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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

Thu., Aug. 4, 2011

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane woke up to an alarming sight: Smoke pouring from the streets.

An underground fire blazed all morning, halting downtown business for nearly three hours. Black smoke billowed from the manhole covers at Lincoln Street and Front Avenue (now Spokane Falls Boulevard).

The fire raged in an underground duct that carried electricity for streetcars, streetlights and other power uses. Apparently, the ground settled and broke one of the electrical cables, sparking the fire and cutting power to the business district.

From the noodle joint beat: The debate continued over whether Chinese and Japanese “noodle joints” and chili parlors were contributing to the delinquency of minors. A city commissioner had previously called them “hell holes” where teens went to drink.

Yet a city investigation proved that these charges were unfounded. Only two out of 11 restaurants were found to carry liquor at all.

The names of the investigated restaurants give us an idea of where Spokane went for fast, inexpensive food in 1911: Canton Noodle Café, Kwowy Hai Lo Co., Chili King Noodle Café (run by a Frenchman), Spokane Noodle Café (Japanese) and, most famous of all, Bob’s Chili Parlor.

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