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City of Spokane
—  City  —
Downtown Spokane as seen from Palisades Park looking east

Nickname(s): The Lilac City
Motto: Near Nature. Near Perfect.
Location of Spokane in
Spokane County and Washington
Coordinates: 47°39′32″N 117°25′30″W / 47.65889°N 117.425°W / 47.65889; -117.425Coordinates: 47°39′32″N 117°25′30″W / 47.65889°N 117.425°W / 47.65889; -117.425
Country United States
State Washington
County Spokane
 - Type Mayor-Council/Strong Mayor
 - Mayor Mary Verner (D)
 - City 58.5 sq mi (151.6 km2)
 - Land 57.8 sq mi (149.6 km2)
 - Water 0.8 sq mi (2.0 km2)  1.3%
Elevation 2,376 ft (724 m)
Population (2008)
 - City 205,500
 Density 3,387.0/sq mi (1,307.7/km2)
 Metro 600,152
  city[1] metro[2]
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-67000[3]
GNIS feature ID 1512683[4]

Spokane (pronounced /spoʊˈkæn/, us dict: spō·kăn′) is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County,[5] as well as the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 110 miles (180 km) south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from the Washington-Idaho border, and 271 miles (436 km) east of Seattle.

Canadian David Thompson explored the Spokane area and began European settlement with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company’s Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington and the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. In the late 1800s, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The Spokane area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Spokane’s economy has traditionally been natural resource based, however, the city’s economy has diversified to encompass other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors.

The city of Spokane (then known as "Spokane Falls") was settled in 1871 and officially incorporated as a city in 1881. The city's name is drawn from the Native American tribe known as the Spokane, which means "Children of the Sun" in Salish.[6] The name is often mispronounced "Spo-CAIN", while the correct pronunciation is "Spo-CAN". Spokane's official nickname is the "Lilac City", named after the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century.[7] Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought major settlement to the Spokane area.

With a population of 202,319 as of 2008, Spokane is the second largest city in Washington, and the fourth largest in the Pacific Northwest, behind Seattle; Vancouver, BC, Canada; and Portland, Oregon. and slightly larger than Tacoma. Spokane is the principal city of the Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is coterminous with Spokane County. As of 2008, the county had a population of 462,677.[8]

Directly east of Spokane County is the Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area, comprised entirely of Kootenai County, Idaho; the combined population of the two counties was estimated at 600,152 in 2008, fourth largest in the Pacific Northwest behind Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, Canada.[9]



Depicted: Spokane Falls in 1888

The first humans to live in the Spokane area arrived between twelve to eight thousand years ago and were hunter-gatherer societies that lived off the plentiful game in the area. Over time the forests in the area began to thin out and the Native Americans became more dependent upon roots, berries and fish.[10] The Spokane tribe, after which the city is named, are believed to be either direct descendants of the original hunter-gatherers that settled in the region, or descendants of tribes from the Great Plains.[10] When asked by early white explorers, the tribe said their ancestors came from "Up North".[10] The Spokane Falls were the tribe's center of trade and fishing.

Early in the 19th century, the Northwest Fur Company sent two white fur trappers west of the Rocky Mountains to search for fur.[11] The trappers became the first two white men met by the Spokane tribe, who believed them to be Sama, or sacred, and set the trappers up in the Colville River valley for the winter.[12] The tribe discovered the men brought no "big magic" to the tribe as their members continued to die from small pox, which had first struck the tribe in an epidemic in 1782 and wiped out as much as half the tribe's pre-epidemic numbers.[12][13]


Trading post

The Inland Northwest was first explored by Canadian explorer-geographer David Thompson, working as head of the North West Company's Columbia Department.[14] Crossing what is now the U.S.–Canadian border from British Columbia, Thompson wanted to expand the North West Company further south in search of furs, primarily beaver. After establishing the Kullyspell House and Saleesh House trading posts in what is now Idaho and Montana, Thompson wanted to expand further west. In 1810, Thompson sent out trappers, Jacques Raphael Finlay and Finan McDonald to the Spokane River to build a trading post in eastern Washington that would exchange with the local Spokane and Colville Indians.[14]

At the confluence of the Little Spokane and Spokane, Finlay and McDonald built a new fur trading post, which was the first long-term European settlement in Washington state.[14] This trading post known as the Spokane House, or simply "Spokane", was in operation from 1810 to 1826.[15] The Spokane House, operated by the British North West Company and, later, the Hudson's Bay Company, was the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. When the Hudson's Bay Company absorbed the North West Company in 1821, operations at Spokane House eventually shifted to Fort Colville; afterward the company still remained active near Spokane.[16]

American settlement

Joint American–British occupation of Oregon Country, in effect since the Treaty of 1818, ended with the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846. The first American settlers, squatters J.J. Downing and S.R. Scranton, built a cabin and established a claim at Spokane Falls in 1871.[17] Together they built a small sawmill on a claim near the south bank of the Spokane Falls.[17] James N. Glover and Jasper Matheney, Oregonians passing through the region in 1873, recognized the value of the Spokane River and its falls. They realized the investment potential and bought the claims of 160 acres (0.65 km2) and the sawmill from Downing and Scranton for a total of $4,000.[18] Glover and Matheney knew that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company had received a government charter to build a main line across this northern route.[19] Glover later became known as the "Father of Spokane".[20]

On October 21, 1880, Camp Spokane was established by U.S. Army troops under Lt. Col. Henry Clay Merriam at a location 56 miles (90 km) northwest of Spokane at the junction of the Columbia and Spokane Rivers.[21] The camp location was strategic, having the intended goals of protecting construction of the Northern Pacific Railway and securing a place for U.S. settlement.[21]

Spokane ca. 1895

By 1881, the Northern Pacific Railway was completed, bringing major European settlement to the area. The city of Spokan Falls (the "e" was added in 1883 and "Falls" dropped in 1891) was officially incorporated as a city of about 1,000 residents in 1881.[22] Glover became the founder and "Father of Spokane".[22] The city's population ballooned to 19,922 in 1890, and 36,848 in 1900 with the arrival of the railroads.[23] The railroad lured settlers from as far away as Finland, Germany, and England and as close as Minnesota and the Dakotas. By 1910, the population hit 104,000; the building of the Northern Pacific, allowed Spokane to eclipse Walla Walla as the commercial center of the Inland Northwest.[24]

Spokane's growth continued unabated until August 4, 1889, when a fire, now known as The Great Fire, began shortly after 6:00 p.m. and destroyed the city's downtown commercial district.[25] Due to technical problems with a pump station, there was no water pressure in the city when the fire started.[26] In an effort to impede the fire's growth, firefighters began demolishing buildings with dynamite. The fire continued despite this as the flames leaped over the cleared spaces and created their own firestorm. When volunteer firefighters attempted to quench the flames, they found their hoses were unusable. Eventually winds died down and the fire exhausted of its own accord. In the fires' aftermath, 32 blocks of Spokane's downtown were destroyed and one person was killed.[25]

While the damage caused by the fire was a devastating blow, Spokane continued to grow; the fire set the stage for a dramatic building boom.[23] After The Great Fire of 1889 and the rebuilding of the downtown, the city was reincorporated under the present name of "Spokane" in 1891.[27] Just three years after the fire, in 1892, James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway had arrived in the newly created township of Hillyard (annexed by Spokane in 1924)—the chosen site for Hill's rail yards, machine shops, and roundhouse because of the area's flat ground.[28] The railroads in Spokane made it a transportation hub for the Inland Northwest region.[29] Spokane became an important rail and shipping center because of its location between mining and farming areas.[30] After the arrival of the Northern Pacific, the Union Pacific, Great Northern, and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroads, Spokane became one of the most important rail centers in the western United States.[23][29]

20th century

The Great Northern clock tower and U.S. Pavilion in Riverfront Park

The expansion and growth of Spokane abruptly stopped in the 1910s and was followed by a period of population decline.[31] Spokane's slowing economy largely contributed to this decline. Control of regional mines and resources became increasingly dominated by national corporations rather than locals, diverting capital outside of Spokane and decreasing growth and investment opportunities in the city.[31] The 1920s and 1930s saw similar, but less drastic slow growth, also due to economic factors. The Inland Northwest region was heavily dependent on extractive products produced from farms, forests, and mines which experienced a fall in demand.[32] Spokane's situation improved with the start of World War II as aluminum production was initiated in the Spokane valley due to the area's inexpensive electricity and the increased demand for airplanes.

