Then and Now

Street cars in Spokane

The street car parade of 1936 marked the end of an era and showed that Spokane held their lumbering street cars in great affection even as the public bus, more versatile and efficient, took over the role of people mover in urban Spokane.


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Image One Photo Archive The Spokesman-Review Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

The street car parade of 1936 marked the end of an era and showed that Spokane held their lumbering street cars in great affection even as the public bus, more versatile and efficient, took over the role of people mover in urban Spokane. Since the 1890s, horse-pulled, and later electric, trolleys had trundled along rails laid in the middle of streets and went to pick up workers and housewives from nearby neighborhoods and brought them downtown to work, shop, see a movie, or have a soda. Real estate developers laid rails to new housing areas to entice buyers. Public transit allowed Spokane, the former frontier train stop, to become an urban center, where those without a healthy horse or personal motor car could participate in modern city life. Washington Water Power ran the electric street car system, which spawned Natatorium Park, an amusement center on the Spokane River.


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