views updated May 09 2018


(Olympische Spiele 1936)

Germany, 1938

Director: Leni Riefenstahl

Production: Tobis Cinema (Germany); black and white, 35mm; running time: Part I. 100 minutes, and Part II, 105 minutes; length: Riefenstahl's final cut was 18,000 feet. Released 20 April 1938. Filmed 20 July-4 August 1936 in Berlin at the Olympic Games. Cost 2.2 million Reichsmarks (approximately $523,810 in 1938).

Producers: Walter Traut and Walter Grosskopf; Screenplay: Leni Riefenstahl; photography: Leni Riefenstahl, Hans Ertl, Walter Frentz, Guzzi Lantschner, Kurt Neubert, Hans Scheib, Willy Zielk; editor: Leni Riefenstahl; music: Herbert Windt.

Awards: Biennale Film Festival, Venice, 1st Prize, 1938; State Prize (Staatspreis) of Germany, 1938; Polar Prize, Sweden, n.d.



Riefenstahl, Leni, Schönheit im Olympischen Kampf, Berlin, 1937.

Riefenstahl, Leni, Notes on the Making of Olympia, London, 1958.

Sarris, Andrew, editor, Interviews with Film Directors, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1967.

Mandell, Richard, D., Nazi Olympics, 1971.

Stewart, Hull, David, Film in the Third Reich, Berkeley, 1971.

Young, Vernon, On Film: Unpopular Essays on a Popular Art, Chicago, 1972.

Barsam, Richard, Nonfiction Film: A Critical History, New York, 1973.

Barnouw, Erik, Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film, New York, 1974.

Johnson, Lincoln, F., Film: Space, Time, Light, and Sound, 1974.

Infield, Glenn, Leni Riefenstahl, The Fallen Film Goddess, New York, 1976.

Ford, Charles, Leni Riefenstahl, Paris, 1978.

Infield, Glenn, Leni Riefenstahl et le 3e Reich, Paris, 1978.

Berg-Pan, Renata, Leni Riefenstahl, Boston, 1980.

Welch, David, Propaganda and the German Cinema, Oxford, 1983; revised edition, 1987.

Graham, Cooper C., Leni Riefenstahl and Olympia, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1986.

Downing, Taylor, Olympia, London, 1992.

Kubler, Manon, Olympia, Caracas, 1992.

Riefenstahl, Leni, Olympia, New York, 1994.

Riefenstahl, Leni, Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, New York, 1995.

Salkeld, Audrey, Portrait of Leni Riefenstahl, London, 1996.

Hinton, David B., The Films of Leni Riefenstahl, Lanham, 2000.


New York Times, 9 March 1940.

Monthly Film Bulletin (London), no. 175, 1948.

Gunston, D., "Leni Riefenstahl," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall, 1960.

Gardner, Robert, in Film Comment (New York), Winter, 1965.

"Statement on Sarris-Gessner Quarrel about Olympia," in FilmComment (New York), Fall, 1967.

Swallow, Norman, interview with Riefenstahl on Olympia, in Listener (London), 19 September 1968.

Corliss, Richard, "Leni Riefenstahl: A Bibliography," in Film Heritage (Dayton, Ohio), Fall 1969.

Richards, J., "Leni Riefenstahl: Style and Structure," in SilentPictures (London), Autumn 1970.

Barsam, Richard, "Leni Riefenstahl: Artifice and Truth in a World Apart," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1973.

"Olympia Issue" of Film Culture (New York), Spring 1973.

Barkhausen, H., "Footnote to the History of Riefenstahl's Olympia," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1974.

Riefenstahl, Leni, "Notes on the Making of Olympia," in NonfictionFilm: Theory and Criticism, edited by Richard Barsam, New York, 1976.

Interview with Riefenstahl, in Montreal Star, 20 July 1976.

Vaughan, Dai, "Berlin versus Tokyo," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1977.

Tyler, Parker, "Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia," in The DocumentaryTradition, edited by Lewis Jacobs, 2nd edition, New York, 1979.

Horton, W. J., "Capturing the Olympics," in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), July 1984.

"American Intelligence Report on Leni Riefenstahl: May 30th, 1945," in Film Culture (New York), no. 77, 1992.

Foldenyi, F. L., "Felhotlen almok nyomaszto vilaga," in Filmvilag (Budapest), no. 2, 1993.

Graham, C. C., "Olympia in America, 1938: Leni Riefenstahl, Hollywood, and the Kristallnacht," in Historical Journal of Film,Radio and Television (Abingdon, Oxfordshire), no. 4, 1993.

Rose, Charlie, "Film Scholars Debate Riefenstahl," in Film Culture (New York), no. 79, Winter 1996.

Hitchens, Gordon, "Recent Riefenstahl Activities and a Commentary on Nazi Propaganda Filmmaking," in Film Culture (New York), no. 79, Winter 1996.

von Dassanowsky, Robert, "Entertaining the Third Reich: Illusions of Wholeness in Nazi Cinema," in The Germanic Review (Washington), vol. 72, no. 4, Fall 1997.

* * *

Any film of the Olympic Games would be useless, Goebbels maintained, unless it could be shown a few days after they ended. Who could be interested after the excitement and the memory faded? Fortunately, director Leni Riefenstahl, with Hitler's approval, over-rode any objections with astonishing results. While Olympia is a superb example of the sports documentary, it also stands on its own as an aesthetic achievement.

The fact its creator is a controversial figure whose alliance with the Nazi Party is still held up to scrutiny, and still as coolly contested by Riefenstahl, forces one to examine the boundaries of "artistic integrity" versus a very fundamental morality. One cannot view Olympia simply as film, or simply as propaganda.

