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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: People line up for days to buy lots as city suffers housing crunch

Housing was so short in Spokane that people were lined up days ahead of time for a chance to buy one of 165 lots offered for sale in the Audubon Park addition. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
Housing was so short in Spokane that people were lined up days ahead of time for a chance to buy one of 165 lots offered for sale in the Audubon Park addition. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Housing was so short in Spokane that people were lined up days ahead of time for a chance to buy one of 165 lots offered for sale in the Audubon Park addition.

One man showed up three days before the sale’s start. With one day to go, at least 25 people were lined up. They were sleeping in a big tent provided by the Fred Grinnell Co., which was selling the land.

“The early purchasers have been passing away the time playing cards and telling stories,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle said. “The men have smoked while the women have gossiped.”

People were not allowed to leave the line without forfeiting their places. Food was carried in to them.

Most of the prospective buyers planned to build homes on their plots immediately. The scarcity of rental houses in Spokane “had caused many people to turn to possible home ownership.”

“We expect to sell every one of the 165 tracts,” a Grinnell representative said.

From the innovation beat: A Spokane man claimed to have invented a marvelous new device: an adding machine so small it could be carried in a pocket.

H.S. Evanson said he got the idea “from watching a Japanese friend of mine add numbers on an old Chinese bead board.”

The machine was “formed on a piece of cardboard about three by seven inches” and could add or subtract numbers up to 9,999.99.

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