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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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Further reading

External links

Simple English

Spokane, Washington
Nickname(s): The Lilac City
Location of Spokane in
Spokane County and Washington
Coordinates: 47°40′24″N 117°24′37″W / 47.67333°N 117.41028°W / 47.67333; -117.41028
United States
 - Mayor Mary Verner
Population (2000)
 - City 199,630
 Metro 435,644
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

Spokane (Pronounced: spo can) is a city in the U.S. state of Washington. Spokane is in the eastern half of the state, close to the border with the state of Idaho.

Spokane is the second largest city in all of Washington state, only Seattle is larger. Spokane is the main city for a large area including all of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Spokane is the business, and industrial city in the area.

The population of the city is 199,630 and the population of the metro area of Spokane is 435,644.

= History

= Spokane was founded in 1871 when a sawmill was built on the spokane river waterfall. In 1889 a fire burned down all of the downtown. 2 years after the fire, in 1892 the Railroad came to Spokane, this made it easier for people to get to and from the city. In 1974 Spokane hosted the World's Fair. This brought lots of people and money to Spokane.

Spokane River

The Spokane River flows through the downtown of the city where it creates a large waterfall called the Spokane Falls. This waterfall is important to the city because it was where the first building in Spokane was built, and it is very pretty.

The river is also important because many dams have been built on it so the city can have Electricity. It also provides a place for swimming and boating.

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