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spokane downtown

The Natural Wonders of Washington

Spokane, the second largest city in the state of Washington, is next to the Spokane River, and our most northwestern state about 110 miles south of the Canadian border. Settled in the early 1800s, Spokane was first a trading post, becoming a fur trading center between the Rockies and the Cascades. When gold and silver were discovered in the late 1800s, this area became one of the largest producing mining locales in North America. Usually natural based resources have been the main economic source in the area, however, high-tech and biotech have emerged over the last few decades.

Originally called Spokan Falls, from the Indian tribe known as the Spokane (meaning Children of the Sun), in 1883 the "e" was added and 1883, the falls dropped. After lilacs were brought to the area in the early 1900s, and flourished, its nickname became the Lilac City. When the Northern Pacific Railroad was finished in 1881, the population increased.

Since it was located between the Rockies and Cascades, and near the mining and farming areas in the state, Spokane became the epicenter of numerous railroads. However, in the early 1900s, growth slowed since the mining interests were owned by national companies rather than locals; which caused the diversion of moneys from the area. Then with the arrival of the second World War, aluminum became very important for the production of airplanes.  It was the first city after the war to host the Russians and was the smallest city to host such an event. Havermale Island, which sits downtown, was owned by the railroads, was finally negotiated from the railroads and the downtown area began to change from its old railway image to a more modern version of what it is today. After the city hosted the first environmentally based World's Fair in 1974, it became noticed.  After the expo of 74, the 100 or so acre site became Riverfront Park. After the recession of the 1980s, the economy began to diversify since silver, farm and timber values decreased. Because of the many raw materials and inexpensive hydroelectric power, companies were coming to the area to build. Among the factories in production were metal refining, fabricating, finished wood items and food processing. The land outside of Spokane is rich and fertile creating a vast agro system that grows much of this country's cherries, pears, apples, peas, wheat, hops, asparagus and lentils. With these great fruits and vegetables available, it is easy to see that the next natural step would be the buildup of breweries and wineries. 

Today, Spokane is a veritable giant in the diversification of industry and technology. Six industries are focused on: digital media, aerospace, information technology, health sciences, clean technology and manufacturing. The downtown area contains a wireless network covering over 100 blocks and considered to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest area of this kind in the country. With Fairchild Air Force Base located nearby, many good sized companies, the railways, and its location, Spokane is considered to be the metro center of the Northwest in an area covering approximately 80,000 square miles. It has also become a central hub to the tourism trade for the region. As you can see from the photo below, river activities are an inviting, thrilling, and exciting venture for people everywhere.

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spokane tours

Tours in Washington

The above image is a fantastic sculpture by David Govedare located at the Riverfront Park. Made of metal, it is called "The Joy of Running Together" in honor of the yearly Bloomsday run every May, and consisting of 39 full-sized running figures and 2 people in wheelchairs.  With an overabundance of natural places around the city, everyone will find their individual interests and tastes easily satisfied; with a variety of lakes for all kinds of water activities and fishing, and over 75 parks with a total of 3500 acres; most prominent among these being the John A. Finch Arboretum, Riverfront, Riverside State, Botanical Gardens and Manito Park. Thanks to the foresightedness of their early leaders, the city began obtaining land for parks and gardens in the early 1900s and helped Spokane be one of the pioneers in creating a city-wide park system.

Riverfront Park, a 100 acre site has fantastic views of the Spokane Falls, a refurbished gondola to carry people across the falls from high above the gorge, a small amusement park that becomes an ice rink in the winter and a 5-story IMAX theater; plus small rides and concession stands. Many wonderful events are held in this park each year including: Pig out in the Park, Pow Wow, New Year's Eve, Hoopfest, Spokane Music Festival, Bloomsday Post-Race Celebration, all kinds of concerts and community activities and the IMAX Film Festival. One unique and very special operating carousel is located there; it is a hand-carved Looff created in 1909 by Charles I.D. Looff as a wedding present for his daughter. If you can grab the brass ring on the way by, you get a free ride! 

Rich in natural sights and sounds, Spokane is also home to 498 restaurants, 27 specific things to do,
although the list of things to do is infinite depending upon your particular interests, and 67 hotels and
accommodations. The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is home to beautiful Gothic architecture,
magnificent stained glass windows and an organ containing over 4000 pipes. If you brought your children,
you will want to visit the Children's Museum, or today as it is called, Mobius Kids, containing various
collections and activities to keep your young ones enthralled and amazed. Another awesome park is Manito
that houses a plethora of spectacular gardens, including the Lilac, renaissance styled Duncan, and the
Nishnomiya Japanese Garden created by gifted designer Nagao Sakurai.  If you are a ski enthusiast, or
snowboarding, then you will have to visit Mt. Spokane; with its own ski and snowboard park, featuring a
number of intermediate and advance ski runs. Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture focuses on 3 major
exhibits; Native American with marvelous artifacts including beadwork and pottery, regional history, and
visual art, with collections of art, paintings and cultural items. It was formerly known as the Cheney
Cowles Museum.

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spokane things to do

Things to do in Washington

Spokane is a thriving, hustling, bustling city that has become the hub of a vast supply of unbelievable and wonderfully entertaining excursions. No wonder it has been called an outdoorsy city. Close to rivers and lakes for boating, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, fishing, rafting, and swimming; these summertime activities will keep even the most ardent enthusiast ecstatic. Mountains too, for hiking, biking, rugged, butt bouncing, head jerking, breathtaking mountain biking; and skiing in the winter. In fact, with just a short drive, you will have the opportunities to experience 5 grand national parks, including Glacier National, Yellowstone, Jasper and Mt. Rainier; 33 golf courses, 11 wineries, 76 lakes, 5 ski resorts, the Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia River. Nuff said?

The All-American City award is given by the National Civic League recognizing the dedicated work of residents working together to determine and implement community challenges with uncommon results. In 2004, Spokane was announced the winner of this prestigious award due to the support of such cosmopolitan affairs with its shops, museums, Broadway shows, and home spun yearly activities traditional to a small town. One of the most notable museums is the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture housing an enormous collection of classic Native American items; with visiting national and regional shows. Located just blocks from downtown, it sits amid Victorian era homes and mansions from its golden era. The city has many venues performing visual and art scenes, theaters; one being a large civic center, opera, jazz orchestra, musical outlets, and a symphony.
The city has a dynamic art community with what is called "Artwalk", where on the first Friday of October and February, huge throngs of people come to visit the art districts.  The city's 3 main ones are East Sprague, Garland Village and Davenport.  Another Artwalk is held on the first Friday of every month and is solely the works of the locals and performers showing their wares around downtown.  Many galleries are located in Spokane, as well as numerous theaters and clubs for performances that provide different tastes.  The Spokane Symphony offers classical, while the Jazz Orchestra, jazz music.  The city has a resident theatrical company, many amateur theaters, Fox Theater restored to its 1931 art deco condition, and the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center, renovated in 1988, was renamed in 2006, to honor one if its most notable residents; Bing Crosby.  For the active enthusiast, there are 37 miles of paved road trails along the banks of the Spokane River, a favorite for bicyclists, skaters, runners and walkers.  And as you can visualize from the thrilling photo above, this is one awe inspiring place for the white water rafting enthusiast.  Believe it or not, there're many locations like the one above to knock your socks off.

If you are interested in sports, there are all the usual venues; baseball, basketball, football, soccer, ice hockey and skating.  In fact, the city was host to the 2007 US Figure Skating Championships which was the biggest sports event ever held in the city.  It was named the sports event of the year by Sports Travel Magazine, outpacing even the Super Bowl XLI