Spokane, Washington

November 17, 2014 by  

Spokane, Washington was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. It retains the atmosphere and activity of a city honored with the presence of such a display. Riverfront Park, the remaining legacy of that year, was built on property that once housed a very busy rail yard. Spokane continues to grow and is the second largest city in Washington State and the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis. It has a population of almost 201,000 people.





Spokane is the largest city in eastern Washington State and the second largest in the entire state. A river with a spectacular series of falls drew the early natives, who were followed by the white settlers. This river is a tributary of the Columbia River and provided generous amounts of salmon as nourishment for the earliest natives. These early natives called themselves Spokanes. The nearest agreed meaning of this name is “Children of the Sun.” In 1881, the Spokane Reservation was established to the northwest of the present City of Spokane.




European Settlers

The first white settlers were of European descent, the largest groups being fur traders and missionaries. They traveled inland to an area we know as the “Inland Northwest.” Each settler had intentions that were not revealed until the plans reached fruition. These are just a few of those settlers:


> David Thompson, a fur trader and cartographer, came in 1807. He crossed the Continental Divide to explore the upper watershed of the Columbia River, eventually arriving at the Spokane River region. The falls had potential economic impact, which was not lost on white visitors to this region.


> The falls became the site of a sawmill which was built on the south bank of the river in 1871 by settlers James Downing and Seth Scranton. James Glover and his partner Jasper Matheney came from Oregon in 1873 seeking land with the specific intent of establishing a town. They were impressed with the potential of the falls as a site.


> Glover and Matheney successfully purchased Downing’s mill along with 160 acres that Downing held as a squatter. Glover eventually became known as the “Father of Spokane.” Glover managed to acquire Scranton’s claim and he bought out his partner, Metheney, in 1877.


> Frederick Post was a miller of German descent who was pursued and persuaded by Glover to build a gristmill at the falls – which Post did build. Glover quickly expanded that sawmill and he built a general store as well.




Spokane Becomes a Town


More families settled on the south side of that river when they saw that the area had benefits such as a store, sawmill and flour. Soon churches, schools, banks, hotels, newspapers and saloons began to appear. Frederick Post decided to relocate to a spot farther up the river and establish his own mill there. His area became the town of Post Falls, Idaho.


> Reverend S. G. Havermale replaced Post as the town miller in 1875.


> Anthony Cannon and John Browne bought a 50% interest in Glover’s properties and his store. Cannon became the town banker of Spokane Falls and Browne opened a law practice.


> Other enterprising settlers who arrived during the 10 years from 1870-1880 include Francis Cook – a newspaperman who established Spokan Times in 1879 and Willis Ritchie – an architect who created the county courthouse in 1895.


There was a definite need for hotels as more settlers arrived in this town. The Western House was built in 1877 and California House followed in 1878. Spokane County was established in 1879 and Spokane became the county seat.




Spokane Incorporates and Prospers


The incorporation of Spokane occurred in 1881 when its population numbered 1,000. Benefits of this area drew the attention of the railroads. The city’s future became brighter when the Northern Pacific railroad was completed in 1883.


Northern Idaho and the northeast corner of Washington State proved to be rich in minerals and this discovery started a domino-effect boom. First it was gold, then silver, followed by lead and zinc. The mines brought money and wealth to Spokane for many decades, making it the undisputed economic center of the Inland Empire. This town had wheat-producing areas to the south, irrigated farms in the nearby valley and railroads and timber nearby.


From 1880 and forward, Spokane became and remained the agricultural and industrial center, outshining both San Francisco (CA) and Portland (OR). Spokane hosts annual agricultural and industrial fairs, conventions and organizational meetings and has done so since the early 1880s.



Burn and Rebuild


On August 4, 1889, a fire destroyed 32 blocks of downtown Spokane. Because many of the buildings were insured, they were quickly replaced with durable structures built of brick or stone.


The Panic of 1893 caused unemployment and loss of wealth to the early enterprising settlers. Northwestern and Pacific Hypotheekbank, a Dutch financial institution, foreclosed on most of the buildings that it had financed during the rebuilding process after the fire. Valuable Spokane real estate suddenly came under Dutch control.

