Come Grow with Us
Long before humans explored and settled the Inland Northwest, a gigantic Ice Age flood carved wide valleys and basins into the landscape from the Bitterroot to the Cascade Mountains. Hundreds of years later, nomadic Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Colville, Kalispel, Palouse and Nez Perce Indians crisscrossed the region to hunt and fish.
By 1873, businesses had taken firm hold and civic leaders stepped forward to turn what was once a mere settlement into a thriving city. When silver was discovered in 1884 in nearby Idaho Territory, Spokane’s population exploded. The Great Spokane Fire of 1889 leveled 32 square blocks, and forward-looking city leaders jumped at the opportunity to create magnificent brick and stone buildings that still stand.
Frontier spirit, determination and foresight have guided business and civic leaders through boom and bust cycles, rapid technological changes and expanding opportunities.
As early as the 1940s, Spokane leaders were making bold moves. When the opportunity arose to secure a military installation, the chamber and businesses raised funds to purchase property for Fairchild Air Force Base. Today Fairchild is the county’s largest employer and home to the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings.
After World War II, the AgriBusiness Council supported efforts to develop the rich Columbia Basin and irrigation on the Rathdrum Prairie and worked to create mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and farmers.
By the 1950s Spokane’s downtown faced the same commercial exodus as many American cities. Determined to turn the tide, Spokane Unlimited – now the Downtown Spokane Partnership – was formed in 1959 to revitalize the downtown core. They cleaned up a dilapidated area along the Spokane River, creating a site worthy of winning the 1974 World’s Fair. Today that land is the city’s showcase 100-acre Riverfront Park.
In 1994 economic incubator Innovate Washington opened its doors on Riverpoint Campus, spurring the development of what’s now called the University District. The area is home to branch campuses of five area universities and colleges, and a hub for Spokane’s start-up companies.
While Preserving Our Past
A decade ago, downtown saw another rebirth when a thriving arts and shopping district sprung up on the heels of historic renovation projects and commercial development.
The art deco Fox Theater just missed demolition thanks to an aggressive fundraising campaign led by the Spokane Symphony. And the historic Steam Plant Square, with its landmark twin brick chimneys, nearly closed as well. Once the city’s source of steam, it was renovated and remodeled into offices, a brewery and restaurant.
About the same time, River Park Square, an upscale downtown shopping and entertainment center, opened its doors. The synergy of these projects was the catalyst downtown needed and soon art galleries, restaurants, shops and wineries took hold.
Built in 1914, the Davenport Hotel was a five-star facility before such rankings existed, hosting several U.S. Presidents and other dignitaries. But by 1985 it faced the wrecking ball. Spokane developers purchased the building and set about a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation, reopening the hotel in 2002.
Today there are four hotels in the Davenport collection. The Historic Davenport Hotel and the Davenport Tower are among the world’s greenest, most energy-efficient buildings. In 2011 both were awarded LEED® certification. The Davenport properties are the only hotels in the state of Washington to have the prestigious Gold status in this rating system.
Opened in the summer of 2015 the Davenport Grand Hotel is the newest facility and the crown jewel in Spokane’s Davenport collection. The impressively meticulous and modern 15-story hotel offers 716 guest rooms and suites, and is designed to be LEED® certified. A sky bridge connects the hotel to the Spokane Convention Center and INB Performing Arts Center. The Spokane Veteran’s Arena, Riverfront Park and Spokane River are all within walking distance.
I’ve been in Spokane:
Why I love Spokane:
I love the pace here, and the balance between big city frenetic energy and small town quality of life. The art scene is finally exploding, too, which makes me happier. I can raise a family here and still be stimulated by food, music, art and culture.