Spokane’s Historical Postcards

Now that the digitization of photographs in the Inland Northwest Special Collection is finished, we started digitization of our postcard collection. The physical postcard collection contains thousands of images so it will take a while to complete but there are already over four hundred images of postcards from Spokane and small towns around Washington state to view. Some of the small towns are now ghost towns, so it is a lot of fun to see photos from when these towns were thriving.

Postcards first appeared in the United States in the 1870s and soon became a popular means of communication since they required only a penny’s worth of postage. Tourists began collecting postcards as ideal keepsakes of places that they visited. The era between 1904 and 1912 was known as the “Golden Age” of the postcard when their popularity exploded.

Aerial view of Spokane, Washington showing seven bridges and five waterfalls. Circa 1920/1920.

Horse Racing on Clark Ave., Republic, Wash. Circa 1900/1920.

In 1902, the Eastman Kodak Company took advantage of this craze by issuing postcard-sized photographic paper, onto which images could be printed directly from negatives. This allowed people to spend the one-cent postal rate while sending images of themselves and their homes to family, friends, and sweethearts. Local entrepreneurs also found that people would pay a little more for postcards of their small towns, images that would not be picked up by commercial publishers but could still be profitably produced in limited quantities on the new postcard stock. 

Greetings from Riverside, Wash. Circa 1904.

Birds eye view of Loomis, Washington. Circa 1903.

Have fun browsing through the postcard collection and new images will be added all the time.