After decades of stagnation and slow growth, Spokane businessmen, headed by King Cole, formed Spokane Unlimited, an organization that sought to revitalize downtown Spokane.[33] Early but modest success came in the form of a new parking garage in 1965. Soon, efforts to revitalize the economy focused on improving Havermale Island in downtown Spokane, which was dominated by railroad depots and warehouses. A recreation park showcasing the Spokane falls was the preferred option, and the organization successfully negotiated with the railroad companies to free up the island property and relocate their rail lines.[34] In the 1970s, Spokane was approaching its one-hundredth birthday, and Spokane Unlimited hired a private firm to start preparations for a celebration and fair.[34] In a report delivered by the firm, the proposal of a world's fair was introduced, which culminated in Expo '74.

Spokane hosted the first environmentally themed World's Fair in Expo '74, becoming the smallest city yet to host a World's Fair.[35] Expo '74 also had the distinction of being the first American fair after World War II to be attended by the Soviet Union. This event transformed Spokane's downtown, removing a century of railroad industry that built the city and reinvented the urban core. After Expo '74, the fairgrounds became the 100-acre (0.40 km2) Riverfront Park.[36] The late 1970s was a period of growth for Spokane which led to the construction in the early 1980s of the two tallest buildings in the city, the 18-story Farm Credit Banks Building and the 20-story Seafirst Financial Center, now the Bank of America building.[37]

The success seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s once again was interrupted by another U.S. recession in which silver, timber, and farm prices dropped. Although a tough period, Spokane's economy had begun to benefit from economic diversification, being the home to growing companies such as Key Tronic and having research, marketing, and assembly plants for other technology companies helped lessen Spokane's dependency on natural resources.[38]

Panorama of Downtown Spokane, looking north, from the Deaconess Medical Center parking garage.



Spokane is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, near the eastern border of Washington, about 20 miles (32 km) from Idaho, 110 miles (180 km) south of the Canadian border, 271 miles (436 km) east of Seattle, and 279 miles (449 km) southwest of Calgary.[39] Spokane is part of the Inland Northwest region, consisting of eastern Washington, northern Idaho, western Montana, and northeastern Oregon.[27] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 58.5 square miles (152 km2), of which, 57.8 square miles (150 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) is water.[40]

The Spokane River flowing by Canada Island

Spokane lies on the eastern edge of the Columbia Basin steppe, a wide sloping plain that rises sharply to the east towards the forested Rocky Mountain foothills, the Selkirk Mountains.[41] The city lies in a transition area between the desert-like Columbia Basin of central Washington and the forested mountains of north Idaho and northeast Washington.[41] The highest peak in Spokane County is Mount Spokane at an elevation of 5,883 feet (1,793 m), located on the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains.[42] The most prominent water feature in the area is the Spokane River, a 111-mile (179 km) tributary of the Columbia River, originating from Lake Coeur d'Alene in northern Idaho.[43] The river flows west across the Washington state line through downtown Spokane, meeting Latah Creek which comes from the south directly west of downtown, then turns to the northwest where it is joined by the Little Spokane River on its way to join the Columbia River, north of Davenport.[44]

Spokane is at an elevation of 1,843 feet (562 m) above sea level.[45] The lowest elevation in the city of Spokane is the northernmost point of the Spokane River within city limits (in Riverside State Park) at 1,608 feet (490 m) and the highest elevation is on the northeast side near the community of Hillyard, though closer to Beacon Hill and the North Hill Reservoir at 2,591 feet (790 m).[46]


Spokane's climate is classified as continental or hemiboreal (Dsb) using the Köppen climate classification, meaning it is semi-arid, has a warm summer, and winters cold enough to maintain snow cover.[47][48] Spokane has the characteristics of a warm, arid climate during the summer months and a cold, coastal climate in the winter.[41] Both summer and winter are the predominant seasons; summers are warm and dry, and winters are cold and somewhat snowy. The average warmest month is August and the average coolest month is January.[49] The normal July maximum is 84 °F (29 °C), minimum 55.3 °F (12.9 °C); the normal January maximum is 31.3 °F (−0.4 °C), minimum of 20 °F (−7 °C); extremes range from 108 °F (42 °C) to −30 °F (−34.4 °C), but temperatures of more than 95 °F (35 °C) and less than −10 °F (−23.3 °C) are rare.[41]

Because of Spokane's location between the Cascade Mountains to the west and Rocky Mountains to the east and north, the city is protected from weather patterns experienced in other parts of the Pacific Northwest. The Cascade Mountains form a barrier to the easterly movement of moist and comparatively mild air from the Pacific Ocean in winter and cool air in summer.[50] As a result of the modifying effect of the Cascade Mountains, the Spokane area also has less than half the rainfall of its west side neighbor, Seattle. The average annual precipitation in the Spokane area is 17 inches (430 mm), whereas the Seattle area receives 37 inches (940 mm) annually.[50] The most precipitation occurs in December, and summer is the driest time of the year.[49] The Rocky Mountains shield Spokane from the winter season’s cold air masses traveling southward across Canada, sparing the city from the worst effects of Arctic air in winter.[50]

Climate data for Spokane, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 31
Average low °F (°C) 20
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.82
Source: [49] January 3, 2007

Metropolitan area

Spokane at night from the southwest

Spokane is surrounded by many incorporated and unincorporated communities, which make up the suburbs of Spokane. They include Airway Heights, Mead, Colbert, Spokane Valley, Millwood, Nine Mile Falls, Otis Orchards, and Liberty Lake. Across the border in Idaho are Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene.


Much of Spokane's history is reflected in its large variety of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods range from the Victorian-era style South Hill and Browne's Addition, to the Davenport Arts District of Downtown, to the more contemporary neighborhoods of North Spokane.

Spokane's neighborhoods are gaining attention for their history, as illustrated by the city being home to 18 recognized National Register Historical Districts, the most in any city in the state of Washington.[51] More than 50% of Spokane’s downtown is designated as historic, and makes up three separate National Register Historic Districts.[6] In all, more than 1,300 individual properties on the National Register are located in Spokane County, 15 of which are districts.[52]

Downtown renewal

Spokane has an extensive Skywalk network

Downtown Spokane has undergone a major rebirth in recent years with over $3 billion in new investments and the completion of River Park Square Mall.[53] The historic Davenport Hotel underwent a major renovation in 2002 after being vacant for over 20 years.[54] Other major projects include the renovation of the Holley Mason Building, the building of the Big Easy concert house (now renamed the Knitting Factory), expansion of the Spokane Convention Center, and the renovation of the historic Montvale Hotel and Fox Theater (now home to the Spokane Symphony). Still more construction is proposed. Local developer Rob Brewster has proposed building the new VOX Tower which, if approved, will become the tallest building in Spokane.[55] All new skyscrapers built in Spokane are subject to city height restrictions.

The Kendall Yards development on the north side of downtown Spokane along the Spokane River will become one of the largest construction projects in the city's history. The proposed development will directly connect to downtown with bridges across the Spokane River and will blend residential and retail space with plazas and walking trails. Upon completion, the nearly 80-acre (0.32 km2) Kendall Yards project will include up to 2,600 residential units and up to 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of commercial, retail, and office space.[56]


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1880 350
1890 19,922 5,592.0%
1900 36,848 85.0%
1910 104,402 183.3%
1920 104,437 0%
1930 115,514 10.6%
1940 122,001 5.6%
1950 161,721 32.6%
1960 181,608 12.3%
1970 170,516 −6.1%
1980 171,300 0.5%
1990 177,196 3.4%
2000 195,629 10.4%
Est. 2008 202,319 3.4%

At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, 92.1% of the population was White (86.4% non-Hispanic White alone), 3.1% Black or African American, 3.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.7% Asian, 0.6% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.1% from some other race. 3.9% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[59] 26.5% of the population had a Bachelor's degree or higher. [60]

As of the 2000 census, there were 195,629 people, 81,512 households, and 47,276 families residing in 87,941 housing units at population density of 3,387 people per square mile (1,307.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.46% White, 2.07% African American, 1.76% Native American, 2.25% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 3.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.99% of the population.

