Then and Now

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Spokane’s downtown had everything. From its founding in the 1870s to the end of its industrial boom in 1910, people came downtown by streetcar, then buses, for groceries, hardware, clothing, doctor appointments and restaurants.


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

Spokane’s downtown had everything. From its founding in the 1870s to the end of its industrial boom in 1910, people came downtown by streetcar, then buses, for groceries, hardware, clothing, doctor appointments and restaurants. But as the boundaries of Spokane expanded, stores migrated to the suburbs. People over a certain age can remember a time, before outlying malls and suburban grocery stores lured away shoppers, when Spokane’s downtown streets lit up with neon signs at dusk, welcoming visitors with bright display windows. The Bon Marche department store, seen circa 1960 in the photo above, opened in Spokane in 1946. In 1890, German immigrant Edward Nordhoff started the department store in Seattle and named it after a Paris retailer. Although he died in 1899, his family continued to build it into a retail giant. After WWII, the “Bon” began expanding around the Northwest, including anchor spots in a new type of real estate: the suburban shopping mall. In 2003, the chain’s owner, Federated Stores, renamed the stores as Bon-Macy’s, then to Macy’s in 2005.


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