Olympia is the oldest remaining steel ship afloat, built during a transformative time in American culture, science, and technology. Her victory in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War of 1898 positioned America as a power in the Pacific making the conflict with Japan 43 years later almost inevitable. Time and again, Olympia was present at the center of world events. She was in Russia for both the crowning of the Czar and later the Bolshevik revolution. She was in the spectator fleet when General Billy Mitchell demonstrated air power as the future of military power. She was chosen to bring the body of the Unknown Soldier home from France in 1921.

Olympia is the remaining link between the age of sail and the age of steam in naval construction. She preserves marvels of engineering in their infancy including electricity, refrigeration and communications. She is a reflection of the influence of the Victorian and Edwardian eras on America, having been built before WWI swept away the aristocracies of Europe. She brings alive the inventiveness and can-do spirit of burgeoning American engineering.

Olympia is one of only two American warships that served in World War I that are still afloat, the only other being the Battleship Texas.