Of the 81,512 households, 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.3% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.0% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.98.[3]

In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.[3]

The median income for a household in the city was $32,273, and the median income for a family was $41,316. Males had a median income of $31,676 versus $24,833 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,451. About 11.1% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.3% of those under the age of 18 and 9.6% of those ages 65 and older.[3]

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives' 2000 Metro Area Membership Report, the denominational groups of the Spokane MSA are 43,397 Evangelical Protestant; 32,207 Mainline Protestant; 776 Orthodox; 57,187 Catholic; 17,351 Other; and 267,021 Unclaimed.[61]


The Spokane Stock Exchange once occupied The Peyton Building

In 1883, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest; as a regional shipping center, the city furnished supplies to the miners who passed through on their way to mine in the Coeur d’Alene as well as the Colville and Kootenay districts.[62] By the mid-1890s, high mining operations were underway in the region.[44] The area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America.[63] Natural resources have traditionally provided much of the economic activity for the Spokane area, a major center for the timber, agriculture, and mining industries in the region.

Companies have located or relocated to the Spokane area, drawn by the easy access to raw materials and lower operating costs, such as cheap hydroelectric power.[64][65] Finished wood products, metal refinery and fabrication, and food processing are among the leaders in manufacturing. Fortune 1000 company, Potlatch Corporation, which operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) and owns and manages timberlands located in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota, and Oregon, is headquartered in Spokane.[66] The surrounding area, especially to the south, is a productive agricultural region known as the Palouse. A number of wineries and breweries also operate in the Spokane area.[67]

Forestry and agribusiness continue to be important elements in the local economy, but Spokane's economy has diversified to encompass other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors.[38] Signature Genomic Laboratories, a fast-growing genetics company, is headquartered in Spokane,[68] and Itron, a producer of metering, data collection, and software products is headquartered in nearby Liberty Lake, Washington.[69] Economic development in Spokane focuses on six industries: manufacturing, aerospace, health sciences, information technology, clean technology, and digital media.[70] Spokane's downtown is the site of a 100-block wireless network—one of the largest of its kind in the country, which is seen as symbolic of its dedication to the development of technological opportunities and resources.[71][72]

In 2000, the leading industries in Spokane for the employed population 16 years and older were educational services, health care, and social assistance, 23.8 percent, and retail trade, 12.7 percent.[3] The health care industry is a large and increasingly important industry in Spokane; the city provides specialized care to many patients from the surrounding Inland Northwest and as far north as the Canadian border. Other industries include construction and mining, manufacturing, transportation, communication and networking utilities, finance, insurance, real estate, and government.[73] Furthermore, all branches of the U.S. armed forces are represented in Spokane County. The largest military facility in the area is Fairchild Air Force Base. Sizable companies with locations in the Spokane region include Agilent, Cisco, F5 Networks, General Dynamics, Goodrich Corporation, Itron, Kaiser Aluminum, Telect, and Triumph Composite Systems.[70]

As the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest as well as southern British Columbia and Alberta, Spokane serves as a commercial, manufacturing, transportation, medical, shopping, and entertainment hub.[74][75] The city is also the hub for the service industries, and the wholesale and retail trade center of the 80,000 square miles (210,000 km2) Inland Northwest region.[70] Due in part because Spokane is the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, and because it lies along the route to many regional attractions, tourism is on the rise in the area.[76] Spokane can be a "base camp" for activities such as river rafting, camping, and other activities in the region.


Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC)

Life in Spokane is heavily influenced by its climate and geographical location. Spokane experiences a four-season climate, and is close in proximity to dozens of lakes and rivers for swimming, boating, rafting, and fishing, as well as mountains for skiing, hiking, and biking. [77] Within a short drive from Spokane, visitors can find 76 lakes, 33 golf courses, 11 wineries, five ski resorts, five major national parks, the Columbia River gorge, and the Grand Coulee Dam.[78] Glacier National Park is just four hours away from Spokane, and Mt. Rainier National Park is four and a half hours away. Other national parks are less than an eight-hour drive away, including the U.S. Yellowstone National Park, and Canada's Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.[78]

Spokane is big enough to have many amenities of a larger city, but small enough to support annual events and traditions with a small town atmosphere. Spokane was awarded the All-American City Award by the National Civic League in 1974 and 2004. The National Civic League is an organization which recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.[79][80] There are several museums in the city, most notably the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), a Smithsonian affiliate museum that houses a large collection of Native American artifacts as well as regional and national traveling art exhibits.[81] Located in Browne's Addition amid the mansions of Spokane's late 19th-century golden age, the Museum is in a secluded setting a few blocks from the center of downtown.

Arts and theater

Spokane hosts a variety of visual and performing arts scenes. These attractions include a major civic theater as well as several smaller ones, the Spokane Symphony, a jazz orchestra, an opera house, and other musical venues.

Spokane has a vibrant art scene. Spokane's two main Artwalk dates (the first Friday of February and October) attract large crowds to the art districts. Spokane's main art districts are located in the Davenport District, the Garland Business District, and East Sprague.[82] The First Friday Artwalk, which occurs the first Friday of every month, is dedicated to local vendors and performers displaying art around Downtown.[83] The Davenport District is also home to many art galleries as well as some of Spokane's main performing arts venues.[84]

Spokane offers an array of musical performances catering to a variety of interests. The Spokane Symphony Orchestra presents a full season of classical music, and the Spokane Jazz Orchestra, a full season of jazz music. The Spokane Symphony is a non-profit organization that was originally incorporated as the Spokane Philharmonic in 1945.[85] The Spokane Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit organization formed in 1962 that claims to be the nation's oldest, continually performing, professional, and community-supported 17-piece big band.[86]

Theater is provided by Spokane's only resident professional company, Interplayers Ensemble.[87] Theater is also provided by Spokane Civic Theatre and several amateur community theaters and smaller groups. Fox Theater, which has been restored to its original 1931 Art Deco state, is the home of the Spokane Symphony. The Metropolitan Performing Arts Center was restored in 1988 and renamed Bing Crosby Theater in honor of Spokane native Bing Crosby in 2006.[88]

The 1985 film Vision Quest, featuring a live performance by Madonna was filmed on location in Spokane in 1984.

Parks and recreation

The Spokane area offers an abundance of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in outlying natural areas that may cater to a variety of interests, including miles of hiking trails, many lakes for fishing and watersports, and numerous parks for sightseeing. In 1907, Spokane's board of park commissioners retained the services of the Olmsted Brothers to draw up a plan for Spokane's parks.[89] Much of Spokane's park land was acquired by the city prior to World War I, establishing the city early on as a leader among Western cities in the development of a city-wide park system.[90] Today, Spokane has a system of over 75 parks totaling 3,488 acres (14.12 km2).[91] Some of the most notable parks in Spokane's extensive park system are Riverfront Park, Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, Riverside State Park, and the John A. Finch Arboretum.

View of the Duncan Garden at Manito Park

Riverfront Park, created after Expo '74 and occupying the same site, is 100 acres (0.40 km2) in downtown Spokane and the site of some of Spokane's largest events.[92] The park has views of the Spokane Falls, and holds a number of civic attractions, including a Skyride that is a rebuilt gondola that carries visitors across the falls from high above the river gorge, a 5-story IMAX theater, and a small amusement park (which is converted into an ice-skating rink during the winter months) with numerous rides and concessions.[92] The park is host to a full schedule of family entertainment and events such as the Bloomsday Post-Race Celebration, Hoopfest, the IMAX Film Festival, Spokane Music Festival, Pig Out in the Park, Restaurant Fair, Pow Wow, First Night Spokane, and outdoor concerts and other community activities. The park also includes the hand-carved Riverfront Park Looff carousel created in 1909 by Charles I. D. Looff as a wedding present for his daughter.[93] The carousel still operates in Riverfront Park, where riders can participate in an old-time ring toss. The carousel continues to offer a free ride to the rider who grabs the brass ring. Riverfront Park also includes ample views of the Spokane falls as well as other water features of the Spokane River. Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, on Spokane's South Hill, has a duck pond, a central conservatory named in memory of Dr. David Gaiser, Duncan Gardens, a classical European Renaissance style garden, and the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden designed by Nagao Sakurai. Riverside State Park, is a scenic park close to downtown that is a site for hiking, mountain biking, and rafting. The John A. Finch Arboretum, is a 57-acre (0.23 km2) public arboretum featuring a variety of rare and native trees and wildlife.

