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Mon., June 26, 2017, 12:07 a.m. | Search

Then and now: Spokane Amateur Athletic Club

1959: As workmen change traffic signs and lights to make Monroe Street one way going south, as it is today, Spokane was already planning for a new U.S. Courthouse. Just a few years later, the new construction would sweep away the buildings at right on the east side of Monroe between Riverside and Main avenues. The largest building of these was the three-story Spokane Amateur Athletic Club, built in 1904. (SPOKESMAN-REVIEW PHOTO ARCHIVE / SR)
Spokane was booming in the 1890s, the population was growing rapidly and clubs, lodges and fraternal organizations were bursting at the seams. The Spokane Amateur Athletic Club organized in 1891 with the boast that their facilities would offer not only the best billiards and bowling, but also gym facilities for fitness.

A brief history of Spokane’s downtown, through the decades:

1880s: In 1880, nobody called it “downtown.” It was just plain “town.” An 1884 “bird’s-eye-view” map shows that almost everyone in the fledgling city of Spokane Falls lived in what we would today call downtown. North of the river and south of Fourth Avenue was the province of ponderosa pines and wildflowers. Almost all of the businesses were clustered within two blocks of the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street.

City’s core a unique law enforcement challenge

Decades ago crime used to be such a problem in downtown Spokane that even new officers patrolling the beat have heard the horror stories. But a downtown precinct, special bar patrols and an increased emphasis on the downtown area have curbed some of the bad behavior.

Community-minded art scene alive and well in downtown Spokane

The "Steam Plant Comet Show" at the Lincoln Street underpass photographed on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
When walking on Howard Street between First and Second avenues, a pair of smiling narwhals are there to greet you. Walking on Wall Street, also between First and Second avenues, dozens of small murals mark “The People’s Gallery,” before red, blue, pink, black and white stripes make a colorful statement, via a mural by Spokane Arts Program Manager Ellen Picken and Erin Mielcarek.

Dining diversifies with food culture

The Gilded Unicorn is part of the Eat Good Group of restaurants started by Adam Hegsted, which also includes Wandering Table and Yards Bruncheon. Hegsted also has a catering company and cafe in Liberty Lake, and is preparing to open a new restaurant in Ponderay. Last year, he was in the running for a prestigious James Beard Award. Photographed Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. JESSE TINSLEY (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
It’s an elegant space, done in gray, black and white, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings and an open kitchen. There’s a new menu every month or so, and its focus is on creativity as well as whole, healthful foods. Experimentation is a value. So is working to elevate skills. Many ingredients are locally sourced, and dishes – made from scratch – carry a theme.

Downtown Spokane census shows many older, younger residents and few Gen Xers

John Waite, theowner of Auntie's Book Store, stands in the aisles of the store Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Waite had worked for the previous owners on and off for the past 30 years. Now Waite, the owner of Merlin's Comics and Games, has his hands full as the owner of the largest independent bookstore in Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Urban living often is portrayed as a young person’s game, but at 52, John Waite is a pretty typical downtown Spokane resident. Waite, the owner of Merlyn’s and Auntie’s Bookshop, lives on the same block as his comic and games shop. He’s got a few bars, a grocery store and a movie theater within a few hundred feet.

Downtown Spokane has long history of experimentation, controversy with parking

Time on a downtown Spokane parking meter has expired for a Chevy parked on Riverside Avenue, June 5. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The Washington Supreme Court had to decide whether downtown Spokane would install parking meters back in the 1940s. Today, rates are competitive with other similar-size cities, but officials are calling for more enforcement of existing time limit laws to keep spaces free for visitors and shoppers, rather than workers.

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