However, the post Panic recovery introduced a new generation of wealthy leaders, emerging from the mining or railroad activities.




Moving Forward


In 1900, the City of Spokane numbered 40,000 residents. By the end of that decade, it is said that there were 26 new millionaires. This introduced upscale neighborhoods west of the center of Spokane.


An enormous number of immigrants found their way inland between 1900 and 1910. The population of Spokane swelled from 40,000 to more than 100,000. These blue-collar workers settled on the north side of the river.


These settlers formed neighborhood clusters for each ethnic population: Italians, Germans, Chinese and Finnish settlers. Each group established a gathering center in order to maintain ethnic and cultural identities.








The City of Spokane has a strong Mayor form of government, similar to that of state and federal government. The Mayor heads the executive level and has a role as the leader of the community working with city partners to make improvements to the City of Spokane. Spokane has a Chief Operating Officer in the form of a Deputy Mayor who supervises all of the operations departments.


Seven elected members of the City Council make up the legislative branch. They are responsible for forming and setting policies, declaring ordinances and generally guiding the growth and development of the city. The Council President is the only councilor elected by the entire city. The six remaining council members are elected by district.







The economic growth of Spokane is critical to the region, county and state. Spokane has what it takes to lure people: Riverfront Park, Spokane River and its Falls, the burgeoning University District, mountains, lakes and golf courses. Spokane recently started a new era of economic development.


Businesses that cater to tourists abound. New eateries, lodging, entertainment and family-style activities are contributing to the revitalization of this city. Other diverse businesses are starting to look seriously at relocating to the second largest city in Washington State. The Downtown Spokane Renaissance has attracted more than $3 billion investment dollars into the city.


Downtown Spokane is the regional center of education, healthcare, retail, business and finance. As a vital regional center for these sectors, its trade area stretches beyond the boundaries of the city of Spokane. It includes almost 2 million people in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana plus two provinces in Canada!





Some well-known residents of Spokane include Bing Crosby (singer, actor), Craig T. Nelson (actor), Julia Sweeney (comedian) and Tom Foley (former Speaker of the House) are only three among the hundreds of famous people to claim Spokane birth or residency. They come from all walks of life: Arts, Music, Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Education and more.


An estimate of the current population places the number at more than 201,000 people within the Spokane city limits, which covers an area of 57.76 square miles. Median household income is approaching $39,100 as compared to the National average of $42,000.


27.9% of the population is under 18 years old and 14% are over 65 years of age. The remaining group of 58.1% makes up the Spokane workforce aged between 18 and 64 years. 48.2% of the population is male and 51.8% is female.


Median age of the population of Spokane is 34.7, which is younger than the average national age. This total population, as reported by ethnicity, falls into the following six groupings:


> White population 87.9%

German (22.9%)

Irish (13.8%)

English (12.1%)

Norwegian (6.1%)

French (4.3%)

U.S. Native (5.3%)

> Latino population 3.0%

> Other smaller groups 2.9%






Pacific Islanders


> Asian population 2.3%

> Black / African American 2.1%

> Native Americans 1.8%


Families make up 58% of the total population of Spokane. There are 81,512 occupied housing units and another 6,429 (7.3%) are unoccupied.






Spokane has an educated population (25 years and older) with 34.6% of its people earning a bachelor’s, post-graduate or professional degree. Another 88.1% earned a high school diploma or higher. Unemployment is reported at 9%.


The Spokane Public Schools is the largest employer in the city of Spokane. Spokane was cited by The Gates Foundation as a high achieving school district and the district was awarded a grant of $16.4 million. The funds have been targeted for individual schools to encourage professional development for teachers as well as personalized learning environments.


“Excellent for Everyone” is certainly a fit motto for this district that serves 30,000 pupils. There are 34 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 6 high schools. No segment of school-age population is overlooked. Programming includes:


> Gifted education opportunities

> Special education

> Homeschooling assistance

> Alternative education

> Montessori

> Spokane Skills Center


There are several college, university and vocational education facilities in Spokane. This group includes:


> Spokane Falls Community College with 6,284 full-time students

> Spokane Community College with 5,564 full-time students

> Gonzaga University with 3,860 full-time students

> Whitworth College with 1,849 full-time students

> ITT Technical Institute with 390 full-time students

> Interface Computer School with 192 full-time students

There also are programs offered for vocational educational such as HVAC training, cosmetology, radiologic technicians and real estate.




