05 Oct Spokane, Washington Real Estate and City Information
Spokane: Lilac City of the Northwest
Begin in Seattle. Travel east on Interstate 90. Cross Washington’s central Cascade Mountain Range via Snoqualmie Pass, then the world-famous wine region of Columbia Valley — and within it the separate American Viticultural Region of Yakima Valley — then the arid Columbia Basin, and you’ll finally arrive at the Lilac City, Spokane.
It lay at Washington’s eastern border, 20 miles from Idaho. And only 92 miles south of the Canadian border. Many small communities lie between Spokane and Idaho, several of which offer secluded homes in the mountains with easy access to the city. And just across the Idaho border is Coeur d’Alene, a beautiful lakeside resort town.
Spokane was founded as “Spokane Falls” by European traders and settlers in 1881. Before becoming a city, it had been the state’s first European trading post.
Now, it’s known best for being home to such institutions as Gonzaga University, the enchanting Spokane Falls (and their accompanying dams downtown), and nearby Fairchild Air Force Base. Gonzaga University is a four-year Roman Catholic school on the Spokane River, founded in 1887 (and counts Bing Crosby among its alumni!). Fairchild AFB is a few miles southwest of Spokane. What began as the Spokane Air Depot in 1942 is now home to the 92d Air Refueling Wing.
Although Spokane’s struggled in recent decades with a transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy, and higher-than-average crime rates (state-wide and nationally), it’s a city with plenty of natural beauty and cultural vibrancy.
Where might you go? Here are a few ideas…
- Riverfront Park, downtown, was the site of the environmentally-themed Spokane World’s Fair in 1974. Now, it’s a vibrant local attraction with amusement rides, the Ice Palace outdoor ice skating rink, the Looff (keep reading), and more.
- The 1909 Looff Carrousel is a hand-carved carousel in Riverfront Park that was created in 1909 by Charles I. D. Looff. It has 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 Chinese dragon chairs. In the early 1990s, artist Jennifer Carrasco repainted dozens of the horses.
- SkyRide cable ride will carry you over the Spokane River downtown (it received high marks from Conde Nast).
- Monroe Street Bridge, designed by Kirtland Kelsey Cutter, connects the downtown and West Central neighborhoods. It’s also featured in the city seal.
- Spokane Falls, upper and lower, is a centerpiece of the Riverfront Park area downtown. It’s the United States’ second-largest urban waterfall and a real sight to behold. The Falls were called Stluputqu (“swift water”) by Native Americans. Speaking of Native Americans, the Spokane Tribe, which now lives on 159,000 acres in Wellpinit, Washington, is part of the Interior Salish Group of Native Americans, and has lived in the northwest for centuries (Washington, Idaho, Montana).
- Manito Park and Botanical Gardens is 90 acres of public park. Manito is Algonquin for “Spirit of Nature” (or so the story goes). Its Rose Hill contains over 150 varieties of roses. And Duncan Gardens is a nine-acre, European-style formal garden.
- Riverside State Park is Washington State’s biggest state park and only a few miles northwest of the city. Park policy allows for camping, all-terrain vehicles, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more.
Median Spokane home prices (for all homes) have risen from 2000 to 2015 from the high $80,000s to around $175,000. $214,000 was Trulia’s average listing price for sale homes as of July 29, 2015. Moran Prairie (southeast of downtown), Northwest, and Lincoln Heights (also southeast of downtown) are among the most popular neighborhoods lately. While we’re on the subject of buildings, Spokane has at least its share of architectural history…
- The Davenport Hotel, built in 1912, sits near Spokane Falls. Spokane grew with the railroads, and mining industry. The Davenport helped establish the city as more than just a dusty outpost serving the mining boom. It’s at 10 South Post Street.
- The First Congregational Church of Spokane is a granite, Norman structure built in 1890. It’s at 411 South Washington Street.
- The Finch Mansion, in the Georgian-revival style, was built in 1897 at 2340 West 1st Avenue. It’s in the Browne’s Addition neighborhood (Spokane’s original high society neighborhood).
- Painted Rocks, along the Little Spokane River, is the oldest historic site in this list. These pictographs date back to 1750 — a colorful reminder that the Spokane area was a community well before the City existed.
- Spokane’s Masonic Temple is a grand building in the Neo-Classical Revival style. Built in 1905, it’s at 1108 West Riverside Avenue — and part of the Riverside Avenue National Historic District.
- Spokane House was built in 1810 as a trading post by the North West Company’s David Thompson. The post is no longer extant (and the exact location is unknown), and it was abandoned after a little more than a decade’s use. Nonetheless, it’s an historic milestone in Spokane’s history — but one you unfortunately can’t visit yet.
Coming back to the present day… If you drive east from downtown, through Spokane Valley, along either Sprague Avenue, Trent Avenue (State Route 290), or Interstate 90, you can explore numerous smaller communities. Many people who work or study in Spokane live in the suburbs or even more isolated (and wooded) neighborhoods. Veradale, Millwood, and Liberty Lake are a few of those communities. The farther north and east you go, the closer you’ll get to wooded areas like Mount Spokane State Park. For example, Newman Lake is a small community northeast of Spokane, near the Idaho border, that’s in a beautiful wooded region with few houses. If you’re looking for a quiet place to live that’s within a thirty minute drive of Spokane, this is a good option. Home prices range from about $100,000 to $500,000 (and some people buy land and then build).
And here are a few more interesting facts to take with you on the drive:
- Spokane’s considered the birthplace of Father’s Day.
- The City of Spokane hired the famed Olmsted firm to design its parks. Today, residents enjoy more than 87 parks, many of which owe their existence to the Olmsted plan and the visionary city planners. High Bridge Park and Finch Arboretum are two such public spaces.
- Famous people from the City of Spokane include actress Julia Sweeney, author Sherman Alexie, musician Bing Crosby, director David Lynch, actress Hilary Swank, artist Clyfford Still, journalist Timothy Egan, and music producer Ryan Lewis.