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100 years ago in Spokane: Heady celebration as armistice arrives, but flu fears churn underneath

‘Delirious’ celebration accompanied the news of armistice. (Spokesman-Review archives)
‘Delirious’ celebration accompanied the news of armistice. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A noisy, delirious celebration broke out in the early morning in Spokane when news of the armistice arrived. See our larger story for details on one of the biggest celebrations in Spokane history.

Meanwhile, the Spanish flu epidemic continued to disrupt life in Spokane (and all around the country and the world). Six more people died of the flu the day before.

A controversy erupted over whether flu patients at Washington State College in Pullman had been given adequate care. A professor wrote an article pointedly questioning their care, but college officials replied that the ill students “had been given the very best care possible under the exigencies of the situation.” The gymnasium had been turned into a hospital, and was now serving as a convalescent center.

The exigencies were considerable. The Spokane city health officer said that the college was dealing with the same problems everyone was dealing with, including the fact that “during this present epidemic both nurses and doctors have been perilously too few.”

A new statewide order mandating the wearing of flu masks in public continued to be controversial. Spokane’s business leaders, citing evidence that the epidemic might be waning, passed a resolution asking for an easing of the mask rules and an end to the ban on public gatherings by the end of the week.

City health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson told the business leaders that it might be possible to lift the ban at least partially in the next few days.


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Then and Now: Union Station

Historian Robert Hyslop, in his book “Spokane Building Blocks,” explains why Spokane’s Union Station, shown under construction in 1913, was called a station and not a depot. There had already been a Union Depot in Spokane serving the OR&N, the Union Pacific and the Great Northern in Spokane’s earliest days. In addition, people thought the word “depot” was old-fashioned and “station” was more stylish.