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

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. With the backing of magnate J.P. Morgan, Hill had control of the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern Railway. Hill’s station, with its elegant clock tower, looked out on the downtown skyline, and the station’s silhouette reflected in the tranquil waters of the river’s south channel. Hill, Morgan and other backers had spent years dueling and outmaneuvering their competition, the Union Pacific Railroad, owned by Edward Harriman, William Rockefeller and Jacob Schiff. So it wasn’t a surprise when the UP men built their larger station directly in the scenic view of Hill’s depot. The area around the falls was now a noisy tangle of tracks and trestles, smoky and grimy. After WWII, train travel dropped off and the stations used less and less. There was little sentiment for saving the buildings in the late 1960s, when Expo ‘’74 planning was in full swing. The world’s fair, which gave birth to Riverfront Park, restored the natural beauty of the Spokane River gorge, as the Olmstead brothers had recommended to Aubrey White sixty years earlier. “It is a tremendous feature of the landscape and one which is rarer in a large city than river, lake, bay or mountain. Any city should prize and preserve its great landscape features, inasmuch as they give it individuality.”


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