There was almost as much preparation for Olympia's shooting as for the Games themselves. For the best angles, uninterrupted by distracted participants, two steel towers were built in the stadium infield, and pits were dug for the sprinting and jumping events. Scaffolding platforms caught the rowing teams in their winning strokes thanks to cameras pulled along tracks by car. Hundreds of technicians and advisors were brought in, as were some of the best camera people. Several cameramen had previously worked with Riefenstahl on her earlier film, Triumph of the Will, a stunning record of Hitler's Nazi rallies, as well as the "mountain" films by Arnold Fanck that she had starred in. Despite Riefenstahl's total control, much of the look of Olympia was due to people such as Hans Ertl, for the celebrated diving sequences, Walter Frentz for the marathon, yachting events and the romantic opening scenes in Part II, and Gustav Lantschner for the gymnastic, equestrian and some of the diving.

Three kinds of film stock were used; one was good for half-tones, one flattering to outdoor scenes, a third for architecture. Over ten hours of film were shot each day during the 16-day games. Including training footage (incorporated into the film) and reshooting (some winning athletes were delighted to recreate their finest moments), there were 250 hours for her, alone, to edit. Logging the film took a month, viewing the rushes more than two. According to the director, editing took a year and a half: "It was cut like a symphony . . . according to laws of aesthetics and rhythm." Adding the sound took another six weeks. It must be remembered that in 1936–37, there were no zoom lenses, no soundproof cameras, no computer mixing— merely what was, to us now, primitive technology.

After nearly three years, Riefenstahl was finished. Her powerful 12-minute open-sequence in Part I evokes the classical past, an analogy dear to Nazi propagandist hearts. Classical ruins—ironically to be come Nazi ones—Wagnerian strains, whirling clouds and Greek statues; together with the human body celebrated in motion via the discus throw, the shot-put and the javelin, the epic stance is firmly established. The international foundation of the games was exploited to produce a propaganda climax; in a series of shots, the torch aloft, carried from Greece, is ignited, the flame returns to life, only in Germany, only under Hitler, who pronounces the games open. With lab effects, the results are almost religious.

The high jump becomes a filmic ballet, with slow-motion, different camera angles and cross-cuts. Then follow the discus, hurdles, throwing the hammer, pole vaulting, relays. The long-jump is one of the more interesting pieces in the film, having a personal dimension. The competition between Aryan Lutz Long and American (and, gallingly for the games hosts) black star Jesse Owens. Riefenstahl, sensitive to the symbolism, accomplishes the drama effectively, incorporating the tension in the situation, the personal drive of the two contestants with honed slow-motion camera work, fast audience reaction shots (significantly, not Hitler's who rarely appears applauding any but German athletes), the sharp timing. Primarily, her camera is not aimed at documenting history-making records, but at the athletes themselves. Interestingly, more of the slow-motion effect, with the result of making the bodies almost superhuman, is aimed at the German athletes, whether or not they win, although the film's content is not, presumably, out to confirm the superiority of the "master" race.

The bodies seem to add another dimension, almost bursting out of the flat screen, which is seemingly barely able to contain the exuberance, the strength. And while many sports event have, by their nature, repeated actions by series of contestants, Riefenstahl films each in a slightly different manner to keep the movements fresh by her choreography.

The handling of the marathon, the antidote to any possible flagging attention, is the high point of Part I. Taylor Downing, in her book Olympia refers to this segment, rightly, as "a film within a film. It creates a statement about achievement and endurance, and takes the viewer right inside the race itself. Rarely has a marathon been treated with such imagination on film." Using the distorted shadows of the runners, interspersed with shots of feet pounding the pavement, leg muscles pulsing, the viewer's own body tenses, feeling the strength flowing from, then, as the runners feel the exhaustion, draining out of their bodies; each frame fairly courses with energy, and with the constant drive. The marathon is not an event, in Riefenstahl's camera eye, it is each athlete's personal trial.

One of Riefenstahl's gifts is her ability to manipulate the range of responses (within the film, within the audience) through her use of music, content, editing and tone, not only within each individual sequence but the combining/contrasting of them for the bigger effect. For example, the dramatic rowing sequence is then followed by the occasionally humorous riding event; the result is a dynamic, filmic flow. In Part II, she begins sensuously, with reflected pools of mist-layered water, the tiny details such as a bird's wing in flight, a drop of water trembling on a spider web, with violin music threading through shots of muscled male bodies bathing, birching one another . . . Aryan Fatherland and Mother Nature in harmony. She cuts—like a hit of ice—to the rousing ceremony march, then on to physical training, as the different nationalities get into their stride for the bustling day's events. A shot of mass gymnastics is a long pan; tens of thousands of women in endless regimented lines do push-ups. The result is oddly dehumanising; like Busby Berkeley's routines, individual grace is transformed into a pop design. Here the effect is one of uneasiness, not thrill.

Part II also ends with a crescendo. The diving sequence is justly the most celebrated in the film, even in film history. Camera people Ertl and Dorothy Poynton-Hill had to adjust for distance during the dive, change exposure the second the diver hit the water, then reverse the process when s/he resurfaced. An elevator-type device mounted by the pool insured a fluid movement. The divers become suspended, as the camera seemingly redefines the physical laws of motion, of space and of time. The divers appear in the sky from nowhere, defying gravity; in slow-motion, they become surreal. Bodies twist, twirl, arc and never descend. No commentary mars the effect. Once again, no matter how beautiful each movement, repetition with each contestant could visually numb. To avoid that, Riefenstahl matched each shot with the movement of the dive preceding it; at the end, to the dive following. Such grace shows the director at her best; one forgets the background outside the realm of pure artistry.

