Cliff Drive was a popular spot for photographers to document the growth of early Spokane. Prominent in the center of the 1908 picture is the August Paulsen Building, the tallest in town when it was completed in 1911. Paulsen was a Danish immigrant who arrived in Spokane in 1892. He worked for dairies before scraping together $850 to buy a quarter stake in the Hercules Mine in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District. After some discouraging years of digging, rich lead and silver ore was found in 1901. The mine partners became wealthy and poured millions of dollars into Spokane. Paulsen built his eponymous building and was known for his philanthropic work. His wife, Myrtle White Paulsen, completed the 15-story Paulsen Medical and Dental Building because August died in 1927 from silicosis, a miner’s lung disease. The buildings’ deed allowed their daughter-in-law, Helen Paulsen, to live in the luxurious penthouse until her death in 2007, even though the buildings have changed hands over the years.
– Jesse Tinsley
1908: This view of downtown Spokane is looking north down Stevens from Cliff Drive. The August Paulsen Building stands tall in the center of the photo.
Present day: This view taken from along Cliff Drive shows the August Paulsen and Paulsen Medical and Dental buildings in the center.