Richland Laundry and Alphabet Homes

Color photograph of a medium-sized industrial building with smoke rising from multiple vents
This laundry facility was a busy place offering an important service during the Manhattan Project.


Quick Facts
Richland, WA

Today, Richland Laundry looks much like it did during the Manhattan Project. Nearby, you’ll find the buildings of downtown Richland that served secret city residents. The laundry, retail stores, restaurants, and theater were purposely located within walking distance of the alphabet homes so residents could easily walk from their homes to drop off the laundry, shop, go out to eat, and enjoy a movie.    

The laundry could not keep up with the busy secret city’s high demand for laundry services. In 1944, the Richland Bulletin informed readers that "the local Laundry (sic) cannot promise less than ten to twelve days service" for clothes washing or dry-cleaning service. This information was part of a larger article explaining how "laundries throughout the country are being taxed to the limit" due to wartime demand. This strain fell particularly hard on Richland, a boomtown whose population increased from approximately 250 to 15,000 people over the course of the war.  
The carefully planned community of Richland was designed to be comfortable and livable for the professional workers that the Manhattan Project most needed to retain. Hanford was segregated by both race and profession. The men (Black and White) who built Hanford’s facilities predominately lived in the temporary housing at the Hanford Construction Camp. Many Black workers also lived in the segregated community of East Pasco. East Pasco lacked many of the most basic city services such as sidewalks, sewer system, and public parks, while their neighbors and co-workers in Richland lived in an idyllic intentionally planned community.   


Continue Your Journey

From here you can walk to the nearby alphabet homes and downtown Richland to get a sense of what life was like in Richland during the Manhattan Project. While downtown, you can see such sites as The Greenway (Richland Parkway), the hub of commerce and social life during the Manhattan Project, CC Anderson’s Department Store (Roma House), Richland’s only department store during WWII, and the Richland Players Theater, which was the local movie theater at the time. 

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Last updated: July 5, 2023