The Spokane Fire of 1889

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Electricity returning to main street

The summer of 1889 was particularly dry in the Pacific Northwest. Forest fires throughout the region were joined by a massive urban fire in Seattle on June 3rd. On August 4th, a fire ignited in a lodging house near the Northern Pacific Depot on Railroad Avenue in the city of Spokane Falls. Racing through the makeshift wooden buildings near the railroad tracks, the flames rapidly spread to the brick downtown. The fire department could not contain the blaze due to equipment failure. In the end, 32 blocks of the city center were razed.

Insurance adjusters find temporary space

These black and white images are a sample of the Northwest Room's collections showing the aftermath of this fire. Some of the photographs are views of the burnt-out streets and blocks indicating the physical effects of the fire and early reconstruction efforts. The others document the improvised quarters of businesses in the city in the period immediately after the fire.

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Photographs for this digital collection are drawn from the photo files of the Northwest Room.