A more active way to see natural sites in the Spokane area include travelling the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which features over 37 miles (60 km) of paved trails running along the Spokane River from Sontag Park in west Spokane to the east shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This trail is often used for alternative transportation and recreational use, such as running, walking, cycling, or skating.

In addition to the park system within the city, there are many natural areas where outdoors activities can be enjoyed close by. In the summer, one may visit Lake Coeur d'Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake, or one of the other nearby bodies of water. The Spokane area has 76 lakes and numerous rivers, where various water sports, fishing, camping, and rafting can take place. In the winter, the public has access to five ski resorts within a couple hours of the city, including Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho, Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area in Mullan, Idaho, and 49 Degrees North Ski Area in Chewelah, Washington.[94] The closest ski area is Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, operated by a non-profit organization. Mt. Spokane has trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. During the non-winter months, hikers and mountain bikers may use the trails.

Events and activities

Spokane is home to annual events and attractions that draw people from the surrounding area. Every year in May, Spokane hosts the Lilac Festival, which features many events including the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade held the third Sunday of May.[95] The Lilac Bloomsday Run, held on the first Sunday of each May, is a 7.46-mile (12.01 km) race competitive runners, as well as walkers, that typically draws about 45,000 participants.[96] Hoopfest is held the last weekend in June, and has a variety of participants, from kids, teens, and adults to former college and NBA players, in their respective brackets. Hoopfest started in 1989 with just 300+ teams, but now the event averages more than 25,000 participants or around 6,000 3-4 person teams annually.[97]

Film festivals held in Spokane include The Spokane International Film Festival and The Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Held every February, The Spokane International Film Festival is a small, juried festival that features documentaries and shorts from around the world.[98] The Spokane Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which is held every November, features contemporary, "independent films" of interest to the GLBT community.[99] Also, The Garland Village Arts & Music Festival takes place the second Saturday every August.

Other notable events in Spokane include the Spokane Interstate Fair, Spokane Comic con, Japan Week, Get Lit!, and The Spokane Pride Parade. The Spokane Interstate Fair is held annually in September at the Fair and Expo Center which recently completed an $18 million dollar expansion.[100] Japan Week is held in April and celebrates the sister-city relationship with Nishinomiya, Hyogo, demonstrating the many commonalities shared between the two cities.[101] Students from the Spokane campus of Mukogawa Institute, Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Spokane Falls and Spokane Community College organize an array of Japanese cultural events, in addition to a number of others that take place around the city. Get Lit! is an annual literary festival held each April for readers and writers sponsored by the Eastern Washington University Press.[102] Get Lit! features author presentations, reading and writing workshops, panels, and author visitations to schools throughout the eastern Washington and northern Idaho area. The Spokane Pride Parade held each June draws gays, lesbians, and others in celebration of the value of diversity.[103]


Spokane Arena, home of the Spokane Chiefs and Spokane Shock

Spokane's professional sports teams include the Spokane Shock (Arena Football 1), Spokane Indians (Northwest League), Spokane Chiefs (Western Hockey League), Spokane Sunz (American Basketball Association), and the Spokane Spiders (Premier Development League).[104]

Collegiate sports in Spokane focus on the local teams such as the Gonzaga Bulldogs that compete in the West Coast Conference (WCC) as well as other Inland Northwest teams including the Washington State Cougars, Eastern Washington Eagles, and the Idaho Vandals.

In 1995, the Spokane Public Facilities District opened Spokane's premier sports venue, the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena to replace the aging Spokane Coliseum. In the years since the Spokane Arena opened, it along with the city of Spokane have played host to several major sporting events. The first major event the 1998 Memorial Cup, the championship game of the Canadian Hockey League.[105] Four years later in 2002, Spokane hosted the 2002 Skate America figure skating competition,[106] as well as the first two rounds of NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament. The Spokane Arena is the perennial host to the State 2B Basketball Championships, which brings athletes and fans from across Washington to Spokane.

Spokane hosted the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the Spokane Arena.[107] The event set an attendance record, selling nearly 155,000 tickets and was later named the "Sports Event of the Year" by Sports Travel Magazine, beating out events such as Super Bowl XLI.[108] Fans, analysts and athletes, including Ice Dancing champion Tanith Belbin, spoke highly of the city's performance as host, which included large, supportive crowds. On May 5, 2008, it was announced that Spokane will once again host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2010—ending eighteen days before the start of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.[107]

Club Sport League Stadium (or Arena)
Spokane Shock Arena Football Arena Football League Spokane Arena
Spokane Indians Baseball Northwest League (Eastern Division) Avista Stadium
Spokane Chiefs Ice hockey Western Hockey League (U.S. Division) Spokane Arena
Spokane Sunz Basketball American Basketball Association (2000-) (Northwest Conference) Spokane Community College Gymnasium
Spokane Spiders Soccer Premier Development League (Northwest Division) Greyhound Park


The Review Building

Spokane is serviced by a variety of print media. Newspaper service includes its only major daily newspaper, The Spokesman-Review,[109] as well as other more specialized publications including the weekly alternative newspaper, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, the bi-weekly business journal, The Spokane Journal of Business, a monthly newspaper for parents, Kids newspaper, the monthly GLBT newsmagazine, Q View Northwest, a monthly outdoor activities paper, Out There Monthly, and the monthly paper covering the Garland neighborhood, The Garland Times.

Spokane also has several community magazines. Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living is a monthly home and lifestyle magazine, The Spokane Sidekick is a bi-weekly arts & entertainment guide, The Word is a monthly humor publication, HomeTeam Sports is a tabloid dedicated to local sports in the area, and The Family Guide is an annual publication distributed through the Spokane and Coeur d' Alene grade schools that contains resources to celebrate and strengthen family life in the Inland Northwest.

According to Arbitron, Spokane is the 92nd largest radio market in the United States with 502,600 listeners aged 12 and over.[110] Twenty-eight AM and FM radio stations broadcast in Spokane. Spokane has one low power (LPFM) community radio station — KYRS-LP. KYRS serves the Spokane area with progressive perspectives, filling needs that other media do not, providing programming to diverse communities and unserved or under-served groups.

Spokane is the 75th largest television market in the United States, accounting for 0.364% of the total TV households in the United States.[111] Spokane has six television stations representing the major commercial networks and public television. The city is the television broadcast center for much of eastern Washington (except the Yakima and Tri-Cities area), north Idaho, northwestern Montana, northeastern Oregon, and parts of Canada (by cable television). Montana and Alberta, Canada are in the Mountain Time Zone and receive Spokane broadcasts one hour earlier by their local time. Spokane receives broadcasts in the Pacific Time Zone. The major network television affiliates include KREM-TV 2 (CBS), KXLY-TV 4 (ABC), KHQ-TV 6 (NBC) (Spokane's first television station, signing on the air on December 20, 1952), KSPS-TV 7 (PBS), KXMN-LP 11 (MNTV), KSKN-TV 22 (CW), KCDT-TV 26 (PBS operating out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho), KAYU-TV 28 (Fox), KGPX-TV 34 (ION), KQUP 47LP (RTN) (translator for ch. 24 in Pullman, Washington), and K55EB 55 (TBN) (a translator for KTBN).

KSBN uses a mast radiator on top of Delaney Building, which is a really unique antenna system.

Government and politics

Spokane City Hall

The City of Spokane operates under a Mayor-Council form of government, also referred to as a "Strong Mayor". Spokane switched to a Strong Mayor system in January 2001, after 40 years of running under a Council-Manager system.[112] Spokane passed the initiative changing the form of government in November 1999.[113] The Strong Mayor initiative created distinct legislative and executive branches within the city government. Under the Strong Mayor form of government, there are two distinct branches of government: the Executive (Mayor) and the Legislative (City Council).[113] The City Council sets the policy direction for the city. The Mayor, as the Chief Executive Officer for the City of Spokane, is in charge of operating city government and implementing the policies developed by the City Council.

Other key elected members in the government are the seven members of the Spokane City Council (two elected from each of three districts, plus a President elected through a city-wide vote), who make up the legislative branch of the city's government.[114] In addition to setting policy, the City Council passes ordinances, and guides the city through legislative efforts.

The current mayor of Spokane is Mary Verner; she became mayor on November 27, 2007, replacing Dennis P. Hession, who conceded on November 9, 2007.[115] Hession was sworn in on January 3, 2006, after the recall of Jim West.[116]

Federally, Spokane is part of Washington's 5th congressional district, represented by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, elected in 2004.