Business and Industry


The Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce has about 1,400 business members who collectively represent 100,000 residents. 85% of the businesses have fewer than 25 employees and 70% have less than 10 people in their employ. The mission of the Chamber is to provide leadership in an environment where members, businesses and the community can be successful.






The financial services industry has a strong presence in Spokane. A quick look at the banks with the most branches reveals:


> U.S. Bank National Association has 14 branches

> Washington Mutual Bank has 12 branches

> Washington Trust Bank has 12 branches

> F&M Bank has 10 branches

> Bank of America, National Association has 9 branches

> Wells Fargo Bank, National Association has 8 branches

> Sterling Savings Bank has 7 branches


Besides those listed, there are eight other banks with a combined 20 branches.






Two newspapers serve the residents of Spokane by covering local news include:

The Spokane SiDEKiCK reports on local arts and entertainment and the Spokesman-Review, which covers and prints local, national news, sports and more.


Radio stations within Spokane city limits are scarce. However, stations with strong signals serving this area are numerous. There are 13 AM stations and these are the smaller ones that can be found within the city limits: KSBN (1230 AM) is 1 kW, KJRB (790 AM) is a 5 kW, as is KTRW (970 AM), KAQQ (1280 AM), KMBI (1330 AM) and KQNT (590 AM).


There are 19 FM stations available to Spokane residents. Several are broadcasting from college campus locations. The unexpected report concerns television access. Cable TV gives the residents a choice of viewing opportunities that include the three major broadcasting networks: ABC, CBS and NBC and a number of their affiliate stations.



Lodging and Food




Visitors to Spokane have a fine selection of accommodations that includes familiar chain names, inns and bed & breakfast establishments. There are at least 37 hotels and motels within Spokane city limits. Room rates range from a low of $60 up to a pricey $200 per night room.


> Spokane Valley Super 8 Motel (no phone # available), although super inexpensive, still offers amenities that rival those of pricier lodging. Some of the amenities include the following: Pet-friendly, handicap accessible, restaurant on-site, indoor pool, guest Laundromat, high-speed or wireless internet access, AM/FM alarm clock, exercise gym, air conditioning, room coffeemakers and hairdryers, refrigerator, satellite TV and a casino. Prices start at $61 nightly.


> The Ridpath Hotel (no phone # available) is an example of the pricier lodging. Located in the heart of downtown Spokane, this pet-friendly and handicap accessible hotel is the ultimate in lodging. Some of the amenities include room service, temperature control, air conditioning, AM/FM alarm clock, wake-up service, laundry/valet services, telephone safe deposit box, radio, over-sized rooms, internet access, guest laundromat, in-room iron, free newspaper, in-room computer, health club and exercise gym, coffee shop, continental breakfast or buffet are on the “short” list. This is the reason for the room rates that start at $179!


Bed & breakfast or inns are also available in Spokane. However, visitors are limited to Angelica’s Bed & Breakfast, Odell House Lodging, Hannah’s Garden Inn, 1908 Marianna Stoltz House B & B, EJ Roberts’ Mansion Bed & Breakfast, Geraldine’s on Grand, House Of Travel, On The Park Bed & Breakfast or the Waverly Place Bed & Breakfast.


Camping enthusiasts will be happy to note that there is a KOA campground IN Spokane with amenities worthy of a resort. Spokane KOA (509-924-4722) is close to almost everything offered within Metropolitan Spokane area.




Ethnic eateries are popular with menus featuring American, Asian, Chinese, Thai International, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. Of course, the casual dining, pubs, bistros and sports bars are plentiful in Spokane. Fine dining is available at:


> The Scratch Restaurant & Lounge (509-456-5656) is located inside the historic Montvale Hotel in downtown Spokane. Local, organic ingredients accompany everything from Lobster, Crispy Duck Sushi Roll, steaks, pasta, seafood and some good homemade bread. This is one of four Regional food restaurant.


