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Farming was the basis of virtually every sector of the economy in the early years.
Each city borders either another city or one of the area's rivers, making the Tri-Cities seem like one uninterrupted mid-sized city.It did not have a daily newspaper or radio station until the mid-1940s.Even today, agriculture is a big part of the Tri-Cities, Pasco in particular.Pasco was the first of the Tri-Cities to be incorporated, in 1891.Kennewick was incorporated in 1904, and Richland followed in 1910.Every time the federal government cut funding at Hanford, thousands of talented, credentialed people would suddenly become jobless and quickly leave for other jobs.
During this time, other employers slowly made their way into the area, but they too would often be forced to cut jobs in the bad times.The combined population of the three major cities was 193,567, whereas the population of the metropolitan area was 253,340 at the 2010 Census.As of April 1, 2016, the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division estimates the cities proper as having a population of 232,740 and the metropolitan area having a population of 279,170, thus making it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Washington, after Seattle-Tacoma, Spokane, and Vancouver.West Richland was founded by dissatisfied residents of Richland, who wished to be home owners rather than renters of government-owned houses, after the arrival of Hanford.Despite attempts by Richland to annex the community, they remained separate and eventually became incorporated in 1955.During the 1970s, Kennewick overtook Richland as the largest city (population-wise) of the three and has not surrendered the title since.