Thousands of photographs are shot every day in Spokane with digital cameras, cellphones and webcams, but when Charles Libby opened his photo studio with his sister Addie in 1898, photographs were still a novelty. Charles Libby’s photos, taken over a 60-year career, are a fascinating chronicle of Spokane’s early boom era. He climbed the Spokane County Courthouse tower to make the photo above showing the steel Monroe Street Bridge, which was replaced with concrete in 1909. Born in Olympia in 1879, Libby moved to Spokane and worked menial jobs until he could afford a camera. He made portraits, shot real estate, photographed high society events and offered aerial photography. Charles Libby died in 1966, and most of his negatives reside with the Eastern Washington Historical Society at the Museum of Arts and Culture.
– Jesse Tinsley
1903: This photo by Charles Libby looks southeast from the Spokane County Courthouse tower at the Monroe Street Bridge.
Present day: The same angle shows the reconstructed bridge and the city beyond.