Olympia’s early prominence in the Pacific Northwest made it the site of many key historical events. Founded in 1850, it became the seat of government after Congress created Washington Territory in 1853.
Like most early settlements in the Pacific Northwest, Olympia was home to a diverse population, including the native Squaxin people, French Catholic Missionaries, Yankee seafarers , Oregon Trail families, Asian immigrants and many others.
Olympia’s early society ranged from elite Federal appointees, legislators, business leaders and well-educated social reformers to immigrant laborers, small shopkeepers, artisans and denizens of the “sporting district.” Their stories of success and failure, notoriety and reform, and justice versus injustice makes exploring Olympia’s past a lesson in the variety of individual and group experiences that made the city what it is today.
Visit the sites listed in this project and discover the ways their stories still resonate through Olympia’s people and inform our understanding of place.
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