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Olympia is the capital city of the U.S. state of Washington, and the county seat of Thurston County. It was incorporated on January 28, 1859. The population was 42,514, at the 2000 census. Olympia is a major cultural center of the Puget Sound region.
The site of Olympia was home to Lushootseed-speaking peoples, for thousands of years, including Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish. The first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1792, when Peter Puget, and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition charted the site.
In the 1840s, Edmund Sylvester, and Levi Smith, jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown Olympia. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington Territory, and Olympia became the home of the customs house.
Its population, being steadily expanded from Oregon Trail immigrants, in 1853 the town settled on the name Olympia, at the suggestion of local resident Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, due to its view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest. The area began to be served by a small fleet of steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.
In 1896, Olympia became the home of the Olympia Brewing Company, which brewed Olympia Beer until 2003.
A 1949 earthquake damaged many historic buildings, beyond repair, and they were demolished. Parts of the city, also, suffered damage from earthquake tremors in 1965, and the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
In 1967, the state legislature approved the creation of The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Because of the college's presence, Olympia has become a hub for artists, and musicians, and was recently named one of the best college towns, in the nation, for its vibrant downtown, and access to outdoor activities.
The climate of Olympia is a Marine West Coast climate. Most of western Washington's weather is brought in by the Maritime Polar Air Mass, which forms near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. It contains cold moist air, which brings western Washington cold rain, cloudiness, and fog.
November, and December, are Olympia's rainiest months. City streets, creeks, and rivers often flood during the months of November, through February. Olympia averages 50.9 inches of precipitation, per year, and has a year-round average of 75% cloud cover.
According to one MSNBC study, Olympia had more rainy days, per year, on average, over the past 30 years, than any city, in the lower 48 states.
Olympia has a wide array of public parks, and nature conservation areas. The Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area is a 600-acre parcel that preserves more than 5 miles of Puget Sound waterfront along the Woodard, and Chapman, bays of the Henderson Inlet. Percival Landing Park includes 0.9 miles of boardwalk along Budd Inlet, as well as a playground, picnic areas, and a large open space. The Watershed Park is the site of the former water works for the city, and today features a loop trail with a large second-growth forest. Other parks include Priest Point Park, Burfoot Park, and Yauger Park, which is home to Olympia's only public skate park. The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located just outside of Olympia, as is the Capitol State Forest.
As of the census of 2000, there were 42,514 people, 18,670 households, and 9,968 families, residing in the city. The population density was 2,544.4 people per square mile. There were 19,738 housing units, at an average density of 1,181.3/sq mile.
There were 18,670 households, out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder, with no husband present, and 46.6% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.7% had someone living alone, who was 65 years of age, or older.
Olympia's main public school district is the Olympia School District. Olympia School District enrolled 9,231 students in K-12, based on the 2005-06 school year enrollment report. The school district has a total of 18 schools: 11 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Its high schools are Olympia High School (originally known as William Winlock Miller High School), Capital High School, and Avanti High School
In addition to primary, and secondary, schools, Olympia has a number of institutions of higher learning, including The Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound Community College, and St. Martin's University, in adjacent Lacey, Washington
Olympia is a regional center for fine arts. A number of theatrical experiences are available with companies, such as Capital Playhouse, Olympia Family Theater, Theater Artists Olympia, Olympia Little Theater, and Harlequin Productions, at the historic State Theater. The Olympia Symphony Orchestra performs five regular season concerts at the Washington Center, and two pop concerts.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Olympia-Lacey at Centennial Station.
Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and the surrounding area, are primarily served by Intercity Transit, more commonly referred to as "IT" by locals. Routes from other transit services, such as Grays Harbor Transit, Mason Transit, and the Tacoma/Lakewood Express with Pierce Transit. Intercity Transit maintains a free shuttle route called "Dash". Dash runs from the Capitol Campus to the Farmers Market, at the far edge of downtown.
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