She has perennially maintained her political innocence, reminding us of the gold medal the Olympic Committee awarded her in 1948. To many people, her stance rings hollow. Olympia is a stunning, and reasonably accurate account of the games. However, she was only independent of the propaganda ministry because of Hitler's personal involvement. It partly transcends politics, but it was established for political motives for political propaganda. Olympia is not a product of the political naif (she would "borrow" a group of gypsies from a nearby concentration camp for a later film — then return them when she was through), but a brilliant, ambitious director who wanted her work seen. Genius can work both ways.

—Jane Ehrlich

Olympia: Economy

views updated Jun 08 2018

Olympia: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The city's early development was based on its port facilities and lumber-based industries, and later oyster farming and dairying. Following World War II, Olympia served as a major service center for lumber communities west of Thurston County, while the Port of Olympia remained a major transportation center for shipping logs and finished lumber. But during the mid-twentieth century, the decline of the local timber industry resulted in the loss of many of the local associated milling and secondary operations.

During the 1970s, Olympia expanded as a center of offices and homes for state employees, military personnel, and their respective families. This further diminished Thurston County's already modest farm sector as housing development pushed into the remaining fertile prairies. Dairy and truck (mostly berry) farming continued in the south county, interspersed with small hobby farms.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the state legislature approved and financed construction of the Evergreen State College. The four-year public institution became an economic and cultural fixture in Thurston County with faculty, staff, and students contributing to the local housing and retail sectors. On a smaller scale, South Puget Sound Community College and Saint Martin's University in nearby Lacey also drove the housing demand. In the late 1980s the Olympia waterfront and downtown were revitalized, and an effort began to draw new businesses to the area.

Manufacturing continued to be a major economic segment in the early 2000s, though a set-back was experienced with the closure of the Miller Brewing plant in June 2003. Wood and food processing segments were stagnating, while plastics, industrial supplies, and machinery were experiencing growth. Area companies in these growth segments include Dart Containers Inc., Albany International Corp., Big Toys Inc., and Amtech Corp. Overall, though, the number of manufacturing jobs is projected to decrease slightly until the late 2000s, when it is expected to regain the employment level it had in 1990.

Agriculture, another industry traditional to Olympia, also waned, although production is still higher than in nearby counties. In 2002 Thurston County produced crops valued at $49 million, and its livestock, poultry, and related products were valued at $65 million. Although the size of farms continues to decrease, the number of farms actually increased, with 1,155 farms operating in 2002. As with agriculture, the timber industry is dominated by smaller, family-owned operations.

As the capital of the state of Washington, Olympia relies on the state government to be a stabilizing factor for the local economy. According to the Thurston Regional Planning Council, state government was the county's second-largest industry behind services in 2000, employing 22,750 people. In addition to the jobs it supports directly, state government also supports the economy by attracting tourists, as does the region's gambling industry. The Olympian reported in 2005 that tourism spending in the area jumped from $153.4 million in 1998 to $209.7 million in 2003. The annual sessions of the state legislature in the winter and spring mark the first tourist season of the year, with summertime recreation and attractions, including tours of state buildings, following.

Compared to other regions in the state, Olympia and Thurston County are home to a relatively small number of technology companies. To attract them, economic development officials promoted the area's telecommunication infrastructure, low property price, and educated workforce. In 2004 Univera Inc., a biotechnology firm, relocated to Thurston County from Colorado. Other recent additions to the area are Reach One, an Internet service provider, and Fast Transact, a processor of credit card transactions.

Items and goods produced: wood products, processed foods, metal and paper containers

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Olympia has no corporate or personal income tax, and no inventory tax. Thurston County offers exemptions on sales and use tax for manufacturing equipment, repair and replacement parts, and labor; for manufacturing machinery and equipment used for research and development; and for warehouse/distribution facilities and equipment. A tax credit of up to $2 million is available for research and development in the high technology industry. Tax exempt revenue bonds for manufacturing, ranging from $1 million to $10 million, are also available.

State programs

The state of Washington offers a number of incentive programs to attract new and expanding businesses to the state. Among them are B & O tax credits; sales/use tax deferrals for technology and manufacturing companies as well as for firms relocating or expanding in distressed areas; and loan programs that apply to rural areas and the redevelopment of brownfields.

Job training programs

South Puget Sound Community College provides specialized job training for public and private employees, contracts with businesses to provide specialized job training, and operates a comprehensive Cooperative Work Experience program. The Washington state Job Skills Training Program offers employers a 50 percent match for training costs. The federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), formerly Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), may match up to 50 percent of wages for on-the-job training of dislocated workers.

Development Projects

Faced with a higher cost of living, residents of such large cities as Seattle were migrating to Thurston County by the beginning of the twenty-first century. According to the Thurston Regional Planning Council, 77 percent of the county's increase in population between 1990 and 2000 was attributed to in-migration. This influx, combined with relatively low interest rates, drove development projects. In 2004 the Red Wind Casino completed a $31 million expansion, and the area's other tribal casinos completed similar upgrades. The Westfield Shoppingtown Capital mall expanded and renovated, and was pursuing the construction of a 16-screen movie complex in 2005. Elsewhere in Thurston County, construction of new office buildings for the state government were in progress, including the 160,000-square-foot, $35-million Cherry Street Plaza in Tumwater.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Council of Thurston County, 665 Woodland Square Loop SE, Ste. 201, Lacey, WA 98503; telephone (360)754-6320; fax (360)407-3980; email [email protected]. Thurston Regional Planning Council, 2404 Heritage Ct. SW, Ste. B, Olympia, WA 98502; telephone (360)786-5480; fax (360)754-4413; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

After years of struggling with an identity as a failing bastion of log exporting, the Port of Olympia reported its first profitable year in nearly a decade with a surplus of $400,000 in 2004. The turnaround was primarily due to diversification into such bulk commodities as metals and limestone, and the controversial move into military shipments to support the war in Iraq. The 60-acre, deepwater port offers three berths, a U.S. Customs bonded warehouse, and a cargo yard for breakbulk, bulk, rolling stock, and containerized cargoes. The Port of Olympia is also the site of Foreign Trade Zone #216, an area where foreign goods bound for international destinations can be temporarily stored without incurring an import duty.

