Where did the Broadway precinct get its name?
Every year, the Thurston County Auditor’s Office completes regular precinct maintenance. The purpose of this process is to balance the number of voters in each voting district to ensure balance. For each precinct outside an incorporated city, Auditor staff choose a meaningful name, normally after a local landmark.
For example, Evergreen Ballroom (North and South) are named after a former gathering placed called “Evergreen Ballroom” along the historic Pacific Highway.
Some precincts, though, don’t seem to have an easy to identify connection to any existing landmark. Take for example, the Broadway Precinct, located just north of Olympia’s city border on the westside near the Evergreen State College. At first glance, there is no “Broadway” out there.
But using local online tools, we can track the history and origin of the Broadway designation. Using the Online Recording Index, we can see the history start in 1869 when the West Olympia plat was filed with our office. In that plat, there was a street named “Broadway.”
Using another county tool, the Geodata Parcel layer, you can find the remaining West Olympia parcels that had not been replatted. The majority are located between Division and Crestline, north of the Olympia city limits:
Looking at a 1951 map of the area (from the Washington State Digital Archives), you can see what is now 26th Avenue was once known as Broadway:
The streets in the area were likely renamed in the early 1970s, because you can find newspaper archives from that era (available at the State Library) where 26th Ave and Broadway are listed together. Here is a classified ad from 1973 that refers to Broadway as the former name of the now 26th Avenue.
The current Broadway Precinct, though, is east of where the former Broadway Street once was. Old Broadway Road (26th Avenue) is now covered by the French precinct. That is because French precinct was created out of the older, larger, Broadway Precinct in May 1981 when the county conducted regular precinct maintenance. These Board of County Commission minutes, available on Thurston County’s website, describe the new French Precinct:
Here is a June 1981 article (again, available at the State Library) describing the split: