoid features, despite being indigenous. Ownership of the bones has been a matter of great controversy.
The name "Kennewick" is believed to be a native word meaning "grassy place." It has also been called "winter paradise," mostly because of the mild winters in the area. In the past, Kennewick has also been known by other names. Arguably the strangest was "Tehe" which was allegedly attributed to the reaction from a native girl's laughter when asked the name of the region.
During the 1880s, steamboats and railroads connected what would become known as Kennewick to the other settlements along the Columbia River. In 1887, a temporary railroad bridge was constructed by the Northern Pacific Railroad connecting Kennewick and Pasco. That bridge could not endure winter ice on the Columbia and was partially swept away in the first winter. A new, more permanent bridge was built in its place in 1888. Until this time, rail freight from Minneapolis to Tacoma had to cross the river via ferry.
In the 1890s, the Northern Pacific Irrigation Company installed pumps and ditches to bring water for agriculture in the Kennewick Highlands. Once there was a reliable water source, orchards and vineyards sprung up all over the Kennewick area. Strawberries were another successful crop.
Kennewick was officially incorporated on February 5, 1904. In 1912, there was an unsuccessful bid to move the seat of Benton County from Prosser to Kennewick.
In 1915, Kennewick was connected to the Pacific Ocean with the opening of the Dalles-Celilo Canal.