The Port of Olympia owns and operates Olympia Regional Airport, a general aviation-transport facility for corporate, commercial, and recreational users. The airport is 20 minutes by air to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and 50 minutes away from Vancouver, B.C. Nearly 90 miles of active rail lines lie in Thurston County. Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad serve the area, with the Tri-City & Olympia Railroad also serving the Port of Olympia.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Olympia's workforce surpasses much of the nation in educational attainment. Of adults aged 25 years or older in 2000,91.6 percent of Olympians had obtained a high school diploma, compared to the national average of 80.4 percent. That discrepancy is even greater in terms of college education, with 40.3 percent of Olympia's residents earning a bachelor's degree or higher, while only 24.4 percent did so across the United States as a whole.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Olympia metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 93,000

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 5,100

manufacturing: 3,300

trade, transportation and utilities: 14,600

financial activities: 3,800

professional and business services: 7,100

leisure and hospitality: 7,400

government: 35,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $18.27 (2004 annual statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 5.7% (January 2005)

Largest Thurston County employers (2004)Number of employees
State of Washington20,000-25,000
Local Government10,000-15,000
Providence St. Peter Hospital1,000-5,000
Tribal Government1,000-5,000
Federal Government500-1,000
Group Health Cooperative500-1,000
Columbia Capital Medical Center100-500
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.100-500
St. Martin's University100-500
Costco Wholesale Corp.100-500

Cost of Living

Thurston County set a new record for housing prices in January 2005, when the average price for a home was $224,104, up from the previous record of $223,884 that was set in November. These figures demonstrate a rapid increase in housing costs, driven by people migrating from more crowded and costly counties to the north, as well as those taking advantage of low interest rates to purchase larger homes.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Olympia area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 102.2

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $244,960

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 6.5%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.9%

Property tax rate: 13.119 per $1,000 of assessed value (2005)

Economic Information: Thurston County Chamber, 1600 E. 4th Ave., Olympia, WA 98507; telephone (360)357-3362, fax (360)357-3376, email [email protected]

Olympia: Recreation

views updated Jun 11 2018

Olympia: Recreation


Located on the Olympic Peninsula, nearby Olympic National Park encompasses the Olympic Mountains and Pacific Ocean beaches. Beautiful Olympic National Forest, which surrounds the park, is the site of three rain forests.

Capitol Lake Park provides a spectacular view of the state capitol buildings, the lake, and surrounding wooded bluffs.

The Capitol grounds feature the Executive Mansion, the campus gardens, war memorials, and a conservatory. The Capitol group of buildings, completed in 1935, consists of six white sandstone structures located on a hill in the city's southern section. The marble interior Legislative Building at the center of the cluster has a 287-foot high dome, similar to that of the U.S. Capitol, and one of the highest of its kind in the world.

Heritage Fountain invites children and adults to don a swimsuit and splash among its 47 water spouts. The fountain is part of the Heritage Park, a scenic pedestrian district stretching from the Capitol Grounds to Percival Landing. Percival Landing, on the city's waterfront, has a 1.5 mile boardwalk featuring works of art and interpretive displays outlining the history of the harbor. A walk along the Port Plaza provides mountain views from the working waterfront and a visit to the nationally recognized Batdorf and Bronson Coffee roasters shop.

Yashiro Japanese Garden, a traditional Asian garden designed in the ancient hill and pond style, honors Olympia's sister city of Yashiro, Japan. The walled garden features classic gates built without nails. The City of Yashiro presented two cutstone lanterns and a 13-tier pagoda as gifts to the garden.

Chief William Shelton's Story Pole, located on the Washington State Capital Campus, was dedicated in 1940 to commemorate the relationship between Northwest Native tribal governments and the State of Washington. The American Revolution is remembered in downtown Sylvester Park with a monument to the End of the Oregon Trail, a leg of a pioneer trail that ran to the shores of Puget Sound.

The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge has 3,000 acres of land and waters to provide refuge and nesting places for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and wading birds. The Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area is a wildlife sanctuary for bald eagles, seals, otters, and bats, and is one of the most important heron rookeries in Washington.

Four tribal casinos operate in Thurston County. Located in Olympia, the Red Wind Casino is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m., and features slot machines, table games, dining, and live entertainment. The area's other casinos are Hawk's Prairie, Little Creek, and Lucky Eagle.

