In 1861, 28 years before Washington became a state, the smattering of people who lived here decided that the territory needed a university. On 10 acres of donated land in downtown Seattle, the school that would later become the University of Washington was created.
On Tuesday, the UW launched a school-year-long celebration of its founding 150 years ago. The kickoff took place at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle, the approximate location of the UW's first building.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn — all three alumni — were on hand to pay homage to their years at the UW and to talk about the importance of higher education to the region's economy.
UW officials hope to use the anniversary to showcase the school's importance, both as an academic powerhouse and an economic engine. And the celebration will also help the UW in its never-ending efforts to get private donors to contribute, said the UW's new president, Michael Young.