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Then and Now photos: The Crescent

The Crescent, Spokane’s homegrown department store, disappeared in 1988 when it was combined with the Frederick & Nelson brand. But it started off with a bang and is remembered fondly by longtime Spokanites. The store, originally called Spokane Dry Goods, was housed in the gently curving Crescent building where The Spokesman-Review building now sits. It opened Aug. 5, 1889, the day after the catastrophic downtown fire. The blaze was stopped from advancing westward past Lincoln Street, sparing the store. As the downtown’s only remaining dry goods store, the entire inventory was sold on opening day. Owners Robert B. Paterson and James Comstock made their reputation by not price-gouging during the post-fire sale. The Crescent moved but kept the name, undergoing its first major expansion on the 700 block of Riverside. The store sold automotive parts, clothing and farm tools, but became a true shopping landmark with the opening of their large building on Main in 1919. Running from the Riverside doors to the Main entrance was the Arcade, a long gallery lined with tasteful window displays and individual shops opening off both sides. At its peak, the Crescent had 5.2 acres of floor space designed as a gathering place and elegant shopping experience. Customers dressed up to visit the cafe, see fashion shows or pick out wedding gifts. Parents brought children to see the Christmas window displays. With expansions in 1949 and 1973, the Crescent eventually spanned the entire 700 block on Main. A store was added at NorthTown Mall in 1959 and University City in 1969. The Crescent company sold to Chicago retail giant Marshall Fields in 1962. Marshall Fields was bought in 1982 by an even larger retail group that spun off The Crescent and the Frederick & Nelson stores in 1988. All the stores took the F&N name before the entire chain closed for good in 1992. – Jesse Tinsley


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