The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Patty Murray, elected in 1992. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Maria Cantwell, elected in 2000. The Governor of Washington is Democrat Christine Gregoire, elected in 2004.[117]

Spokane is regarded as being a conservative city, that tends to favor Republicans in elections.[118] Although John McCain carried Spokane County by 50%-48% in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections,[119] the city itself favored Obama over McCain by 60%-37%.[120] Former Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Foley served as a representative of Washington's 5th district for 30 years, enjoying large support from Spokane, until his narrow defeat in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. The city elected James Everett Chase as its first African American mayor in 1981, and after his retirement, electing the city's first woman mayor, Vicki McNeil.[118][121]


Gonzaga University

Serving the general educational needs of the local population are two public library districts, the Spokane Public Library and the Spokane County Library District. Founded in 1904 with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the Spokane Public Library system comprises a downtown library overlooking Spokane Falls and 6 branch libraries.[122] Special collections include Northwest history, genealogy, Washington state, and Spokane County government documents.[123]

Spokane Public Schools (District 81) is the largest public school system in Spokane and the second largest in the state, serving roughly 30,000 students in 6 high schools, 6 middle schools, and 34 elementary schools.[124] Other public school districts in Spokane include the Central Valley School District, Mead School District, and West Valley School District. A variety of state-approved private elementary and secondary schools augment the public school system.

Spokane is home to many higher education institutions. They include the private universities, Gonzaga and Whitworth, and the public Community Colleges of Spokane system as well as an ITT Tech and University of Phoenix campus. Gonzaga University and Law School, was founded by the Jesuits in 1887.[125] Whitworth was founded in 1890 and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.[126] While Spokane is one of the larger cities in the United States to lack a main campus of a state-supported university within its city limits, Eastern Washington University (EWU) and Washington State University (WSU) have operations at the Riverpoint Campus, just adjacent to downtown and across the Spokane River from the Gonzaga campus.[127] The main EWU campus is located 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Spokane in nearby Cheney, and WSU is located 65 miles (105 km) to the south in Pullman.


Deaconess Medical Center


Spokane is the hub for medical services in the Inland Northwest. Six major hospitals are located in Spokane, four of which are full service facilities.[128] The region's healthcare needs are served primarily by Seattle-based Providence Health & Services and Spokane-based Empire Health Services, two non-profit organizations who run the two biggest hospitals in Spokane, Sacred Heart Medical Center (Spokane), and Deaconess Medical Center, respectively. The two hospitals, along with a majority of Spokane's major health care facilities are located on Spokane's Lower-South Hill, just south of downtown. The close proximity of the hospitals, doctors' offices, and specialized clinics scattered around this area, form what is known as the "Medical District" of Spokane.

Other hospitals in the area include the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the northwest part of town, Holy Family Hospital on the north side, and Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane Valley. One of the twenty Shriners Hospitals in the United States is also located in Spokane.[129]


Roads and highways

Spokane's streets use a street grid that is oriented to the four cardinal directions. Generally in Spokane, the east-west roads are designated as avenues, and the north-south roads are referred to as streets. Major east-west thoroughfares in the city include Francis, Wellesley, Mission, Sprague, and 29th avenues. Major north-south thoroughfares include Maple-Ash, Monroe, Division, Hamilton, Greene-Market (north of I-90), and Ray-Freya (south of I-90). With over 40,000 vehicles per day ADT from Interstate 90 north to the US 2 - US 395 junction, North Division is Spokane's busiest corridor.[130]

I-90 as it descends down Sunset Hill into Spokane

Spokane is primarily served by Interstate 90, which runs east-west from Seattle, through downtown Spokane, and eastward through Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, and onward to Coeur d'Alene.[131] Although they are not limited access highways like I-90, US 2 and US 395 enter Spokane from the west via I-90 and continue north through Spokane via Division St. The two highways share the same route until they reach "The Y", where US 395 continues northward to Deer Park then onward to Canada, and US 2 branches off to the northeast, continuing to Mead, Chattaroy, Newport, and Sandpoint.

Over the past decade, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has aggressively improved local highways to keep up with the region's growth and to try to prevent congestion problems that plague many large cities around the country. In 2005, the WSDOT completed the first two phases of its I-90 Spokane-Idaho State Line widening project. Currently the interstate has been widened to six lanes through Spokane Valley, but another $210 million in funding is still needed to widen the last segment between Sullivan Road and the Idaho state line.[132]

North Spokane Corridor

The Department of Transportation is currently constructing the North Spokane Corridor. When completed, the corridor will be a 10.5-mile (16.9 km) long limited access highway that will run from I-90 in the vicinity of the Thor/Freya interchange northward through Spokane, meeting the existing US 395 just south of Wandermere Golf Course.[133] The north-south freeway is expected to take over $2 billion to complete (over $3 billion if inflation is factored in).[133] The first drivable link of the freeway was officially opened to traffic on August 22, 2009 and runs from Farwell Road near US 2 south to the vicinity of Francis Avenue & Market Street (approximately 4 miles (6.4 km)). Construction is currently under way at US 2 near Shady Slope Road, where contractors are replacing a small culvert with a much larger one which will accommodate both fish and wildlife passage under the highway structures, and constructing bridge and on-ramp structures which will create an interchange connecting US 2 with the US 395 North Spokane Corridor; this segment is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-2011, followed by the final project on the north end of the corridor, which will connect US 395 with the NSC the following year. The rest of the freeway will be built as funding is made available.

Public transportation

STA bus

Before the influx of automobiles, people got around by using Spokane's streetcar system. Many of the older side streets in Spokane still have visible streetcar rails embedded in them, as they were never removed.[134] Streetcar service was abandoned due to declining ridership in 1922 to 1933, and streetcar companies began to convert all of their routes to buses.

Today, mass transportation throughout the Spokane area is provided by the Spokane Transit Authority (STA). STA currently operates approximately 151 buses and has a service area that covers roughly 143 square miles (370 km2).[135] A large percentage of STA bus routes originate from the central hub, the STA Plaza, in downtown Spokane. Passengers who stop at The Plaza can transfer to virtually any other Spokane Transit route.

Talk of constructing a rapid-transit system began in earnest in the late-1990s, with a light rail system being a preferred option to bus rapid transit. The proposed light rail line was to run from The Plaza eastward through the Spokane Valley to Liberty Lake, with future extensions from The Plaza to Spokane International Airport, Liberty Lake to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and a line running in the median of the currently-being-constructed, North Spokane Corridor.[136] In 2005, the $263 million project was narrowly defeated by voters, shelving the project for the time being. A non-profit, non-partisan citizens group, The Inland Empire Rail Transit Association (also known as InlandRail), was created to continue the public dialog.[136]

Spokane has rail and bus service provided by Amtrak and Greyhound via the Spokane Intermodal Center. The city is a stop for Amtrak's Empire Builder on its way from Chicago.[137] Through service continues once a night to both Seattle and Portland, a reflection of the old Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway.


Spokane, Eastern Washington and North Idaho are served by Spokane International Airport (GEG). Spokane International Airport is the second largest airport in the state of Washington and is recognized by the FAA as a small hub.[138] The airport is located 5 miles (8.0 km) west of downtown Spokane and is approximately a 10-minute drive away. Spokane International Airport is served by ten major airlines and three air cargo carriers.[138] The international airport three letter designation is "GEG", a result and legacy of the Geiger Field days prior to 1960, when the airport was named after Army aviator Major Harold Geiger in 1941.[139]

Felts Field is a general aviation airport serving Spokane County and is located in east Spokane along the Spokane River. Felts Field served as Spokane's primary airport until Spokane International Airport was built.

Mead Flying Service is a small, privately owned airport located approximately one mile north of Mead, Washington in Spokane County[140]

Deer Park Municipal Airport is located approximately 22 miles north of Spokane. Though small, the airport with two runways accounts for 67.9 jobs, and $4,077,316 in economic activity for the Spokane area.[141]


The City of Spokane provides municipal water, wastewater management, and solid waste management. Spokane operates Washington’s only waste-to-energy plant, as well as two solid waste transfer stations in the Spokane area as part of the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, a collaboration between the City of Spokane and Spokane County.[142] Electricity generated by the waste-to-energy plant is used to operate the facility with excess energy being sold to Puget Sound Energy.[142][143] Natural gas and electricity is provided by Avista Utilities, while Qwest and Comcast provide television, internet, and telephone service.

