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Landmark institutions show Spokane’s growth potential

Sun., Jan. 23, 2011

Spokane was a far different place four decades ago.

Major community projects – like the upcoming Expo ’74 World’s Fair – were typically planned by older men meeting in such exclusive enclaves as the Spokane Club.

The Lilac Parade was the city’s signature event. No one pictured those same downtown streets being filled with runners or basketball players.

About the only visitors the growers on Green Bluff saw were home canners stocking up for the winter. And a “mac” was just a hamburger, not the nickname for a supersized museum.

With a new decade upon us, we’re taking a look at how Spokane has changed over the years, through the mirror of some of its major cultural institutions.

Today, we examine the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s struggle for survival as government funding dries up, and how the Lilac Parade has come to share the spotlight with Bloomsday and Hoopfest.

On Monday, we’ll see how the Spokane Club has broadened its base and how Green Bluff farmers have thrived by cultivating not just crops but family-style entertainment.

And Tuesday, we’ll explore what might shape the institutions of the future – such as Sustainable September, which echoes Expo’s environmental themes but is driven by young, female energy.

Whether you’re new to town or have lived here for 40 years, we hope you’ll learn something.

– Rick Bonino, features editor

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