Arts and Culture

Olympia residents enjoy a variety of arts and cultural facilities and events. Each year, the Capitol Campus draws more than half a million visitors who tour the Legislature as well as the stately buildings, grounds, gardens, and artwork. The State Capital Museum, adjacent to the Capitol Campus, houses exhibits that document the story and political and cultural life of the city and state. Built in the 1850s, the Bigelow House Museum, one of the oldest homes in the Pacific Northwest, offers tours of the house's original furnishings. The exhibits at the Hands-On Children's Museum, across from the Capitol Campus, allow children to enjoy a first-hand experience of science and art. At the east side of the Olympia Airport, the Olympic Flight Museum features historic aircraft from around the world.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts presents a full season of performances by resident and touring groups, offering music, dance, theater, and family entertainment. Groups in residence at the center include Ballet Northwest, Youth Symphonies, the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, and the Washington Shakespeare Festival. The Masterworks Choral Ensemble is a southwest Washington chorus based in Olympia. The Capital Playhouse, a semi-professional theater company, presents five musical performances in its season. The State Theater is the venue for Harlequin Productions, whose eclectic performances include both new works and innovative treatments of classics. The Olympia Film Society shows independent, international, and classic film year-round at the Capital Theater, offers special live performances, and annually produces a nationally recognized film festival.

The city's popular Music in the Park program takes place at noon each Friday from mid-July through August; its sister program, Music in the Dark, offers evening concerts on Wednesdays. The largest Art Walk in the state occurs in Olympia each April and October, with businesses featuring visual arts, performances, and poetry of local artists.

Olympia's downtown art galleries include the Childhood's End Gallery, Cornerstone Pottery, and State of the Arts Gallery. The Evergreen Galleries on that college's campus feature changing exhibits.

Olympia is known as a center for independent rock and punk music produced and performed locally. Cover charges are generally low or non-existent, venues are often no-frills, and shows are frequently all-ages events. Folk, jazz, and blue-grass are traditionally strong draws as well. The Capitol Theater Backstage offers all-ages shows and the Piper's Lady club offers weekly jam sessions; bluegrass, Irish, and open-mike nights are also offered.

Festivals and Holidays

Olympia's first celebration of the year is April's Procession of the Species, a celebration of arts and the natural world that culminates in a procession of residents in masks and costumes. Percival Landing is the site of May's annual Wooden Boat Fair, which features wooden boats, international foods, and craft booths. Also in May is the annual Swantown Boat-swap & Chowder Challenge, a day dedicated to boats, marine equipment, and clam chowder. Nearby that same month are the annual Harbor Shorebird Festival at the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and the Lacey Grand Prix Electric Car Race & Alternative Fuel Fair.

Summer begins with Duck Dash & Bite of Olympia, a June event featuring entertainment, children's activities, and a rubber duck race. Evergreen State College sponsors Super Saturday, a free festival for all ages, that same month. Also in June is the annual Olympic Air Show, held at the Olympic Flight Museum. July brings the Dixieland Jazz Festival, a four-day event, and Capital Lakefair, one of the largest community festivals in the state. The Thurston County Fair is held over the first weekend of August. For more than 60 years, the Pet Parade has invited the children of the city to parade the downtown streets with their favorite pets or toys, costumes, or creations of their own. Sand in the City, Wash-ington's largest sand sculpting competition, takes place at the Olympia Waterfront Port Plaza each August.

Olympia Harbor Days is held over Labor Day weekend, and features the Tugboat Races & Festival. In September the Percival Play Day features activities and attractions for families. Octoberfest at the Farmers Market highlights the month, which also includes the ArtsWalk and the Children's Halloween Party at Olympia Center. In December, the spotlight is on the Parade of Lighted Boats at the city's waterfront.

Sports for the Spectator

The Geoducks, the sports teams of Evergreen State College, compete in cross country, track and field, volleyball, and men's and women's basketball and soccer. St. Martin's University teams, nicknamed the Saints, participate in baseball and softball, cross country, track and field, volleyball, and men's and women's basketball and golf. Nearby Tacoma is home to the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team, a Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

Sports for the Participant

Olympia's location on the Puget Sound and nearby mountains make outdoor recreation very popular, especially hiking, kayaking, skiing, and sailboating. Thurston County boasts 11 golf courses, including Vicwood, one of Washing-ton's newest championship-rated courses. An abundance of parks and forests nearby and in the city include the very popular Tolmie State Park and Millersylvania State Park. Burfoot Park, which covers 50 acres of property with 1,100 feet of saltwater beach frontage on Budd Inlet, offers nature trails and beach access that feature beautiful views of the State Capitol and the Olympic Mountains.

The Capital City Marathon winds through various parts of town each May. Nearby Rochester is the site for June's Swede Day 5K Fun Run/Walk. The following month the Washington State Senior Games take place throughout Thurston County, with a series of athletic competitions in 20 sports for men and women aged 50 and higher.

Shopping and Dining

The Westfield Shoppingtown Capital mall encompasses more than 100 stores and restaurants, and is anchored by JCPenney, Macy's, and Mervyn's. Olympia's Farmers Market, the second largest in the state, offers the finest in handi-crafts, baked goods, and fresh produce. It is located on Budd Inlet, the southernmost reach of the Puget Sound.

Naturally, the star of Olympia's cuisine is the wonderful fish and seafood that have made the area famous. In addition to Northwest fare, diners may choose from ethnic cuisine, oven fired pizza, or family dining spots. The Olympia Brewery, one of the area's most recognizable landmarks, has been producing brew for more than a century. At its site in nearby Tumwater, visitors can enjoy a tour and the hospitality tasting room.