Sister cities

Spokane has four sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also


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  96. ^ "Bloomsday History". Lilac Bloomsday Association. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  97. ^ "A History: 1990-Present". Spokane Hoopfest Association. Retrieved December 14, 2008. 
  98. ^ "Spokane International Film Festival". Spokane International Film Festival. Retrieved January 24, 2009. 
  99. ^ "Spokane's GLBT Film Festival". Spokane Film Festival. Retrieved January 24, 2009. 
  100. ^ "Spokane Interstate Fair". Fair and Expo Center. Retrieved March 29, 2009. 
  101. ^ "Japan Week Spokane". Japan Week Spokane. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 
  102. ^ "The Get Lit! Mission Statement". Eastern Washington University. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 
  103. ^ "About OutSpokane". OutSpokane. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 
  104. ^ "Recreation & Sports". Experience Spokane. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
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  106. ^ "2002 Smart Ones Skate America". U.S. Figure Skating. October 27, 2002. Retrieved January 24, 2009. 
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  108. ^ "2007 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships named "Sports Event of the Year"". KHQ (WorldNow and KHQ). October 27, 2007. Retrieved December 15, 2008. 
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  110. ^ "Arbitron Radio Market Rankings: Spring 2008". Arbitron Inc.. March 14, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2008. 
  111. ^ "Local Television Market Universe Estimates". Nielsen Media Research, Inc.. September 27, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  112. ^ "City Government". City of Spokane. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
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  116. ^ Wiley, John K. (January 23, 2006). "New Spokane mayor sworn in, succeeds recalled Jim West". The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved January 24, 2009. 
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  140. ^ "Mead Flying Service - Spokane, WA". WSDOT. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
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Further reading

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Spokane [1] is a city in eastern Washington. It is the second largest city in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest region, the largest city in the Inland Northwest, and the largest city in eastern Washington. The city's nickname is "The Lilac City".

Downtown Spokane from Riverfront Park
Downtown Spokane from Riverfront Park


Spokane is the economic hub of a surrounding agricultural area that serves roughly 1.5 million people. Its immediate metropolitan area is home to roughly 500,000 citizens and the city proper is home to 200,000. It is a rather conservative area, with a rather liberal city proper, and has a fairly small racial minority population (around 10%).

Spokane is the county seat of Spokane County.[2]

Get in

By plane

Spokane International Airport [3] is a few miles to the west of Downtown. It operates flights regularly to the hub cities of Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Non-hub cities include Boise and Oakland. Although Spokane has an international airport, there are no direct international flights at this time (though there were in the past to Canada). Flights to/from Canada normally go through Seattle (most common), Minneapolis, or Chicago. If everything is full, you might have to go further south. Currently, there's no way to get to Calgary and Edmonton without flying to a quite out-of-the-way hub city.

By train

Spokane is located on Amtrak's [4] Empire Builder route, which operates between Seattle/Portland and Chicago. Spokane is located at the point where westbound trains are split in half, one half going to Seattle through the Cascades and the other half to Portland-Vancouver along the Columbia River Gorge, and where eastbound trains from those cities are joined together to continue eastward. The Empire Builder connects with Amtrak's Coast Starlight in Seattle and Portland and with many other trains in Chicago. The Amtrak intermodal station, which is shared with Greyhound buses, is a new facility located downtown, close to major hotels and attractions.

By bus

Same goes for Greyhound. You can get to Spokane on Greyhound from just about anywhere in the U.S. Its station is the intermodal one previously mentioned.

STA Bus in Downtown
STA Bus in Downtown

The STA (Spokane Transit Authority) is an excellent way to get around to the North, South, and West sides as well as to the Valley and Liberty Lake in the east. Public Transit is a great way to get to meet the people of a city. Bus route maps can be found in a few stores and and gas stations. Most drivers are very friendly and helpful so ask any questions you may have.

Beginning December 4, 2006 STA will be moving to a new farebox and adding 2 hour and all day passes. With the new fare boxes you must ask the driver for a pass before you put your fare in the fare box.[5]

By Car

Car rentals are available in many locations, mainly near the Spokane International Airport.

Interstate 90 is an excellent way to cross town East-West, but beware the construction all throughout the freeway areas.

Check with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for current driving conditions. [6]

By Bike

Spokane is located in a valley, bicycling around can be difficult due to the hills. This can be complicated by weather, which can be cold and snowy in winter and hot and dry in the summer.

The Centennial Trail runs along the Spokane River from downtown Coeur d'Alene on through the Spokane Valley and downtown Spokane ending in Riverside State Park. It is good for bicycling, roller blading, or walking.

  • Downtown Spokane is the hub of the region dubbed "The Inland Northwest." It is the center for all of your shopping centers, medical centers, main attractions and hotels. [7]
  • Riverfront Park was the host of the 1974 World's Fair. All the pavilions still exist, and the park itself is beautifully maintained. Maps of downtown Spokane (which include a park map) can be found in most hotels and stores and gas stations nearby. [8]
Our Downtown Oasis - Riverfront Park
Our Downtown Oasis - Riverfront Park
  • Manito Park located between 18th Ave and 25nd Ave, West of Grand Blvd. East of Bernard Street. Its steep hills make it a popular wintertime sledding spot. A zoo until 1933, Manito is now a year-round home to a friendly flock of geese and ducks. Visit the park's Rose Garden in the Summer, or the free Japanese Gardens on the Bernard Street side of the park. [9]
  • Monroe Street Bridge newly opened after 2 years of reconstruction. This bridge was built in 1911 and is the largest arch bridge in the United States of America. Take a beautiful walk across the falls of the Spokane River. On the outskirts of Downtown (Locals know it well, just ask one).
  • Riverside State Park Bowl and Pitcher is basalt rock formations in the middle of the fast flowing Spokane River. Overlook and suspension bridge on east side is a great way to experience Spokane's motto: Near Nature Near Perfect. [10]
  • The Knitting Factory is one of the Northwest's premier concert houses. It is a 1,500-capacity concert venue, and features top performers from around the world as well as dance club nights hosted weekly. It is easily found in the heart of Downtown Spokane, on the corner of Sprague and Monroe. [11]
  • Spokane County Courthouse Located at W 1116 Broadway. Worth a visit. This interesting courthouse was completed in 1895 in 16th century French Renaissance style. [12]
  • Cat Tales Zoological Park, 17020 N Newport Hwy, Mead, WA, +1 509 238-4126, [13]. Adults $8, Seniors & Students $6, Children (12 & Under) $5.  edit
  • Finch Arboretum, West 3404 Woodlawn Blvd. (Southwest of town just off Sunset Blvd.). Free.  edit
  • Broadview Dairy Museum/Caterina Winery The Broadview Dairy building has been a landmark in Spokane since the 1920's, originally built as a commercial dairy, the facility is now more open to the public, and now includes a milk production museum, the still operating dairy, and the Caterina Winery. [14]
  • Davenport Arts District - at 2nd and Madison
  • Ft. George Wright National Historical District
  • Gonzaga University
  • Mobius Childrens Museum
  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
  • One of a Kind in the World Museum
  • Spokane Falls

Tour Guides

ROW Adventure Center- Rated as one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" by National Geographic this company offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, bike tours, hiking tours and fly fishing in and around Spokane, WA. You can book most trips online and they are very affordable. They have a Adventuer Center right downtown in Spokane, WA. You can also call: Toll Free: (800) 451-6034.


Golf- There are 33 golf courses within a short drive of the city center. The city of Spokane runs 4 Public golf courses including the award winning Indian Canyon, Spokane County runs 6 other public courses. The Coeur d'Alene resort golf course features a green floating in the lake.

Spokane Rafting- The Spokane River offers great whitewater rafting. Some parts of the year, rafters can experience up to class IV rapids. The ROW Adventure Centerruns rafting trips on the Upper Spokane (gentle float trips) and the Lower Spokane which starts just under the Spokane Falls Downtown Spokane and ends near 5 mile at the end of Riverside State Park. It's a beautiful trip with great rapids.

Kayak Spokane- Spokane has a great kayaking club and it's a good way to experience the outdoors and the city. There are guided kayak tours available too.

