Visit the Bigelow House Museum website. In the mid's, Olympia developed around the waterfront and quickly became a hub of maritime commerce. Federal officers and those seeking the opportunities of the capital flocked to the city which, at one time, boasted the largest population of any town on Puget Sound. Captain Vancouver sent Lieutenant Puget and a crew to survey the lower part of the sound in May Puget and his crew spent several days visiting nearly every cove and island in the region.
To honor this work, Vancouver named the part of the sound south of the Tacoma Narrows for Puget. Vancouver named the northern part of the sound Admiralty Inlet. Soon after the first Americans settled Olympia in the mids, Chinese immigrants arrived in the city. Olympia's first Chinatown was on 4th Avenue between Columbia and Main Capitol Way where several buildings housed a hand laundry, stores and lodging for residents. Many found work as contract laborers. They built bridges, pulled stumps and graded streets in downtown. Others worked in lumber camps and harvested shellfish. Many Chinese became cooks, house servants, operated hand laundries, or cultivated vegetables and delivered them door to door.
Early on, Olympia emerged as a "Locke Town. Most of these sojourners were male and they relied on family surname associations to provide lodging, meals and social life. Olympia's earliest China town was on 4th Avenue between Columbia and Main Capitol Way where several buildings housed a hand laundry, stores and lodging for residents. Although there is no Chinatown in Olympia today, many descendants of the original Chinese pioneers still make their homes in the region.
A Brief History of Washington State License Plates
Olympia's first fire fighting unit, Barnes' Hook and Ladder Brigade, was organized in the early 's. Columbia Number 1, the first fire engine company to be established in Washington Territory, was formed in Olympia in Olympia residents elected the town's first Mayor in - William Winlock Miller.
Before then, a Town President was selected annually from among the members of the Town Board. Prior to , Olympia has a Town Marshall. In the years from , the Olympia Police Department was comprised of the chief, a captain and six patrolmen. When Washington Territory was formed in , Olympia was named the provisional territorial capital by Isaac Stevens, Washington's first territorial governor.
In , the designation was confirmed by the territorial legislature.
History of the Road
Olympia's incorporation as a Town occurred on January 28, In , the territorial legislature appointed a board of commissioners to oversee construction of a new bridge connecting downtown Olympia with the westside. The first westside bridge was built the following year. An especially difficult blow fell when Olympia was bypassed by mainline railroads in the s. City residents had to build their own line to connect with the Northern Pacific mainline at Tenino - 15 miles to the south.
Olympia's title of capital was often contested during the early years, and Olympia townspeople fought challenges by Vancouver, Steilacoom, Seattle, Port Townsend and Tacoma for location of the seat of territorial and, later, state government. In early , Olympia resident and jeweler Charles Talcott was commissioned to create a State seal in time for the convening of the first State legislature in November of the same year.
The simple round design with a copy of the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington in the center and the words "The Seal of the State of Washington, " is still the official seal of Washington State. A short time before Washington became a state in , a committee brought an elaborate design for a state seal to Olympia jeweller Charles Talcott and asked him to complete it in time for the meeting of the first Legislature in November of that year.
The design submitted by the committee was very complicated sketch, depicting the port of Tacoma, vast wheat fields, grazing sheep and Mount Rainier. Talcott argued that the design was too complicated and would be quickly outmoded by the growth of the state. Something simple, he suggested, would be timeless. He picked up an ink bottle and drew a circle around its base. Next he placed a silver dollar in the circle and drew an inner circle.
Between these circles he lettered the words, "The Seal of the State of Washington, ". In the center he pasted a postage stamp bearing a picture of George Washington. The design was quickly accepted by the Legislature. But making the die from the picture of George Washington on a postage stamp was no easy task.. Under magnification the picture was poorly detailed and would have been unsatisfactory when enlarged. George Talcott was given the job of finding a suitable picture and cutting the die.
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After reviewing a number of pictures, he finally found what he was looking for -- a color drawing of George Washington on a packing box of "Dr. Grant Talcott did the lettering and George cut the die. Over the years, more than two dozen variations of the Talcott design were used. In , Seattle graphic designer Richard Nelms was commissioned to create a new insignia. By law, the Secretary of State is the custodian of the Great Seal, which is attached to official documents and certificates issued by the state. The original die and press for the State Seal -- now more than years old -- is still used by the Secretary of State to impress the seal on official state documents.
Washington was given statehood designation on November 11, , as the forty-second 42nd state to enter the Union. On November 11, , Washington was admitted to statehood as the 42nd state of the Union by the United States Congress, with the same boundaries as at present. Washington extends from the Pacific Ocean on the west to Idaho on the east, and from Oregon on the south to the Canadian Province of British Columbia on the north. Prior to statehood, Washington was first part of Oregon Territory, and later became Washington Territory on March 2, However, the name Washington was chosen instead to honor George Washington, the first president.
When Washington became a state in with Olympia as the capital, the city grew and prospered adding amenities such as an opera house, city water system, street car line, street lamps, and a new hotel to accommodate visiting legislators.
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State government has been housed in a series of buildings in Olympia, including the former county courthouse in downtown. Changes were made to the topography of the city in , when almost 22 blocks were added to the downtown area in a gigantic dredging and filling effort to create a deep water harbor and fill the sloughs to the north and east of the city. In , the City awarded a contract to Union Bridge Company to build a more reliable bridge concrete bridge connecting downtown Olympia with the westside.
With increased growth in state government and the economic stimulus of World War I, the city began to grow in population and development. Olympia became a center of lumber processing and the city boasted as new smokestacks went up on the waterfront. Downtown buildings were constructed and residential areas south and west of the city developed.
By the time of the completion of the grand domed legislative building in , the city had become a fitting setting for such an imposing structure.
Cle Elum Firsts | Cle Elum, WA
An earthquake in damaged or destroyed many historic downtown buildings, which were quickly rebuilt. Today, downtown Olympia is a charming mix of historic, mid-century, and contemporary architecture. State government grew rapidly in Olympia after World War II, but many state offices were moving to other parts of the State. A Washington State Supreme Court decision in mandated that Olympia was the seat of government and that state office headquarters must locate here. The 's ushered in construction of a new freeway through Olympia and her neighboring communities of Tumwater and Lacey. In the 's the time of smokestacks and plywood mills drew mostly to an end along Olympia's waterfront when the Simpson, Georgia Pacific, and St.
Regis mills closed, victims of changing markets. Long time residents still mention the "Columbus Day" storm which hit the northwest on October 12, , with seventy-eight mile per hour winds. Two people were killed in the Olympia area and extensive damage was caused to buildings and trees. First Funeral Recorded by St. First General Store Opened by Tom Johnson during the summer of , and was soon followed by a store under the operation of Theron Stafford.
First Gold Discovery Reed and his wife, Barbara Ann Steiner Reed in First Incorporated , as a fourth class city. At the time, Cle Elum was considered a modern metropolitan city. It was the first dairy in Cle Elum and Roslyn.
Gamble, who served that office during Wheelock took charge as postmaster. First School Established in in the old Walter and Barbara Reed cabin that they had built in First Settler Thomas L. Gamble was the first settler in April He was also the first mayor of Cle Elum.
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