3 Olys

In the comment thread of an Olympian story about a landmark house in the South Capitol neighborhood, an anonymous someone states:
Olympia was at one point in time "balkanized" by three geographic areas. The Westside -- state managers, the Eastside -- mill workers, and "The Southend" where the money was.

Can anybody tell us more about the history of these divisions?


Look at "Workingman's Hill"

Rebecca Christie's "Workingman's Hill" is not only a great history of the Bigelow Neighborhood, but also a great history of Olympia from a neighborhood point of view.

The "state managers" definition of the Westside reminded me of how Capital High School's athletic recruitment system has been said to work: "We'll give your daddy a state job." 


Thanks for book suggestion, I'm getting a copy through Timberland Library, they have 11 copies.

The CHS story I'd not heard yet, maybe some of our high school bloggers can tell us more too, interesting stuff.

The generalization of three

The generalization of three Olys might have had some truth to it up to a certain point. 1966-1971 was a period where Olympia really changed dramatically. Lacey was incorporated in 1966 and South Sound Mall opened. Meanwhile, when Dan Evans expanded State government, blocks and blocks of nice homes where Space City now stands were destroyed, eliminating a walk-in consumer base for downtown. Also, TESC opened in 1971, sparking growth on the Westside. After 1971, generalizing about Olympia sections became much more difficult.

For the record, I went through elementary (Go Roosevelt!) and junior high schools on the Eastside during the entire 1960s. Rebecca's book about the downtrodden side of town is so good, I'll think I'll buy her a lunch soon.

Where can I find this book?

I grew up on the eastside (go Swantown!), attended (old) Madison Elementary and was in the first 7th grade class to attend the newly-opened Washington Junior High on Cain Road. Even at that time (September 1969), the difference between my classmates from Madison and the students coming from the South Side were pretty obvious. The Southend WAS 'where the money was,' and some (but not all) of these kids were elitist snobs, who seemed to enjoy mocking those of us from the working-class eastside. I wasn't imagining this: parental incomes were jeeringly mentioned, and I recall specifically one member of that 'landed gentry' yelling out to a neighbor of mine in the hallway "Where do you get your clothes, the Rasco bargain table?" (accompanying braying laughter from his friends as they departed). I can't really blame these kids for what their parents obviously taught them, but it was a bitter pill to have to swallow. I'm in my fifties and the sting of that ridicule hasn't quite gone out of it. Sorry. At any rate, I'd love to know where I could obtain a copy of the book "Workingman's Hill." I've always been a huge fan of the history of Olympia and it has always perplexed me that there is so little on-the-ground history written about the development of the eastside and the Swantown Addition. Any suggestions?

Olympia Timberland Library

11 copies available, I checked just now.

Rebecca Christie's Workingman's Hill

is available around here through Timberland or the State Library.

I know just what you mean Mariner719. I went to the Old Roosevelt and attended the Old Washington Jr. High. It's pretty bad when we refer to our schools as "Old," isn't it? We lived on Eastside St.

It is good to see the Eastside celebrating its history through books like Rebecca's and restoring many of the vintage houses in the area.  

class and clothing

My son and I were shopping at Value Village on the west side (no longer at that location) and a classmate of his - from a wealthy Summit Lake family - yelled in at us "I knew you shopped here!".

Didn't embarrass us or anyone else in the store, though he obviously intended to do so.

I don't know what the cure is for classism, maybe learning empathy would help. 

Oh and welcome to OlyBlog Mariner719! I hope you'll chime in with more local history too.