Spokane Bike Tours- During the summer months, Spokane is a beautiful city to explore on a bike. A trip through Riverside State Park is a must. Centennial Trail bike rides and tours are another way to go through the city, learn about the history of the area and enjoy the outdoors. The ROW Adventure Center offers an inexpensive option called the Pedal and Paddle series that combines rafting or kayaking with bike tours.

  • Bloomsday[15] This 12 kilometer run/walk is perfect for anyone of any age. Bloomsday is the worlds largest timed road race with over 50,000 participants each year. The race is always the first Sunday in May.
  • Lilac Festival[16] The country's largest Armed Forces Day celebration including the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. Held annually on the third Saturday in May.
  • Hoopfest[17] The worlds largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament, with courts spread out all over downtown. Hoopfest takes place over the last weekend in June.
  • OutSpokane Pride Parade & Rainbow Festival [18] Eastern Washington's largest Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered festival. Held annually every June.
  • Spokane Gay/Lesbian Film Festival [19] Held annually on the first weekend of November, the festival presents a weekend of independent film.
  • Huckleberry's Natural Market 926 South Monroe Street (509) 624-1349 7am-10pm The 9th Street Bistro inside this grocery store is a bustling cafe that serves $4.00 breakfast specials. Vegetarian friendly deli. Enjoy a toasted bagel with lox from the meat counter, or some freshly rolled sushi. Huckleberry's is the only natural grocery store of its kind in Eastern Washington. Large wine and bulk foods selection.
  • River Park Square[20] Recently renovated shopping center located in the center of downtown, just across from Riverfront Park. River Park Square is home to a 20 screen movie theater. Upscale stores such as Nordstroms, Williams Sonoma, Macy's and Restoration Hardware. A diverse collection of specialty stores selling items ranging from walking sticks to chocolates. Satisfy your hunger at the fast food court or at one of its many sit down restaurants. River Park Square is also a great place for kids with a childrens museum, bookstore and toy store. Skywalks connect River Park Square with the rest of downtown.
  • Dick's Hamburgers, 10 East 3rd Avenue, 509-747-2481. A Spokane institution, serving up the quickest and most efficient cholesterol-delivery systems in the state.
  • Didier's Yogurt & More, 10410 N Division St, 509-466-8434. Quality fast food from a family owned business. Great burgers and frozen yogurt. Located on the north side near Whitworth College.
  • Bennidito's Pizza [21] 1426 S. Lincoln, 509-455-7411. A local jewel, recently expanded. The pizza and calzones are fantastic. Always some good beers on tap, or you can get a bucket full. Recommended: garlic cheese bread, beer buddies, chicken wings, pesto ranch dressing, hot italian sausage, saxon pizza, New Yorker calzone.
  • Longhorn Barbecue, 2315 N Argonne, 509-924-9600.
  • Chicken-N-Mo, 414 1/2 W Sprague Ave, 509-838-5071. "Soul Food", Catfish, Ribs, etc. Located in Downtown.
  • The Elk Public House,1931 W Pacific Ave; 509-363-1973. Eclectic to Standard food, large selection of microbrews on tap. Outdoor seating in the historic Brownes Addition.
  • The Rockwood Bakery [22] 315 East 18th Avenue. Located less than a block from Manito Park, The Rockwood Bakery is great for a mid-day coffee or pastry after a day in the park.
  • Coffee Social [23] 3113 W. Indiana, 509-327-7127. Coffee Social is a locally owned organic coffee house located on Indiana, 1.5 blocks west of Division. They serve Doma coffee and yummy food made with organic and locally sourced ingredients. Tuesday nights are game night, and Thursday nights might have music. Hours are 7 AM to 10 PM every day, and they offer a 10% discount on the drink of your choice if you arrive by foot, bike or bus. The free wi-fi and laid back atmosphere make this a great place to spend some time. Mondays: open mic/jam night, Tuesdays: game night, Thursdays: acoustic music night.
  • Saunders Cheese Market [24] 210 S. Washington, 509-455-9400. Located in the east central part of downtown, this shop offers many cheeses from the United States, including the Pacific Northwest, and abroad. Cheese plates are also offered, and there is wine by the glass, or you can bring in wine from the conveniently neighboring Vino! Wine Shop.


Being a Western city in the U.S., it has its fair share of bars and taverns. Washington state law says Bars can sell alcoholic beverages of their choice, while Taverns are restricted to Beer and wines and such. Along Sprague in Downtown, there are a fair number of Bars and Taverns.

  • Jack & Dan's Bar & Grill: [25] 1226 N. Hamilton Street, 509-487-6546. Classic sports bar owned by the father of former NBA & Gonzaga University star John Stockton. Sitting on the edge of Gonzaga University, it naturally caters to the students and is packed to watch basketball games. Children are welcome in the restaurant until 10 PM.
  • Far West Billiards: [26] 1001 W. 1st Ave, 509-455-3429. Located in the historic Montvale Hotel at First and Monroe in downtown Spokane, Far West Billiards is the choice for an evening of great food, premium drinks, and casual pool. They pour only premium liquors, use only fresh fruit (no mixes), and always have several interesting beers on tap.
  • The Viking Tavern: [27] 1221 N. Stevens, 509-326-2942. A pub requires a healthy flow of suds. The Viking Tavern, long a Spokane beer mecca, has 26 beers on tap and 125-plus in bottles, and always free popcorn. To encourage variety, the Viking has an annual Tour de Beers contest in which participants try to make their way through as many brews as possible between May and September. Winners get Tour de Beers shirts and hats. Friday nights they usually have interesting music.
  • Northern Lights Brewing Co.: 1003 E. Trent, 509-242-2739. For fresh local beer, head to Northern Lights Brewing Co., on the banks of the Spokane River. This is a true brewpub, offering sampler trays (and pints, of course) of its fine locally made ales, including its famous Crystal Bitter and Chocolate Dunkel. Northern Lights also has an ambitious food menu.
  • O'Doherty's Irish Grille: [28] W. 525 Spokane Falls Blvd., 509-747-0322. This is a place to gather, chat, tip a pint and enjoy a little Irish flavor. Guinness and Harp on tap. Live Irish music on Tuesday nights. After you've been there a while you'll probably want to become a member of the O'Doherty's family by standing on the bar, singing a song for the entire bar, and stapling a dollar on the wall. Children are welcome in the restaurant until 10 PM.
  • Twigs Bistro, 401 E Farwell Spokane WA 99218. 10-11. Twigs is first a martini bar and second a restaurant. However, their breakfast, which is only sold on the weekend, is superb. Their Creme Brule French Toast is wonderful. Dinner is a typical menu, burgers, pizza, etc. Their drink selection is very good.  edit
  • Red Lion Hotel at the Park Spokane Hotel, 303 West North River Drive, Spokane, WA 99201, 509-326-8000, [29]. Situated at the edge of Riverfront Park, on the banks of the cascading Spokane River, the Red Lion Hotel at the Park is a beautifully renovated hotel that delivers a new level of hospitality to business and vacation travelers in Spokane, Washington.  edit
  • The Davenport Hotel and Tower, 10 South Post Street, +1 509 455-8888, [30]. Located in the heart of downtown, the Davenport Hotel and Tower offers luxury accommodations and first class service. From their own custom made "Davenport Bed" to the three award winning restaurants and bars, the historic hotel doesn't skimp on details. The hotel, which under went a multimillion dollar renovation in 2002,is locally owned and operated and it shows in the personal service received. You can see the hotels extensive history dating back from 1914 throughout the hotel's Western European inspired rooms, lobbies and restaurants. (47.656876,-117.424257) edit
  • Hotel Lusso, 808 W. Sprague Ave, +1 509 747-9750, [31]. A boutique hotel located downtown, Hotel Lusso is a great choice for every type of traveler because of its location and class of service. The hotel has a very charming European ambiance to it. With 48 rooms, the hotel has an intimate feel, but doesn't lack in luxury. There is also a new popular bar located adjacent to the lobby called The Post St. Ale House serving 20 beers on tap and traditional pub food. Hotel Lusso was also recently named to the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine Gold List. (47.658552,-117.423935) edit
  • Microtel Spokane/Airway Heights, 1215 South Garfield Road, +1 509 242-1200, [32]. Microtel is pleased to be the first economy/budget hotel brand to offer guests free local and free long distance calls in the continental United States, and free wireless high-speed Internet access in every room of our hotels, as well as advance online check-in and check-out with unlimited access to online folio information. These new amenities compliment our other standard amenities including remote TV with ESPN, CNN and one movie channel and complimentary continental breakfast.
  • Motel 6 Spokane East, 1919 N Hutchinson Road, +1 509 926-5399, Fax: +1 509 928-5974, [33].
  • Motel 6 Spokane West-Airport, 1508 S Rustle Street, +1 509 459-6120, Fax: +1 509 747-1857, [34].
  • Best Western Peppertree Airport Inn, 3711 S Geiger Boulevard, +1 509 624-4655, Toll-free: +1 800 799-3933, Fax: +1 509 838-6416, [35].Spokane Hotel - The Best Western Peppertree Airport Inn is a three-star hotel in the Spokane, Washington area that offers spacious, comfortable rooms near some of Washington’s most popular golf courses, universities and visitor attractions.
  • Best Western Pheasant Hill, 12415 E Mission Avenue, +1 509 926-7432, Fax: +1 509 892-1914, [36].
  • Comfort Inn University District/Downtown, 923 3rd Ave E., +1 509 535-9000, Fax: +1 509 535-5740, [37].
  • Courtyard Spokane, 401 North Riverpoint Boulevard, +1 509 456-7600, Fax: +1 509 456-0969, [38].
  • Fairfield Inn Spokane Downtown, 311 N Riverpoint Boulevard, +1 509 747-9131, Fax: +1 509 747-0501, [39].
  • Holiday Inn, 1616 S. Windsor Drive, +1 509 838-1170, [40].
  • Holiday Inn Express, 9220 E. Mission, +1 509 927-7100, [41].
  • Holiday Inn Express, N. 801 Division Street, +1 509 328-8505, [42].
  • Residence Inn Spokane East Valley, 15915 E. Indiana Avenue, +1 509 892-9300, Toll-free: +1 509 892-9300, Fax: +1 509 892-9400, [43].
  • Stratford Suites, 11808 W. Center Ln, Airway Heights, WA, +1 509 321-1600, Toll-free: +1 888 705-8877, Fax: +1 509 321-1599, [44]. Just 10 minutes from Downtown. Extended stay hotel.
  • The Ridpath Hotel, 515 W. Sprague Avenue, [45]. Located in downtown The 12 story Ridpath is much like any major midrange hotel.
  • The Davenport Hotel, 10 South Post St., [46]. Spokane's only four diamond hotel. Rated in the top ten best hotels in America by Expedia. Located in the heart of Downtown and the Davenport District (Art District).
  • Hotel Lusso, 1 North Post St., +1 509 747-9750, [47]. Small Mediterranean style hotel located in the heart of downtown.
  • Montvale Hotel, 1005 West First Ave, +1 509 747-1919, [48]. Small European style boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown by the Fox Theater.


