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It wasn't the parking that was needed for Expo, but getting rid of the runned down buildings and the general appearance. That is why Trent Ave. was named Spokane Falls Blvd. from Monroe to Division. They wanted to get rid of the Skid Road appearance and days.

Too bad restoration wasn't common in the early 70's, but luckily the Floor Mill and Railroad tower was saved during the Expo years!

Andrew Waddilove

It's a shame that prime downtown real estate is being wasted away as surface parking lots.
I can visualize eye-catching mix-use urban projects both mid-rise and high-rise that would help tie in RiverFront Park, The INB Performing Arts Center, and Convention Center with Downtown.
I hope someday developers will see this opportunity and maybe turn these under-used areas into something more.


it's sad to see that they tore down all those great old brick buildings that could have been renovated. Although on the other hand parking isn't always a bad thing.

I love that downtown Spokane hasn't been totally rebuilt though. the old buildings are the best part about it.

Desmond Bliek

Nice post! That's a great illustration of how some larger forms of success really put the hurt on more traditional downtown fabrics. It'd be interesting to know how the parcel structure changed - are those blocks all held by one owner now, or are the small lots that made that tighter fabric still around?

I'd really like to visit Spokane sometime - I grew up in Calgary, so we were always hearing about carpet sales somewhere on Division or Sprague, or a shooting in Airway Heights, or people running Bloomsday... but I've never been. Seems like an interesting city, especially through these pages. I'm living in Fernie now, even closer. If you ski, you should come up and say hi sometime.




Two things on this post:

1) Yes, there were buildings there in the 50's but there was also no Riverfront Park, no Opera House, and a whole lot of nasty industrial railroad junk in the river (even more so than now).

2) There are plenty of developers who would love to develop these blocks (the PFD for one) but the people who own the land are either holding out for way too much money or have plans of their own they're not ready to implement.

I worked in the Auntie's building a few years back when the Fort Spokane Brewery was knocked down. We heard that the block was owned by a Houston company who has plans to build a high-rise housing unit there in the future. They didn't think there was enough demand yet so they wanted to make a few bucks off parking until then.

It's easy for people to look at surface parking and say "Hey, there should be a 50-story building there, that would look cool". Yes, high-rises look cool but the people with the money to do such things need to be sure that people will buy their new condos, or rent their office space and apartments. Things such as the downtown office vacancy rate dictate this.

It sucked when Prium decided to not build their new condo tower (this year anyway) but I'm sure it has to do with the slowing real estate market and the flood of downtown condos sitting unsold for months on end.

I lived downtown four years ago and so much has changed since then it's barely possible to believe. It has a long way to go before it's as dynamic as Portland or Seattle, but it's developing a character all it's own and that's a fun process to watch.

Robert Wilson

By chance I stumbled on to your excellent coverage of an area in downtown Spokane, which I knew well as a youngster of the depression, delivering Liberty, Physical Culture, Movie Mirror and other magazines.This was at the height of the depresson and we made one cent per copy of Liberty sold. My route started on 30th and ended on Trent Avenue. Today, I probably would not have let my children cover the same route, but it was a diffeent time. I covered a lot of downtown and it took two days. I want to speak briefly of the end of my route. At Bernard and Main was a barber shop which always bought, nearby a small bakery where when it had been a good day, I would buy a maple bar. This was particulary true during the winter. Then it was down the alley between Main and Trent,This was an interesting walk, with some ones who had too much to drink leaning againest the buildings, a few scattered lottery tickets and others just seeking some shelter. At the end of the alley, it was a right turn, into the second or third door and up some very narrow steps. Knocking on the door, a lady would come, in her kimono, and say "Hello little boy," and hand me my nickel and my day was done. As historically significant as these buildings might have been, I believe it best that these are gone. This was a brief nostalgic trip for me and has brought back a stream of memories about Spokane.


Interesting memories of downtown. I grew up in the 50's and 60's and remember downtown as a bustling place. Several theatres, the Crescent Department Store along with the Bon, Penney's and Wards. Only the Bon remains. There were quality men's and ladies clothing stores - Pierones,Bernards and many more. The Washington Market was similar to Pike Place-big doors that opened onto the street, fabulous produce and imported food.
What happened? We have the makings of a 21st century ghost town, only without the buildings, just add parking lots. You see, unless there is a market demand driven by a healthy economy, the land is only worthless as in hosting a parking lot. Our number one goal - listen Mayor Verner -should be economic development. Visit Microsoft who has likley utilized all of the available office space in puget sound. Visit other potential tenants and provide any incentive available to locate in our fair city. Work with the universites, business, AVISTA and get into the new economy of research nd development of alternative energy. It is a non polluting industry and all it takes is brainpower and creativity. Are we up to the challenge or do we witness more aspahalt and watch Boise and the Tri Cities become something greater than they are now?

Andrew Waddilove

Interesting post MK, and very true.
It is a shame that one of those projects couldn't become a reality, because we know the housing slump won't last forever.
Too bad Prium couldn't still build now and quite possibly by the time it was completed, the housing slump would be over and it would meet the returning demand for downtown housing.
I've lived in Spokane for many years and I've seen numerous downtown projects come and go, and then suddenly disappear.
Out of all of those projects set for downtown, sadly only one was actually constructed and became a reality: The Davenport Tower.
Thank God Spokane has Mr. Walt Worthy
Although High-rise projects won't be the answer to every problem, it seems to work in other cities, especially when it comes to densifying a central core.
It sure beats urban sprawl.

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