Historic Views of Spokane

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Bicyclists at Riverside and Lincoln

In the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, Spokane was one of the largest cities of the American West. As a center for rail traffic, only the major ports of the Pacific Coast and the railway hubs of Denver and Salt Lake City equaled or exceeded it as population centers. Its rapid economic and population growth would stagnate in the interwar years. Despite this, demolition, construction and reconstruction continued to shape and reshape the cityscape in subtle ways prior to the 1974 World's Fair.

A north-facing panorama

These images sample architectural and city views of Spokane from the 1890s until the early 1970s.

Aerial view of Spokane circa 1945

Included are wide-angle panoramas of major city streets, high-angle views from office buildings, photographs shot from natural prominences and aerial photographs. In most photos are major scenic architectural features such as the Monroe Street Bridge, downtown skyscrapers, South Hill mansions and the Spokane County courthouse. A small but significant portion of those photographs show industrial scenes and landscapes.

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