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Then & Now galleries

Slideshows that compare historical photos with modern images.


View of Spokane from Paulsen Building

Prominent in the1929 photo, taken from the Paulsen Medical and Dental Building, are the elevated rail lines leading to Spokane’s Union Station, an elegant brick edifice finished in 1914. Behind that is the tower of the Great Northern Depot, which was also a grand marble-floored hall built by railroad baron James Jerome Hill in 1902.

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Operation Walkout

In 1954, the nuclear bomb was on everyone’s mind. Would the Russians attack without warning? Spokane was chosen as the first city in the nation to attempt a complete evacuation of its downtown area, about 70 square blocks.

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The Mint

During Spokane’s boom era of the 1880s through the early 20th century, downtown Spokane was packed with workers, mainly men, living in single resident occupancy buildings, called SRO hotels, when not at their jobs in construction, factories, retail, hospitality and service businesses. Cooped up in tiny bedrooms, they sought out entertainment after work, often a beer from a Spokane brewery and a locally-made hand-rolled cigar, like the ones produced by the Cuban Cigar Co. or Havana Cigar Manufacturing.

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Hazelwood Farms

Spokane’s Hazelwood Farms was a leading Northwest dairy business when its founders, David and George Brown and John L. Smith, decided to subdivide and sell off their land holdings on Spokane’s West Plains in 1906.

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Sunset Hill

In 1905, Washington formed a state highway department. As the automobile became more popular, the good roads movement gained steam. In 1907, the University of Washington established a highway engineering program, the first in the nation. The main route from Seattle to Spokane, which ran through Wenatchee, was called the Sunset Highway and, later, U.S. 10. That road, dubbed State Highway 2 in 1923, wound through Davenport and Reardan before coming down the hill into Spokane, then out Sprague Ave. and Appleway to the Idaho border.

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U.S. Pavilion

Spokane’s Expo ‘74 continues to recede in the rear view mirror, but the silhouette of the former United States Pavilion reminds us of that one glorious summer of exhibitions, concerts, rides, famous faces and international visitors with its spider web of cables rising above Riverfront Park.

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Coeur d’Alene waterfront aerial

The natives of the region, who called themselves the Schee-Chu-Umsh, lived and camped around Lake Coeur d’Alene for many generations before the first white men, likely French explorers or trappers, approached Lake Coeur d’Alene in the early 1800s. Those first visitors nicknamed the locals “Coeur d’Alene”, those who have a “heart like an awl”, for their sharp skills as traders. Today, the town of the same name has grown into a tourist destination over the last century.

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Post Street tightrope walker

Spokane business leaders hired Charles Blondin, the celebrated acrobat and tightrope walker, and challenged him to stretch a rope across Spokane Falls on the Fourth of July. Blondin had walked across Niagara Falls in 1859 and several times since. Crowds packed around the falls to watch Blondin, born Jean-Francois Gravelet in France in 1824, walk the rope that was strung near the Post St. Bridge.

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Broadview Dairy

Allen H. Flood, the grandson of Revolutionary War soldiers who was born in 1854, moved to Washington state from Maine in 1889 and went to work. He drove oxen in lumber camps, laid out roads as a surveyor and worked on farms. He started is own dairy herds in 1893, which eventually became the Broadview Dairy, with several hundred cows on farms in Marshall and Rosalia.

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Liberty Theater

The building on the 700 block of Riverside was once the Liberty Theater, built in 1914, and which served as a movie theater until 1954. An extensive remodel modernized the front of the building when it became a Lerner’s clothing store in 1955.

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Central Valley High Football

Education in east Spokane County began in one- and two-room school houses dotted among the farms and settlements in the Spokane River valley, beginning in the 1880s. The many one-school districts slowly merged and organized into the West Valley, East Valley and Central Valley School Districts.

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East view from courthouse

This photo, dated circa 1901, was shot from the tower of the Spokane County Courthouse looking east. Prominent in the center middle distance is the peaked roof of the Galland-Burke Brewing Company on the southeast corner of Broadway and Lincoln.

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The Elks Club building

A century ago, the elk population in Spokane was booming. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, commonly known as the Elks Club, had almost 8000 members in Spokane, rivaling the largest groups in the country.

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