Visitor Information: State Capital Visitor Center, 14th & Capitol Way, Olympia, WA 98504; telephone (360)586-33460; fax (360)586-4636. Olympia-Thurston County Visitor & Convention Bureau, PO Box 7338, Olympia, WA 98507; telephone (360)704-7544; toll-free (877)704-7500; fax (360)704-7533; email [email protected]

Olympia: History

views updated May 18 2018

Olympia: History

Territorial Days

Before British Captain George Vancouver sailed into Puget Sound Bay in 1791 and made the first known European contact with the native tribes, the Nisqually, Duwamish, Suquamish, and Puyallup Indians hunted, gathered, and fished in the region where Olympia now stands. The United States and Great Britain jointly controlled the region until the boundary between U.S. territory and Canada was established in 1846. The Pacific Northwest Region was then called Oregon Territory.

White settlement of what later became Olympia began in 1846 with a joint claim filed under a homestead law by partners Edmund Sylvester, a Maine fisherman, and Levi Lathrop Smith, an easterner who wanted to be a minister but was prevented by epilepsy from pursuing that career. Smith called his portion of the claim Smithfield. For two years, Smith and Sylvester were the only white residents in Smithfield (then Oregon Territory); the area was covered with virgin forest. When Smith drowned in Puget Sound in 1848, Sylvester took over his partner's claim. By the end of 1848, a trail had been cleared between Smithfield and New Market to the south (now Tumwater), and four families, about fifteen single men, and Father Pascal Ricard and his small band of Oblate missionaries had settled in Smithfield. In 1850 a city was laid out and Smithfield was renamed Olympia after the Olympic Mountains that can be seen in the distance. In 1853 Washington Territory became separate from Oregon Territory. Olympia (population 150), the largest settlement in Washington Territory, was named its capital and Isaac Stevens arrived to serve as Washington's first territorial governor.

Governor Stevens predicted a golden future for Washington Territory. He moved quickly to open up the area to white settlement, promising to survey a route for a transcontinental railway and to convince the natives to cede their land and move to reservations. By 1854 most of the tribes had done so, but intermittent outbreaks of hostility throughout the 1850s deterred extensive settlement. Delays in constructing a transcontinental railroad and the 1849 discovery of gold in California drew prospective settlers from the Northwest. The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 nearly halted the westward migration of settlers.

City's Desire for Prominence Thwarted

Blessed with abundant natural resources, Olympia remained small but prospered. The year 1852 marked many firsts for the town. Coal was discovered, saw mills were built, a fledgling trade industry was started with California, road and school districts were established, and Washington's first newspaper, the weekly Columbian, published its first issue. In 1853 a Methodist minister took up residence and began to build a church, classes began at the Olympia Public School, and the city's first theatrical performance was held. Olympia's population grew from fewer than 1,000 people in 1860 to 1,203 residents in 1870. By 1872 Olympia seemed on its way to becoming Washington's great city; that year, however, a severe earthquake shook Olympia, as did the decision by the Northern Pacific railroad not to end the line at Olympia. Instead, the railway went to Tacoma, taking with it much of Olympia's trade and industry.

Meanwhile, people began moving to Seattle instead of Olympia. Still, with its strategic location near virgin forest land and the waterfalls at Tumwater, Olympia flourished as a saw mill town. Furniture, shingles, timber, pilings, and coal were loaded aboard ships bound from Olympia Harbor to California. Olympia served as a social center for isolated settlers throughout Washington, who traveled by steamboat to attend picnics and fairs there. By 1890 Olympia's population stood at 4,698 inhabitants. A year earlier, in 1889, Washington had become a state; Olympia fought bids by several other cities for the right to remain state capital and won in a statewide vote. At the time, state government was housed in a single frame building.

The decade of the 1890s was marked by progress and disappointments. The Olympia Brewing Company, which would become one of Olympia's greatest claims to fame, was founded in 1896 in Tumwater. Telephone lines and electric light poles were erected, dredging began for a modern port, a street railway system was built, and the elegant Olympia Hotel was completed (but destroyed by fire in 1904); however, an economic depression left citizens complaining that their diet consisted of nothing but clams, and Olympia's population fell to 3,863 residents by 1900. By this time, Seattle and Tacoma had surpassed Olympia as the big cities of the Puget Sound area.

Twentieth-Century Advances

In 1901 the state bought Olympia's Thurston County Court House to serve as the Capitol building, but Olympians could not rest easy with their title of state capital until the present Capitol complex was finally completed in 1935 after delays due to the 1890 and 1930 depressions.

Olympia had escaped the worst of the Indian wars of the 1850s, and in the twentieth century managed to escape the labor troubles and various upheavals that beset other Washington cities. The city benefited when World War I brought a huge demand for Olympic peninsula spruce to make airplanes. Waterborne trade lost by 1920 to other Puget Sound ports picked up after a 1925 revitalization of the Port of Olympia, and ships once again began loading lumber bound for the Orient.

Olympia suffered a severe earthquake in 1949. A year later the city celebrated its centennial, 100 years from the date Olympia was laid out. By then Olympia ranked twelfth among Washington's cities in population and boasted one high school, one radio station, a "video" station, and two newspapers. With a population in 1953 of 16,800 people, Olympia was a typical small town where the sidewalks were "rolled up" each evening. One by one, state government offices were moving from Olympia to Seattle, and the city feared it would lose its capital status. Finally, four local businessmen filed a lawsuit against the state to stop the exodus; the eighteen state agencies were ordered back to Olympia in a decision that opined: "it was not the intention of the framers of the constitution that the state capital should be composed of empty buildings to collect cobwebs and stand in disuse."

Then began a flurry of construction of government buildings on what had once been residential streets. Despite decades of effort, Olympia was less successful in luring industry, thus managing to escape the attendant smog and pollution. In the 1960s and 1970s Olympia lost many of its downtown retail businesses to shopping malls in the then-rural towns of Lacey and Tumwater.

