In 1887, the city of Spokane granted a franchise to the pioneer newspaper editor and businessman Francis Cook and his partners in the Northwestern Land Company to operate the Spokane and Montrose Motor Railroad. Construction began in the spring of 1888.
In early Spokane, it’s hard to over emphasize the role of the railroad freight office in the world of business. If you manufactured something, sold products or needed to purchase an item, you had to pay the railroad to move it, haul it to your customer or bring it to you.
Although there were wood-frame buildings on the corner before the great fire of 1889, the lots west of the 1910 Realty Building, which is now the Delaney Apartments, and the corner were rebuilt with single-story brick storefront buildings housing cafes, taverns, auto tire repair shops, laundries, a hat cleaning service and one of Spokane’s first pet stores.
That celebration came almost two decades after city boosters had begun planning for a celebration of the centennial of the first white settlement, established around 1873. Spokane Unlimited, Inc. was formed to organize the festival, which a consultant recommended be a world’s fair themed to the environment.
As one of many new brick-and-mortar outlets, the first Spokane store opened in 1930 at 906 W. Main Ave. The bright, white modern building with a central tower in art deco style contrasted with the stodgy brick department stores that came before.