One of the first communities in Spokane to be developed with numerous suburban neighborhoods was a large tract of land east of the city called East Central Spokane. It was roughly bounded on the north by Trent Avenue, then later by Sprague Avenue, and extended south to Fourteenth Avenue. Spreading from east from Division Street, the East Central area stretched for more than five miles to the city limits at Havana Street.
East Central Spokane grew as an outgrowth of industrial development, which was built east of the city’s downtown core. Spokane’s industrial enterprises sporadically developed east of the downtown core along the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks and along Trent and Sprague Avenues. Mill sites, horse-and-buggy services followed by the automobile centers, and a variety of stores, shops, markets, banks, and bars were clustered along Sprague and Trent Avenues. During the period from about 1889 to the early 1950s, the land south of Sprague was developed for residential purposes. Hundreds of small, affordable homes were built on 50-foot-wide lots.
During the 1960’s the East Central Neighborhood was forever changed by the I-90 Interstate freeway, which divided the neighborhood down the middle. This freeway destroyed the urban fabric and community of the neighborhood as well as isolating the northern portion of residential dwelling units. Currently, the East Central Neighborhood is once again fighting against a freeway expansion and the North Corridor Freeway. The proposed plan calls for a 19 lane interchange in the heart of the neighborhood as well as the building of a new highway that will run from I-90 north to Highway 395. The neighborhood is actively protesting the size and placement of this freeway, which would once again divide the neighborhood.