Efforts to preserve the downtown emphasized people-friendly projects while discouraging skyscrapers. Olympia served as a west coast port of entry and exit from which agricultural products and oysters were shipped. However, government had become the leading source of local employment and has a strong influence on most aspects of life in the city.

Challenges in the New Century

The turn of the century brought several challenges to Olympia. Some, like a national recession and the terrorist attacks of 2001, affected the entire United States and beyond. Others were more specific to the region. On February 28, 2001, the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually Earthquake occurred, with an epicenter only 10 miles from Olympia. A gradual yet significant loss of manufacturing jobs spurred the goal of diversification, particularly into technologya segment in which Olympia was lagging behind the state's other regions. The question of the new resident of Olympia's Executive Mansion hung in the balance for two months. The gubernatorial race between Democrat Christine O. Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi was finally settled, after several recounts, in Gregoire's favor in January 2005.

Historical Information: Washington State Capital Museum, 211 W. 21st Ave., Olympia, WA 98501; telephone (360)753-2580

Olympia: Education and Research

views updated May 29 2018

Olympia: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

One of the oldest districts in the state of Washington, the Olympia School District was founded in 1852, nearly 40 years before Washington statehood. The district offers five alternative programs for students in elementary, middle, or high school grades. It also offers an Early Childhood Program for children under five years with developmental disabilities and the Program for Academically Talented Students serving students in grades two through five.

Olympia High School, one of the oldest public secondary schools in Washington, was built in 1906. The building was completely renovated in the late 1990s, and rededicated in October 2000. Taxpayers in February 2004 approved additional funds to renovate and update the district's other facilities.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2008, all students enrolled in the Olympia School District must meet new graduation requirements that include 22 credits, completion of the "High School and Beyond" plan, a Certificate of Academic Achievement, and a culminating project.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Olympia school district as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 9,234

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 11

junior high/middle schools: 4

senior high schools: 2

other: 1

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: Not available

maximum: Not available

Funding per pupil: $7,213 (20022003)

Olympia is home to seven private and religious schools.

Public Schools Information: Olympia School District, 1113 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA 98501; telephone (360)596-6100; fax (360)596-6111

Colleges and Universities

The Evergreen State College, a public liberal arts and sciences institution founded in 1969, enrolled more than 4,400 students in 2004. The Olympia campus accounted for 93 percent of enrollment, with Grays Harbor, Tacoma, and Tribal Reservations sharing the remainder. Emphasizing interdisciplinary studies rather than traditional majors, Evergreen offers a Bachelor's of Arts and a Bachelor's of Science in Liberal Arts, with the opportunity to concentrate in biology, communications, computer science, energy systems, environmental studies, health and human services, humanities, language, management and business, marine studies, mathematics, Native American studies, performing arts, physical science, politics and economics, pre-law, pre-medicine, and visual arts. Master's degree programs are offered in environmental studies, public administration, and teaching.

South Puget Sound Community College is a two-year, public institution that serves all adults regardless of their previous education. Approximately 6,000 students each semester pursue associates degrees in arts, general studies, technical arts, and nursing. The college also offers non-credit community education classes, adult literacy, and high school completion programs.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Martin's University 44th among the best Western universities for Master's programs in its "America's Best Colleges 2005." St. Martin's, located in nearby Lacey, is a four-year, co-educational college with a strong liberal arts foundation that also encompasses business, education, and engineering. Known as Saint Martin's College until changing its name in August 2005, the school offers 22 undergraduate programs, six graduate programs, and numerous pre-professional and certification programs. St. Martin's, one of 18 U.S. Benedictine Catholic colleges, has more than 1,700 full- and part-time students enrolled at its main campus in Olympia and its extension campuses at the Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, and Olympic College at Bremerton.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Timberland Regional Library system has 27 community libraries, including the Olympia branch, and four cooperative library centers across the counties of Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston. The system encompassed 1.49 million items in 2003, including more than one million books, 152 electronic books, more than 220,000 magazines, 36 online reference databases, and numerous videos, CDs/records/cassettes, audio books, pamphlets, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. The Olympia Timberland Library was founded in 1909 with a collection of 900 books. The McCleary Timberland Library, located in Grays Harbor County, opened in June 2003. That same year the Timber-land Regional Library system became the state's first public library system to join with the Library of Congress as a partner in the national Veterans History Project.

Other local libraries include the college libraries at the Evergreen State College, whose special collections include a Rare Books room and the Chicano/Latino Archive, South Puget Sound Community College, Providence St. Peter Hospital, and the Washington State Capital Museum.

The Washington State Library has more than half a million volumes and periodicals, with special collections on Washington newspapers, Washington authors, and Washington state documents. It is a U.S. government and Washington State depository library.

State of Washington governmental libraries include those of the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Information Services, the Department of Natural Resources, the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Washington State Law Library.

Local research institutes include the Cascadia Research Collective, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, The Evergreen State College Labor Education and Research Center, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Fish Program.

