What led to the selection of Olympia as the capital of Washington?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

Washington’s Capital Selection

The process of selecting a capital city is a significant aspect of a state’s history and development. For the state of Washington, this decision was made in 1889 when it became the 42nd state of the US. The selection of Olympia as the permanent capital city of Washington was influenced by several factors, including its early history, growth and development, accessibility and transportation, politics and influence, business and economy, natural and cultural attractions, and competition with other cities like Seattle and Tacoma.

Early History of Olympia, Washington

Olympia was founded in 1850 by a group of settlers who named it after the ancient Greek city of Olympia. It was initially a small village located on the southern end of Puget Sound. Olympia was chosen as the capital of the newly formed Washington Territory in 1853, which helped to spur its growth and development. The town’s economy was mainly based on logging, fishing, and agriculture.

Olympia’s Growth and Development

During the late 1800s, Olympia experienced significant growth and development due to the arrival of several institutions and businesses. These included the establishment of the Washington State Capitol, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and the opening of the Olympia Brewery. These developments helped to increase the town’s population, business activity, and cultural significance.

Washington’s Territorial Government in Olympia

The Washington Territory’s government was established in Olympia in 1853 and continued to operate there until 1889 when Washington became a state. During this period, Olympia served as the center of political and administrative activity for the territory, helping to influence its economic and social development.

The Search for a Permanent Capital City

In 1889, when Washington became a state, a commission was formed to select a permanent capital city. Several cities, including Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, were considered. Olympia was chosen as the permanent capital due to its central location, accessibility, and historical significance.

Olympia’s Competition with Seattle and Tacoma

Seattle and Tacoma were also contenders for the position of Washington’s capital city. However, Olympia’s central location between the two cities gave it an advantage. Additionally, Olympia’s early history and cultural significance helped to sway the commission’s decision in its favor.

Olympia’s Politics and Influence

Olympia’s central location and the presence of the state capitol gave it a significant political influence. The city has been the site of several significant political events, including the 1919 Seattle General Strike and the 1999 WTO protests. Additionally, Olympia has been home to several notable politicians, including Governor John Spellman and Senator Maria Cantwell.

Olympia’s Accessibility and Transportation

Olympia’s accessibility and transportation were also significant factors in its selection as Washington’s capital city. The city is located on the I-5 corridor, making it easily accessible from both Seattle and Portland. Additionally, it has a well-developed transportation system, including a ferry terminal, an airport, and a train station.

Olympia’s Business and Economy

Olympia’s economy is diverse, with a mix of government, education, healthcare, and service sectors. The city is home to several institutions and businesses, including the Washington State Capitol, The Evergreen State College, and Providence St. Peter Hospital.

Olympia’s Natural and Cultural Attractions

Olympia’s natural and cultural attractions, including its parks, museums, and historical landmarks, make it a popular tourist destination. Some of the notable attractions include the Washington State Capitol, the Hands On Children’s Museum, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, and the Tumwater Falls Park.

The Final Decision and its Significance

The selection of Olympia as Washington’s capital city in 1889 was a significant decision that helped to shape the state’s history and development. It reinforced Olympia’s position as a political, economic, and cultural center of the state, and it contributed to its growth and development.

Conclusion: Olympia’s Role as Washington’s Capital

Olympia’s role as Washington’s capital city has been significant in the state’s history and development. It has helped to shape the city’s growth and development, and it has contributed to its political, economic, and cultural significance. Today, Olympia continues to play a vital role in Washington’s governance and serves as a symbol of the state’s rich history and culture.

Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment