The OLYMPIA was built by the United Iron Works of San Francisco in 1892 and commissioned in 1895. The majority of her steel came from what is now known as the Bethlehem Steel Company in Bethlehem, PA. She is best known in wider circles as the ship that returned the Unknown Soldier to United States soil.
The cruiser U.S.S. Olympia is a National Historic Landmark that represents critical points in time both in America’s development as a country and the Navy’s emergence as a global power. She served as the flagship of the Asiatic Squadron in the Spanish-American War. It was from Olympia’s bridge on May 1, 1898, during the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines, that Commodore George Dewey issued the famous command: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” The Spanish fleet was destroyed, while the American fleet—led by the Olympia—was minimally damaged. Learn more about Commodore Dewey by viewing the Dewey Films.
OLYMPIA was decommissioned in Philadelphia and she has rested beside the city since 1922. She is a perfect example of the types of ships built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard from the late 19th century through the early 20th century. OLYMPIA was one of the first naval ships to have electricity, ice making and refrigeration machinery, and hydraulic powered steering gear. To learn more, we invite you to visit Technology. She has been an iconic fixture of the Philadelphia waterfront near Penn’s Landing since 1956. OLYMPIA was designated a National Historic Landmark in January, 1964.