Spokane is one of a few cities nationwide that has Wi-Fi access just about everywhere Downtown. The entire Downtown area is a Wi-Fi hotspot or an area where wireless Internet is provided free of charge (2 hours per day) if your computer is equipped for Wi-Fi.

Stay safe

All-in-all people in Spokane are very kind and hospitable. It is a very safe city at most times of the day and there are no really bad neighborhoods to be advised of. That being said, Hillyard, the East Sprague red light district, and the west side area north of downtown are not great places to be alone at night. Also, use caution when walking through Riverfront Park or on the Centennial Trail at night.

  • Being in the foothills of the Rockies, Spokane has excellent skiing in the wintertime. An hour's drive north of city takes you to its most cherished ski resort; Mt. Spokane Ski Resort. [49]. 15 miles from the intersection of US Highway 2 and Highway 206 to the northwest of Spokane
  • Also, 40 minutes east of downtown is the lakefront tourist town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It's also known for its quaint downtown.
  • Fairchild AFB[50], just west of Spokane International Airport on US Highway 2
  • Mt. Spokane State Park [51], a camping park in the Selkirk Mountains. At the top of the 5,883' summit there are great views, as far as Canada. Camping in the summer, cross-country skiing in the winter. 25 miles northeast of Spokane.
Routes through Spokane
SeattleRitzville  W noframe E  Spokane ValleyCoeur d'Alene, Idaho
WenatcheeCoulee City  W noframe E  Sandpoint, Idaho → Kalispell, Montana
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SPOKANE, a city and the county-seat of Spokane county, Washington, U.S.A., on both banks of the Spokane river, near the eastern boundary of the state, and about 242 m. E. of Seattle. Pop. (1890), 19,922; (1900), 36,848, of whom 7833 were foreignborn, including 1683 English Canadians, 1326 Germans, and 1168 Swedes; (1910 census) 104,402. Spokane is served by the Great Northern, the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co. (Union Pacific system), the Northern Pacific, the Idaho & Washington Northern, the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, and the Spokane & International railways, and by the Spokane & Inland Empire (electric) line connecting with the Coeur d'Alene mining region, Idaho, and with Colfax, Washington and Moscow, Idaho. Among the principal buildings of the city are the Federal building, the county court-house, the cityhall, the post office, the Paulsen building, the Columbia and Auditorium theatres, the Spokane club, the masonic temple, the Spokesman-Review building, and a large Roman Catholic church. Spokane is the see of a Protestant Episcopal bishop. The city has a Carnegie library, and ten public parks aggregating 320 acres; the more important are Liberty Park (25 acres), Manito Park (85 acres), and Corbin Park (13 acres). Fort George Wright (established in 1895) is 3 m. west of Spokane on a tract of 1022 acres given to the United States Government by the city, for that purpose, in 1894-1895. Spokane is the seat of Gonzaga College (Roman Catholic) for boys, founded in 1887 and incorporated in 1904; of Spokane College (1907; Lutheran); of Brunot Hall (Protestant Episcopal), for girls; the Academy of the Holy Names (Roman Catholic), for girls; and of other schools and academies. Among the city's charitable institutions are a home for the friendless (1890), the St Joseph orphanage (1890), St Luke's (1900) and the Marie Beard Deaconess (1896) hospitals, each having a training school for nurses, a Florence Crittenden home, and a House of the Good Shepherd. The Spokane river is a rapidly flowing stream with two falls (the upper of 60 and the lower of 70 ft.), within the city limits, providing an estimated energy of about 35,000 horse-power at low water. Of this energy, in 1908, about 17,000 horse-power was being utilized, chiefly for generating electricity (the motive power most used in the city's industries), as well as for lighting and transit purposes, while about 9000 horse-power in electrical power was transmitted to the Coeur d'Alene mines. At Post Falls, Idaho, 22 m. east of Spokane, about 12,000 horse-power is developed, and at Nine Mile Bridge near Spokane, about 20,000 horse-power. Spokane's manufacturing interests have developed with remarkable rapidity. In 1900 there were 84 factories capitalized at $2,211,304, and their product was valued at $3,756,119. In 1905 there were 188 factories capitalized at $5,4 0 7,3 1 3 (144.5% increase), and the value of their products was $8,830,852 (135.1 increase). The city's principal manufactures in 1905 were: lumber and planing mill products ($2,040,059); flour and gristmill products ($1,089,396); malt liquors ($679,274); foundry and machine shop products ($479954); and lumber and timber products ($418,019). Spokane is an important jobbing centre, is a natural supply point for the gold, silver and lead mining regions of northern and central Idaho, eastern Washington, and Oregon, and is a distributing point for the rich agricultural districts in this region.

The first permanent settlement on the site of Spokane was made in 1874 by James N. Glover, who bought from two trappers a tract of land here. The settlement was named Spokane Falls, in memory of the Spokan Indians, a tribe of Salishan stock, which formerly occupied the Spokane Valley; the word Spokan is said to mean "children of the sun." Spokane was incorporated as a town in 1881 and in the same year received its first city charter (amended in 1891). The city became the county-seat in 1882. The present name was adopted in 1890. The city was reached by the Northern Pacific railway in 1883, by the Union Pacific in 1889, and by the Great Northern in 1892. On the 4-6th of August 1889, thirty squares of the city (nearly all of its business section) were destroyed by fire, with a loss estimated at $5,000,000. Rebuilding was at once begun, and in about two years the city had been almost entirely reconstructed and greatly improved. In 1910 Spokane adopted a commission form of government.

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