Lacey was originally called Woodland after settlers Isaac and Catherine Wood, who claimed land there in 1853.The small settlements of Woodland and Chambers Prairie consolidated into Lacey in the 1950s. Renamed for attorney and developer O.C. Lacey, the city of Lacey was officially incorporated on December 5, 1966. At the time, the main industries were cattle, milk, forest products, and retail. Lacey became a commuter town for Olympia, Fort Lewis and to some extent, Tacoma; in recent years, however, business developments, community groups, and population growth have led Lacey to develop into a city in its own right.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.51 square miles (42.76 km2), of which, 16.06 square miles (41.60 km2) is land and 0.45 square miles (1.17 km2) is water.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $46,848, and the median income for a family was $54,923. Males had a median income of $41,053 versus $32,497 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,224. About 7.1% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.5% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 42,393 people, 16,949 households, and 10,869 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,639.7 inhabitants per square mile (1,019.2 /km2). There were 18,493 housing units at an average density of 1,151.5 per square mile (444.6 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.2% White, 5.4% African American, 1.2% Native American, 8.0% Asian, 1.7% Pacific Islander, 2.6% from other races, and 7.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.2% of the population.
There were 16,949 households of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.99.
The median age in the city was 34 years. 24.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.5% were from 25 to 44; 21.8% were from 45 to 64; and 14.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.4% male and 52.6% female.
Lacey sported one of the Northwest’s first ever “indoor malls”, South Sound Center. It has since been partially demolished and turned into an outdoor shopping center. Lacey now features a diverse array of businesses, ranging from retail to warehousing/distribution centers, a large retirement community, a major mushroom farm, and Weyerhaeuser’s corrugated container facility.
As Lacey continues to grow, many businesses continue to feed into the city. Lacey now offers a Regal 16 Movie Theater, which is one of the largest theaters in the area. Other businesses that have recently come into Lacey include LA Fitness, Best Buy, Costco, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Thrive Community Fitness Center and many strip malls and market squares. There is also speculation that former NFL Washington RedskinsFullback Mike Sellers, a North Thurston High School alumnus, may seek to build a multi-sport event center or football dome in Hawks Prairie, which could attract national competitions.
Sports outfitter Cabela’s opened its Lacey location in November 2007, its first store in the south Puget Sound area. It attracts fishing, hunting, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the state, many of whom spend more than three hours in the store per visit.
Lacey was the twelfth city to be designated an official “Green Power Community” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its use of renewable energy sources; 5% of its total energy use comes from green power sources. It is working to meet its Alternative Energy Initiative, which includes “using 100 percent green electrical energy in all of its municipal buildings, parks, utilities, and 3,000 streetlights and traffic signals; providing electric vehicle charging stations to visitors and employees at its city hall and library campus; and initiating conversion of its municipal fleet to energy efficient vehicles powered by electricity, hybrid technology, and 80/20 biofuel.” In 2009, Lacey’s Alternative Energy Fair was honored with the Award of Excellence for Events, Fairs, and Festivals by the Washington Recreation and Park Association.Lacey has received the “Tree City, USA” designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the past eighteen years.
In addition to being the home of many public and private schools, Lacey is also home to Saint Martin’s University, and Thurston County’s largest school district, North Thurston Public Schools. Lacey is also home to various faith based schools, such as Faith Lutheran School (Preschool through 8th Grade) and Foundation Campus, which includes Community Christian Academy (Pre-school to Middle School) and Northwest Christian High School. Lacey is also the home of Pope John Paul II High School.
Public secondary schools
- Aspire Middle School (Magnet)
- Chinook Middle School
- Komachin Middle School
- Nisqually Middle School
- North Thurston High School
- River Ridge High School
- Timberline High School
- South Sound High School (Alternative High School