Founded in 1873 by James Nettle Glover, Spokane was first a
small settlement known as Spokan Falls (it wouldn’t be until
1883 that the ‘e’ was added on to Spokan, making the city known
as Spokane Falls; in 1891, ‘Falls’ was dropped). The natural
resources of Eastern Washington— fertile soil, timber and mineral
wealth—eventually attracted more settlers to the area. The present
boundaries of Spokane County were created by the legislature in
1879. Incorporated in 1881, Spokan Falls became the county seat in
1887 after a hotly contested battle with Cheney.
The year 1889 was an eventful one in the Pacific Northwest when
Spokane Falls, Seattle and Ellensburg were destroyed by disastrous
fires. Spokane’s response to the fire, which destroyed 32 blocks of
the central portion of the city, was to rebuild immediately, and
in a far grander fashion of substantial and elegant brick, stone
and terra cotta.
The Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1881 and was linked
transcontinentally in 1883. Railroad Avenue, where the tracks of
the Northern Pacific were located, was elevated above street level
in 1914-15 in an effort to eliminate traffic problems downtown.
Railroads influenced both the development and appearance of
Spokane. Railroads made Spokane the hub of the Inland Northwest,
transporting new citizens into town and carrying out the wealth
of the region.
Rebounding from a national depression in 1893, Spokane
experienced another building boom at the turn of the century.
Construction again expanded the downtown area, and the city
nearly doubled to 37 square miles in 1907 when the city limits
Forward-thinking town leaders formed the city parks board in 1907
and brought the Olmsted Brothers from Brookline, Massachusetts to
advise and plan in order to ensure that Spokane would continue as
the “City Beautiful.”
Spokane has retained much of its history through its buildings.
Following is a sample of sights and attractions which capture the
history, charm and diversity of downtown S