In 1995, about 8 square miles of unincorporated Pierce County incorporated, forming the city of University Place. Although still a young city, University Place is rich in history and has long been a community proud of its background and unique quality of life.
The visual landscape has changed significantly over the past two hundred years as development has occurred, but hints of University Place’s past remain. In the early 1800s Pierce County was home to the Nisqually, Steilacoom, Squaxin, Puyallup, and Muckleshoot Indians. By the mid-1800s, the land that has now been developed into Chambers Bay Golf Course was being used for industry. Over the years it was used by the lumber industry, as a railroad center, and a gravel mine before being reinvented as the world class golf course it is today.
Through the mid-1900s, University Place became home to thousands of couples looking for the ideal place to raise their families. One of the couples was Charles and Mary Curran, who developed the Curran Apple Orchard. The orchard became a University Place landmark and over seven acres remains to this day, as a City park.
In the early 1990s, approximately one hundred years after the community received its name, community members started discussing incorporation. A movement began pushing for local government and local control and proponent and opponent groups soon formed. In November, 1994, proponents succeeded in passing a ballot measure which established almost eight square miles of unincorporated Pierce County into the City of University Place. Since then, the Council, City staff, and community have poured hundreds of thousands of hours into making University Place what it is today, a great place to live, work, and play.
How the City Got Its Name
In the early 1890s, the area that is now University Place was chosen as a location for the University of Puget Sound, at the time named Puget Sound University. The school purchased 420 acres for the campus, but financial difficulties in 1893 forced them to forfeit the land prior to establishing a campus and the university never made the move. However, the area continued to be known as University Place.