Olympia is the capital of the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat and second-largest city of Thurston County. Take a look below for 25 fun and fascinating facts about Olympia, Washington, United States.
1. It is 60 miles (100 km) southwest of Seattle, the state’s most populous city, and is a cultural center of the southern Puget Sound region.
2. European settlers claimed the area in 1846, with the Treaty of Medicine Creek initiated in 1854, followed by the Treaty of Olympia in 1856.
3. Olympia was incorporated as a town on January 28, 1859, and as a city in 1882.
4. It had a population of 46,479 at the 2010 census, making it the state’s 24th-largest city.
5. Olympia borders Lacey to the east and Tumwater to the south.
6. The site of Olympia had been home to Lushootseed-speaking peoples known as the Steh-Chass (or Stehchass, later part of the post-treaty Squaxin Island Tribe) for thousands of years.
7. Other Native Americans regularly visited the head of Budd Inlet and the Steh-Chass, including the other ancestor tribes of the Squaxin, as well as the Nisqually, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish.
8. The first recorded Europeans came to Olympia in 1792. Peter Puget and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition are said to have explored the site, but neither recorded any encounters with the resident Indigenous population.
9. In 1846, Edmund Sylvester and Levi Lathrop Smith jointly claimed the land that is now downtown Olympia.
10. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington Territory and Olympia became the home of the customs house. Its population steadily expanded from Oregon Trail immigrants.
11. In 1850, the town settled on the name Olympia, at local resident Colonel Isaac N. Ebey’s suggestion, because of its view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest. The area began to be served by a small fleet of steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.
12. Over two days, December 24–26, 1854, Governor Isaac I. Stevens negotiated the Treaty of Medicine Creek with the representatives of the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squawksin, Steh’Chass, Noo-Seh-Chatl, Squi-Aitl, T’Peeksin, Sah-Heh-Wa-Mish, and S’Hotl-Ma-Mish tribes.
13. Stevens’s treaty included the preservation of Indigenous fishing, hunting, gathering and other rights.
14. It also included a section which, at least as interpreted by United States officials, required the Native American signatories to move to one of three reservations.
15. Doing so would effectively force the Nisqually people to cede their prime farming and living space.
16. One of the leaders of the Nisqually, Chief Leschi, outraged, refused to give up ownership of this land and instead fought for his people’s right to their territory, sparking the beginning of the Puget Sound War.
17. The war ended with Leschi’s controversial execution.
18. In 1896, Olympia became the home of the Olympia Brewing Company, which brewed Olympia Beer until 2003.
19. The 1949 Olympia earthquake damaged many historic buildings beyond repair, and they were demolished. Parts of the city also suffered damage from earthquakes in 1965 and 2001.
20. Robust journalism in Olympia dates to before Washington Territory’s incorporation in 1853.
21. The Olympian is the local daily newspaper. The Weekly Volcano has covered Olympia entertainment since 2001. The statewide government channel TVW is based in Olympia. Since 1983, Olympia has had a Public, Educational and Government access television station, Thurston Community Media.
22. In 2012, NorthAmericaTalk.com, an online aggregate for local community news including ThurstonTalk.com, was established with headquarters in Olympia. Olympia Power and Light is a biweekly independent newspaper, while Works in Progress is published monthly, and ThurstonNewsWeather.com covers local crime and emergency radio scanner information.
23. US Soccer goalkeeper Kasey Keller was born in Olympia. He played for the Seattle Sounders until 2011, after a long career in Europe.
24. The 1990s riot grrrl feminist punk movement, which included bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, originated in Olympia.
25. Entrepreneur Christopher Hedrick grew up in Olympia and was inducted into the Olympia High School Hall of Fame.