Olympia is a city located in Thurston County, Washington. With a 2020 population of 54,427, it is the 24th largest city in Washington and the 726th largest city in the United States. Olympia is currently growing at a rate of 1.75% annually and its population has increased by 17.10% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 46,478 in 2010. Spanning over 20 miles, Olympia has a population density of 2,985 people per square mile.
The average household income in Olympia is $75,355 with a poverty rate of 16.70%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,089 per month, and the median house value is $276,300. The median age in Olympia is 38.3 years, 36.1 years for males, and 41.2 years for females. For every 100 females there are 92.6 males.
The State of Washington is the city’s top employer. It employs over 20,000 people. Local government is also a significant employer. Other top employers in Olympia include Providence St. Peter Hospital, tribal governments, and federal governments.
Olympia Population Growth
The city of Olympia has seen steady growth since it was founded, with the only exception occurring at the time of the 1900 census, when the population dropped by over 17%. However, the next year, the population had risen by over 81%. By 1930, the population had grown to over 10,000 residents. This number more than doubled by 1970. Current estimates show that the community has increased by over 10% since the last census taken in 2010, indicating that further growth is expected for this city.
The area that is now Olympia was initially inhabited by many native tribes, including the Puyallup, Chehalis, and Duwamish, to name a few. The Europeans first came to the area in 1792, although it was not settled at that time. It was in 1846 when Levi Smith and Edmund Sylvester laid claim to the land that is now Olympia’s downtown area. The city was named Olympia in 1850.
In 1851, the customs house for the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington was established in the area. During this time, the population rose as immigrants came to the region. The Northern Pacific Railroad bypassed Olympia during the 1870s, and because the residents knew the importance of a railroad, they created their rail connection.
Washington was designated as a state in 1889 and Olympia was selected to serve as the capital city. The city’s capitol building was constructed in 1912 and was completed in 1928. During this time, the economy revolved around logging, oystering, sawmilling and other industries. It was also a shipping port for agricultural goods, sandstone, and coal. The Olympia Brewing Company was also established in the late 19th century and operated through 2003.
World War I and World War II resulted in population increases for the city as more people came to Olympia to work in wartime industries such as shipbuilding. Though the city and its population continued to grow, it did encounter hard times, including an earthquake in 1949 that destroyed much of the downtown area.
Today, Olympia has established itself as a center for art and music. It is also a center for activism and social justice.