|Northwest USA — The City of Olympia: East Olympia and Tumwater|
|The City of Olympia: East Olympia and Tumwater
Drawn by E.S. Blover, Portland, Oregon. Entered according to an Act of Congress in the year 1878 by E.S. Blover, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress.
Published: San Francisco, by A.L. Bancroft & Co. 1879
Dimensions: 15 3/4 x 29 1/2 inches (image size)
In 1871, eight years before print was produced, Mrs. Frances Fuller Victor made an extensive tour of Oregon and Washington. She had the following to say about the town "Like all towns hewn out in the forest, it has a certain roughness of aspect, caused by stumps, fallen timber, and burnt, unfallen trees." At the time, she estimated the town's population to be about thirteen hundred. This print, made approximately eight years after her visit, suggests that it had grown little if any during the intervening period.
Olympia's development was hampered by a long and bitter controversy over location of the seat of the government for Washington Territory that began as soon as Oregon and Washington were separated in 1853. Governor Isaac Stevens called the first legislature to meet in Olympia, but the acts creating new territory provided that its legislative body should be determine the location of the seat of its government. Vancouver, Steilacoom, and Port Townsend representatives advanced claims for their towns, and while Olympia eventually won their legislative battle, funds to construct an adequate capital were withheld.
Meeting first in a store on Main Street, then in the Masonic Hall, the legislators continued to debate the capital city issue. In 1861, they voted in favor of Vancouver, but the Supreme Court invalidated this enactment on a technicality. A previous referendum indicated an overwhelming preference for Olympia, and although capital removal bills were introduced in subsequent sessions of the legislature up to the year of statehood in 1889, Olympia succeeded in beating back all contending cities.
Then it was not until 1863 that a building was built to house government offices on the ten acre site donated by Edmund Sylvester far from the center of town on 13th street. In the view, one can see this structure standing at the edge of Olympia’s built-up area slightly above and to the left of center in this lithograph. It served its purpose until 1903, and was on this site, as then enlarged that the present complex of state buildings began to take form after a New York firm won a competition for their design in 1911.
This is a very rare, as well as important, city view that shows quite clearly the importance of the railroad. The Railroad was critical to the development of the city and without links directly to Tacoma, Portland, and Seattle, it would never have developed and certainly never would have won its battle to stay the state’s capital. Reps, in his work Cities of the American West, highly praises this lithograph, reproducing it in full color. (Plate 140).