Then & Now galleries

Slideshows that compare historical photos with modern images.


Riverside Avenue dentists

Dentists in early Spokane could ease the patient’s pain and anxiety with laughing gas, ether or various formulas of cocaine and morphine, but chances are you avoided the dentist until the pain became unbearable. “Extractions! 50 cents!” read the signs outside the New York Dental Parlors office. “Painless!” was touted in every ad. Novocain wasn’t sold until 1906.

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Dodd block

The former Dodd Block was named for Charles H. Dodd, who was born in New York City in 1838. At age nine, he went to live with a well-to-do family in Stamford, Connecticut and he received an excellent education until the age of 16, when he entered Yale College. After two years there, he was recruited to build the new railroad through Panama in 1855. Later he worked for a shipping company and traveled extensively around South America. During the Civil War, he served in the Esmeralda Rifles, a California-based infantry unit that suppressed Indian uprisings in the Southwest states.

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Winter driving on Grand Boulevard

Since developers built the first homes on Spokane’s South Hill, getting people home in the winter was a problem. Early streetcars climbed with the aid of a cable that ran under the roadway. Drivers used to chain up before trying to climb Bernard St., Freya or Grand Blvd.

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Former Keneseth Israel Synagogue

There have been Jewish people in Spokane at least since businessman Simon Berg set up a dry goods store in 1879. Recounted in a 2008 article by writer Jim Kershner in the Spokesman-Review, a group of mostly German Jews formed a Reform congregation and met in private homes until they built Temple Emanu-El at Third and Madison in 1892.

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Post and Riverside Lubin’s

Barnett “Ben” Goldstein often said he and friend Harry Lubin and were born in “the old world” in Vilna, Poland. “We were playmates and fostered the same ideals. We looked together to America for our chance,” said Goldstein in 1938. The two set out for the “new world” and after stops in London, New York, Seattle and Tacoma, the two decided to pool their money and become farmers and homestead in Idaho. But they only got as far as Spokane and soon opened a retail business called New York Outfitters in 1909.

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Macy’s Madonna window

Christmas decorations put up by retailers or retail groups have been a historical part of the downtown holiday scene. In 1956, the C.C. Anderson department store chain, based in Boise, completed a new 10-story building at Main Ave. and Wall St. in Spokane for their new store, called the Bon Marche after their Seattle store. And the store immediately commissioned a landmark holiday decoration which became the Madonna and Christ child simulated stained glass window for front of the store, which is now Macy’s.

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West Main Avenue

In the 1962 photo above, a sign on the left reads “E-Z Loans.” That’s Millman Jewelers and E-Z Loan, a shop started by Henry and Sadie Millman in 1929, next door to the current location of 407 W. Main. Henry was born in Romania in 1900 and came to America at age 5. He became a skilled watchmaker and jeweler and operated his store for almost 45 years. At one time, it sat next to Dutch’s Music, in the old Ulrich’s Café, and Huppins , both of which operated as pawn shops at one time.

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Sprague and Sullivan

Sullivan Rd. in Spokane Valley is named after an early settler, John P. “Jack” Sullivan, who was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1846 and who came in the United States in 1860. He worked many jobs around the Western states before he arrived in the Spokane area in 1884 and set about fencing off his homestead. His land stretched from what is now Sprague Ave. north, almost to the Spokane River, including what the local stagecoach drivers called the Mullan Rd., near the current route of I-90.

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Cathedral of St John the Evangelist

The Right Reverend Edward Makin Cross came from Minnesota to be the third bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Spokane diocese in 1924. He proposed a cathedral that would symbolize the church to the whole region. St. James Church, St. Peter’s Church and All Saints Cathedral would sell their respective properties and combine to fill the new church. The diocese commissioned architect Harold C. Whitehouse, a church member, to design a gothic cathedral in the English tradition.

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Aerial view of the Spokane River

One of the biggest changes to the downtown waterfront was the removal of the rails.
In the 1960s, city boosters began to dream of a world’s fair around the falls in Spokane. And one of the biggest roadblocks was the tangle of steel rails that snaked across Havermale Island and along the shore of the river. The railroads had carried passengers and freight through town for almost a century, but now organizer King Cole and Spokane Unlimited Inc. saw the dingy rail yards and aged depots as a visual blight on the scenic waterway.

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Aerial view of the Spokane County Courthouse

Spokane sprang from the ashes of the great fire of 1889 and many distinctive structures, including the Review Tower, were built in early 1890s. But building came to a screeching halt in the panic of 1893. Shaky financing of railroads, a run on gold supplies and hundreds of bank failures resulted in the worst recession the United States had ever seen. But the city of Spokane was building a grand city hall near the falls and there was still optimism that the recession would be temporary. With the former courthouse roof leaking, the county board held a contest to design the new county courthouse that would sit on land north of the river donated by early settler David P. Jenkins. The building should cost no more than $250,000 and the winning designer would win a prize totaling five percent of that cost.

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Shacktown

For several decades, there was a collection of shacks along the Spokane River downstream from the Monroe St. Bridge and under the trains that rattled along the rim of the gorge. The squatters, all men, came and went, each selling his shack for a few dollars when he moved on.

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Ridpath Hotel

William M. Ridpath, born 1845 in Putnam County, Indiana, volunteered for service during the Civil War, serving two hitches before mustering out and attending college. Col. Ridpath taught school and studied law until passing the bar in 1872. He served in the Indiana legislature and was later appointed by President Chester A. Arthur as an Indian agent to various tribes in the west before moving to Spokane in 1888. Here he practiced law and was appointed to be a prosecutor in the pre-and post-statehood era. He invested in mining and real estate. Investment in the Le Roi mine in Rossland, British Columbia paid off handsomely and he used his profits to open the five-story Ridpath Hotel on W. Sprague in 1900.

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Kroll Building

William H. Kroll was already a successful lumberman in Michigan and well into his 60s when he came west in 1911 and stopped in St. Maries, Idaho. In 1921, he bought the Merriam Block on First Ave. in Spokane, between Wall and Howard and changed the name to the Kroll Building.

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Jenkins Building

Col. David P. Jenkins was one of Spokane’s greatest benefactors. Before homesteading Spokane’s north side of the river, Jenkins, born 1823, was a lawyer from Ohio, an acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln and a Civil War hero. After the war, he practiced law in Seattle for several years. When he heard about the impending connection of the Northern Pacific railroad to Spokane, he moved here around 1880, homesteading 157 acres on the north side of the Spokane River bounded by Howard St., Cedar St. and Mallon Ave.

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500 Block of Riverside Avenue

Russell Walker was a salesman who spent much of his career in women’s wear. He was born in Seattle in 1902 and came to Spokane in 1916. As a teen, he began working in the back at Bartlett’s, a women’s wear store, but was soon promoted to sales when management saw how he persuaded his female classmates to shop there. He opened his first store in 1920, selling WWI surplus gear, then switched to ladies’ shoes in 1930. He called it Savon’s, adding women’s sportswear a few years later.

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Blodgett’s Mercantile

Charles A. Blodgett, born 1893 in Victor, Montana, came to Spokane at 18 and set to work. He learned the retail business working at a North Monroe grocery store. He opened his own store, Blodgett Mercantile, on the corner of Nevada and Wellesley in 1909.

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North Division north of Francis

In 1932, the city finished paving Division St. north to the Francis, which was the city limits at the time, and Spokane County surveyed and paved north from there. But when the county’s crew attempted to link up their section, they found the two 20-foot-wide concrete strips of pavement were a good 12 inches below the grade of Francis.

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