> Churchill’s Steakhouse (509-747-7463) is an elegant dining experience where only the very best Mid-Western corn fed USDA prime beef comes to your table.



Leisure Activities




Shopping malls are a popular indoor experience and Spokane has two popular malls within its city limits. The Northtown Mall is one and River Park Square is the other. Other shopping areas include:


> Indian Trails Shopping Center

> Ash and Rowan Shopping Center

> Lincoln Heights Shopping Center

> Manito Shopping Center

> K-Mart Shopping Center

> Shadle Shopping Center

> East Town Shopping Center

> River Ridge Shopping Center



Museums and Galleries


The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is the home of Native American artifacts and traveling art exhibits. It is located in a secluded setting near the center of downtown amid the 19th century mansions of Spokane.


Armed Forces & Aerospace Museum is another popular museum housing collection of stories traced back through the generations of Inland Northwest American settlers. More than 7,000 items from every branch of the military are stored at this location.


Jundt Art Center and Museum is inside Gonzaga University. Visitors can peruse the growing number of art pieces at Gonzaga University.


Mobius Kids is a creative learning museum for children and families featuring hands-on experiences in the arts, culture and science.


The Chase Gallery has exhibits by local and regional artists and is open to the public during normal business hours.


Lorinda Knight Gallery and the Tinman Gallery also feature exhibits of regional artists and artisans. The focus is on paintings. Tinman Gallery also has a bookstore with a sizable selection of art books.



Breweries, Vineyards and Wineries


Attending a wine tasting or brewery tour is a sensual indoor activity. There are a number of vineyards in Spokane and they process their own products. These are the ones within the Spokane city limits:


> Arbor Crest Wine Cellars (509-927-9463) has a gift shop where you can purchase from their collection of award-winning wines.


> Barrister Winery makes small amounts of some Bordeaux wines. Visitors can participate in tastings on Friday and Saturday afternoons.


> Caterina Winery (509-328-5069) produces the Bohemian Series of “Artistic Affordable Blends” sold in a winery boutique. Live music provides a background for tastings as well as on the garden patio. Tastings take place afternoons on a daily basis.


> Grande Ronde Cellars (509-928-2788) is a recent enterprise having started operations in 1997.


> Knipprath Cellars (509-534-5121) is responsible for the first locally produced Port.


> Lone Canary Winery (509-534-9062) is owned by the former winemaker for Caterina Winery and two vineyardists who are fans of his wines.


> Mountain Dome Winery (509-928-2788) does tastings during the afternoons on Tuesday through Saturday.


> Robert Karl Cellars (509-363-1353) is a boutique winery that produces handcrafted premium wines.


Laser Quest (509-624-7700) is interactive and fun for ages 7-77. This is live action laser tag unequaled by any other. It is a mixture of fog, music and special effects that combines tag with hide and seek.


Wonderland Family Fun Center (509-468-4386) is open seven days each week. This Fun Center includes the entire family and offers arcade, laser tag, indoor mini golf. Spend the day and experience the pizza and microbrews that appear on the food menu.






A carousel, hand-carved in 1909 by Charles Looff is a National Historic Landmark. Looff created for his daughter as a wedding present. It is still operating and features the old-time brass ring and ring toss. The rider who grabs the brass ring gets a free ride.


There are a variety of parks and playgrounds in Spokane. The list includes Byrne Park, Glass Playfield, Codur D’Alene Park, Gloven Field, Mission Park, Rochester Heights Park, Audubon Park, Audubon Playground and Webster Park.


The Spokane City Tours (509-456-2284) take visitors around the city in small buses with big windows. They stop at scenic and historic points of interest. This guided bus tour lasts 2.5 hours. The memory lasts a lifetime.


The Riverfront Park (509-625-6601) is a legacy left to Spokane by the 1974 World’s Fair. Rides, Spokane Falls Skyride, miniature golf, a tour tram, IMAX theater, the Ice Palace, Looff’s carousel, the rotary fountain and the biggest red wagon can all be found here in Riverfront Park.





Visitor Information Center
201 W Main Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201


Office of the Mayor
City Hall
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd


Chamber of Commerce
801 W Riverside Ave
Spokane, WA 99210


Comments are closed.