Public Library Information: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 8th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501; telephone (360)352-0595. Washington State Library, PO Box 42460, Olympia, WA; telephone (360)753-5590


views updated May 18 2018


Olympia: Introduction
Olympia: Geography and Climate
Olympia: History
Olympia: Population Profile
Olympia: Municipal Government
Olympia: Economy
Olympia: Education and Research
Olympia: Health Care
Olympia: Recreation
Olympia: Convention Facilities
Olympia: Transportation
Olympia: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1846 (incorporated, 1859)

Head Officials: Mayor Mark Foutch (NP) (since 2004); City Manager Steve Hall (since 2003)

City Population

1980: 27,447

1990: 33,729

2000: 42,514

2003 estimate: 43,963

Percent change, 19902000: 26.0%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: Not reported (State rank: 17th)

Metropolitan Statistical Area Population

1980: 124,264

1990: 161,238

2000: 207,355

Percent change, 19902000: 28.6%

U.S. rank in 1990: 12th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 13th (CMSA)

Area: 18.52 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 221 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 49.9° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 50.59 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Government, services, trade

Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $22,590 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,791

Major Colleges and Universities: The Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound Community College, Saint Martin's University

Daily Newspaper: The Olympian

Olympia: Population Profile

views updated May 18 2018

Olympia: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (PMSA)

1980: 124,264

1990: 161,238

2000: 207,355

Percent change, 19902000: 28.6%

U.S. rank in 1990: 12th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 13th (CMSA)

City Residents

1980: 27,447

1990: 33,729

2000: 42,514

2003 estimate: 43,963

Percent change, 19902000: 26.0%

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: Not reported (State rank: 17th)

Density: 2,544.4 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 36,246

Black or African American: 805

American Indian and Alaska Native: 553

Asian: 2,473

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 125

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 1,863

Other: 713

Percent of residents born in state: 45.3% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 2,307

Population 5 to 9 years old: 2,449

Population 10 to 14 years old: 2,664

Population 15 to 19 years old: 2,859

Population 20 to 24 years old: 3,914

Population 25 to 34 years old: 6,471

Population 35 to 44 years old: 6,436

Population 45 to 54 years old: 6,434

Population 55 to 59 years old: 2,029

Population 60 to 64 years old: 1,279

Population 65 to 74 years old: 2,449

Population 75 to 84 years old: 2,261

Population 85 years and older: 962

Median age: 36 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 959

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 1,281 (of which, 6 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $22,590

Median household income: $40,846

Total households: 18,673

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 1,923

$10,000 to $14,999: 1,340

$15,000 to $24,999: 2,511

$25,000 to $34,999: 2,519

$35,000 to $49,999: 2,931

$50,000 to $74,999: 3,826

$75,000 to $99,999: 1,835

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,370

$150,000 to $199,999: 226

$200,000 or more: 192

Percent of families below poverty level: 6.9% (of which, 39.4% were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 2,791

Olympia: Communications

views updated May 21 2018

Olympia: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Olympian is the city's daily newspaper. Three monthly newspapers published locally are The Thurston-Mason Senior News, Washington State Grange News, an agricultural paper, and Works in Progress, a community newspaper.

Television and Radio

Olympia has one cable television station, as well as two FM and one AM radio station with nostalgia, country music, classical, soft rock, and eclectic programming.

Media Information: The Olympian, 111 Bethel St. NE, PO Box 407, Olympia, WA; 98507; telephone (360)754-5400; fax (360)754-5408; email [email protected]

Olympia Online

City of Olympia. Available www.ci.olympia.wa.us

Economic Development Council of Thurston County. Available www.thurstonedc.com

Olympia School District. Available kids.osd.wednet.edu

Olympia-Thurston County Visitor & Convention Bureau. Available www.visitolympia.com

The Olympian. Available www.theolympian.com

Thurston County Chamber. Available www.thurston chamber.com

Thurston Regional Planning Council. Available www.trpc.org

Timberland Regional Library. Available www.timberland.lib.wa.us

Selected Bibliography

Christie, Rebecca A., Workingman's Hill: A History of an Olympia Neighborhood (Olympia, WA: Bigelow House Preservation Association, 2001)

Newell, Gordon, So Fair a Dwelling Place: A History of Olympia and Thurston County, Washington (Olympia, WA: Gordon Newell and F. George Warren, 1984)

Olympia: Geography and Climate

views updated Jun 08 2018

Olympia: Geography and Climate

Olympia sits on a low flat at the southern end of Puget Sound on the shores of Budd Inlet's two bays, between Seattle and the Olympic Mountains to the north, Mt. Rainier to the northeast, and Mt. Saint Helens to the south. The city is further divided by Capitol Lake.

The city and the surrounding area experience fair-weather summers and the grey, wet overcast winters of the Pacific Northwest. Tempered by the Japanese trade current, the mild northwest climate favors lushly forested landscapes replete with ferns and mosses. Rainfall tends to be spread out over a large number of days. With about 52 clear days out of every 365, Thurston County residents live under some form of cloud cover 86 percent of the year, with more than a trace of rain falling on almost half of the days of the year.

Area: 18.52 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 221 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 37.9° F; July, 63.2° F; annual average, 49.9° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 50.59 inches

Olympia: Health Care

views updated Jun 08 2018

Olympia: Health Care

Olympia has two hospitals and functions as the regional medical center for five surrounding counties. The Providence Health System operates the 390-bed Providence St. Peter Hospital and the 191-bed Providence Centralia Hospital, each of which have served the community's health care needs for a century. Providence St. Peter is the largest hospital in the region, offering a full spectrum of acute care, specialty and outpatient services, including cardiac surgery, obstetrics, medical rehabilitation, emergency care, and outpatient surgery. In 2003 Providence St. Peter Hospital opened a $27.5 million emergency center and clinical laboratory.

Capital Medical Center, established in 1985, has 119 beds and 238 physicians. The full-service hospital includes emergency care, private birthing suites, a same-day private-room surgery center, pain management services, a lymphedema program, senior programs, and a sleep disorder center.

Health Care Information: Providence St. Peter Hospital, 413 Lilly Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98506; telephone (360)491-9480; toll-free (800)956-2574. Capital Medical Center, 3900 Capital Mall Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502; telephone (360)754-5858; fax (360)956-2574

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