Olympia Then & Now

This essay is photo heavy, so pardon the bandwidth. Most photos link to hi-res versions. 

The photos have been pulled from various online sources and the “now” pictures are from Google Maps Street View and Google Earth. 

Thanks to http://www.jonesphotocollection.com/, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/, and http://olympiahistory.org/

I have tried by best to find the current locations, but I may be wrong in a few instances. 


1. Olympia in 1894. 

I had this photo labelled 1848 but I am pretty sure that is wrong based on the inscription. 

It is not easy to tell, but you can see how much the shoreline has grown. 




2. Olympia in 1948

I believe this photo was taken with the next few that follow it. You can see Little Hollywood and I am pretty sure that is the Oyster House





3. Olympia in 1948 (I believe)

Shot looking the other direction





4. Olympia in 1948 (I believe)

This one is nice because you can see massive difference in the road system and Capital Campus.




5. Looking east from the Kneeland Building

The Kneeland Building was torn down sometime in the 50s, iirc, but this photo was taken from the roof. 




6. Washington Veneer

This one I had to guess on, because so much of it is gone and the land has been changed around, regardless, this was down on the waterfront:




7. Chambers Block




8. The Kneeland Building

It has a cool history and I almost wrote a blog post about it alone, but figured that no one else romances long torn town buildings as much as I so I skipped it.




9. Bolster & Barnes 




10. Columbia Hall

The original city hall, fire department, police headquarters, etc. After they tore it down they named the new building Columbia after it. 




11. The Funeral Home


Now: (2011 street view) 


12. GP Plywood

State of the art and cool looking:




13. Knox Building / Washington High

This building is hard to find old photos of. 




14. Memorial Clinic

This one is my personal favorite, and if I were an evil scientist I would move out of the volcano and restore this old place. 




15. Safeway

I have heard this was the “sketchy safeway”. Now it is a “sketchy city hall”. 




16. YMCA

This one is cool because the addition obviated the original doors. 




17. The Rex Theater

You probably got a tattoo or a hair cut here. Some lucky few get to live up stairs:




 - And now for some street scenes! - 


18. 4th Ave looking east




19. Capitol Way




20. The Spar

Pretty cool that little has changed to some buildings. 



21. That time a train crashed onto 4th. 

This happened once. You can just barely make out the Security Building in the background.




22. Maple Park

This one has shifted around strangely so it is hard to pin down the exact spot the photo was taken.




23. Little Hollywood

This one just blows my mind:



24. Simmons Road

Before I-5 was built directly on top of Tumwater, it looked like this. Seems like the photo is from the roof of the old brewery. The “now” is my best approximation. 




25. Constructing I-5

I am pretty sure I have this one place right, based on the two water towers and the large hills on either side of the freeway.





 thanks for reading!



I wonder

Did the Fish and Wildlife Building ever look as good as it does in this photo, even the day it was finished?


Best wishes,


Very, very nice

Thanks for posting this.

Just one note, about #25. When it was being built, it was known as the Olympia Freeway and was made to route traffic around the middle of town.

Columbia Hall

Wow... I love this stuff!

#10 Columbia Hall.  Next door to that was a building where a church met regularly (I think it was borrowed space and was the original Assembly of God congregation now known as Evergreen Christian Center on westside), and the firemen living next door were sometimes roudy from excessive drink in the evenings, and would yell and throw bottles etc at the building full of singing worshipers.  That is what one of the now deceased members of the church told me some decades ago.

#22 Maple Park.  All those trees are new since the older pic was taken. Disease caused the city to cut down nearly every tree there (1970s, I think), and replant.  It was awful to see all those great trees removed, but had to happen.


Thanks for this.