Rare early map of Olympia, Washington, one of the earliest obtainable maps of Washington's Territorial and State Capital City.
Rare early cadastral map of the city of Olympia, Washington, Showing additions, lot numbers, street names, railroads, section numbers, and names of a number of large land owners outside the city. The map also notes the City Wharf, Capitol Building, Bridges, Maple Park and the Masonic Cemetary, along with the lines of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Olympia & Corvallis Railroad and the Port Townsend & Southern Railroad. Notably, the Northern Pacific did not actually reach Olympia until 1890, and the line shown is likely the original narrow gage line constructed by a local company in 1878, after the Railraod bypassed Olympia in favor of Tacoma as its Puget Sound Terminus.
The present map of Olympia is the earliest printed map which we were able to locate. The map was apparently issued as a promotional piece, as this example bears the additional title "Compliments of Henderson Bros., Real Estate and Abstracts. The only Complete Set of Abstrtacts of Titles for Thurston County. Corner of Fifth and Main Streets, Olympia, Washington. The example in the Washington State Library includes the following "Compliments of Oliver Baker, real estate broker." Yale notes a copy which indicates "Compliments of Scammell & Conger."
At the request of the Hudson's Bay Company, French Catholic missionaries established Mission St. Joseph of Newmarket and school in the 1840s at Priest Point near the future townsite of Olympia, for the conversion of natives to Catholicism. American settlers also came to the area in the 1840s, drawn by the water-power potential of Tumwater Falls, and established nearby "New Market," now known as Tumwater, the first American settlement on Puget Sound. The site was the northern end of the "Cowlitz Portage," the overland trail between the Cowlitz River and Puget Sound.
Edmund Sylvester and Levi Smith jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown Olympia. Smith built his cabin on what was then a narrow peninsula, near the current intersection of Capitol Way and Olympia Avenue. Smith's death in 1848 left Sylvester the sole owner of the land on which he platted the future townsite. Early names for the settlement included "Smithfield" and "Smithter" in honor of Levi Smith. In 1853 the town settled on the name Olympia, at the suggestion of local resident Isaac N. Ebey, due to its view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest.
In 1851, Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound, and Olympia became the official customs port of entry. In 1854, the customs house moved to Port Townsend at the entrance to Puget Sound to better monitor shipping activity. In 1852, Olympia became the county seat of the newly organized Thurston County, Oregon Territory.
By the early 1850s American settlers began pushing to separate the area north of the Columbia River from Oregon Territory, which in Congress created Washington Territory. Isaac Stevens, the first Territorial Governor, designated Olympia capital of the new territory in 1853. The first territorial legislature convened early in 1854 at the Parker and Coulter store on Main Street (now Capital Way), between State Street and Olympia Ave. After Washington achieved statehood in 1889, Olympia continued as the state's capital city.
OCLC notes 3 copies (University of Washington, University of Oregon, UC Davis). We also located a copy of the map at Yale.