Expo Revival: Searching for Trent Alley Art & Historical Exhibits

Visit the third floor of Central Library this month to view two incredible exhibits celebrating and honoring the history and legacy of Asian and Asian Americans in the Pacific Northwest and Spokane.

Did you know?

For much of the 20th century, the stretch of blocks between Bernard and Howard along Trent was home to several Asian-run businesses. In particular, Trent Alley, which ran from Bernard to Stevens, became synonymous with Spokane’s Chinese and Japanese communities. Shops, hotels, and offices had primary storefronts along the alley.

To date, very little evidence exists about Trent Alley.

As we reflect on the wonderful contributions Expo ’74 brought to the Spokane region, we must also shed light on the communities that were impacted as a result. In collaboration with Asians for Collective Liberation and Eastern Washington University, we proudly showcase Expo Revival: Searching for Trent Alley which includes two impactful exhibits.

The main exhibit Searching for Trent Alley: Asian American Footprints in Downtown Spokane helps us trace the areas of downtown that served as home to vibrant Asian communities beginning in the late-1800s despite discriminatory policies and attitudes at national, regional, and local levels. Racist immigration and land laws limited the development of Asian neighborhoods in Spokane.

As Expo ‘74 neared, the Asian population downtown had already begun to disperse, moving businesses to areas that allowed for greater opportunities. Expo ’74’s beautification efforts gutted the last surviving remnants of Spokane’s Asian community in Trent Alley. Expo Revival honors the space they inhabited and recognizes the decades of contributions from Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and other Asians who came here for work, were integral parts of the community, but whose histories were erased. Their stories remind us of how people and communities from all backgrounds are woven into a city’s foundations and as we move forward, we can reconsider how we acknowledge their impacts.

We Are Made Of Stories is a companion exhibit and is a collection of contemporary artworks submitted by local youths and residents who are telling their own, their families’, or their communities’ stories. We reflect on how we view the stories of the past as they invite us into the stories of today.