Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods

Shadle Park Water Tower Spokane

Ranking All Spokane Neighborhoods

City of Spokane law, via our charter, establishes official neighborhood councils for the purpose of advising the city council and mayor. By virtue of city law, officials must define where neighborhoods are in Spokane and create boundaries and place names for them – a fascinating and fun exercise. Spokane formally has 29 official neighborhood designations. While many of the neighborhoods and their boundaries are accurate (at least from SpokanePlanner’s perspective), there are numerous official neighborhood boundaries that are either too broad, too influenced by irrational politics, or are not geographically accurate. Thus, SpokanePlanner’s list is a bit different than the […]

Moving to Spokane

Moving to Spokane

Spokane Relocation Guide Here’s all you need to know about moving to Spokane. If you’re still considering relocating to Spokane and feel undecided, then check this post out: 12 Reasons to Relocate to Spokane.   1) The white trash era is (mostly) over Spokane has long held the reputation of being a grey, downtrodden community surrounded by  Aryan Nation brotherhoods and backwoods hillbillies. Good news is we’ve scoured much of the Aryan nonsense out of the region. As far as hillbillies go, we’re still surrounded by them but they’re actually a lot of fun. Just ignore their conversations about government, con-trails, […]

Spokane Planner

12 Reasons to Relocate to Spokane

1) Our Downtown is Dope Spokane’s downtown is amongst the healthiest in the nation. It’s not a neglected urban environment of surface parking lots surrounded by tattoo parlors and check cashing services. Nah, we’re better than that, and it’s why many new-comers decided to relocate to Spokane. Downtown has the big companies you want like Apple and Nordstrom but also plenty of mom-and-pops thriving in an active, walkable, mixed-use, and dynamic urban environment.   2) This House Cost $180,000 Yep, $180,000. Three beds, two baths — how much is a home like this in your market? Although much depends on […]

#17 Vinegar Flats

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 8 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $180,000 Rental: Around $750 Housing Density: Mostly Single Family Mixed Use Rating: Fair   Vinegar Flats Neighborhood Description If this were a list of Spokane’s funkiest neighborhoods, Vinegar Flats would be ranked number one. It also has the coolest name. Natural geography and man-made obstructions have the neighborhood surrounded on all sides giving it a feeling of relative isolation despite its proximity to Browne’s Addition, Downtown, and the South Hill. There’s not a lot of reason to venture into Vinegar Flats unless you live there or are […]

Comstock Park Spokane 2018

#16 Comstock Neighborhood

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 1 Predominant Housing Prices:  Ownership: $325,000+ Rental: Very little, if any, rental options. Housing Density: Large single family residences. Mixed Use Rating: Poor   Comstock Neighborhood Description Comstock Neighborhood is a single family, upper income residential area on Spokane’s South Hill. Anchored by Comstock Park, the neighborhood benefits from its stability and superb location. From a planner’s perspective, the absence of sidewalks and an abundance of cul-de-sacs lesson Comstock’s neighborhood value. From a market perspective, however, Comstock is one of the highest valued neighborhoods on the list Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods.   Criteria An Identifiable […]

The View from High Drive Spokane

#15 High Drive Neighborhood

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 1 Predominant Housing Prices:  Ownership: $600,000+ Rental: Very little, if any, rental options. Housing Density: Large single family residences, many of which are large enough to be characterized as estates. Mixed Use Rating: Poor   High Drive Neighborhood Description High Drive is one of Spokane’s premier neighborhoods. If you’re into status symbols, you’re gonna’ love High Drive. High Drive ranks low on this list for a variety of reasons that are described in detail below. Keep in mind, however, that this blog is written by an urban planner who values characteristics of traditional, walkable […]

Garland Neighborhood, Spokane

#14 Garland Neighborhood

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 6 Predominant Housing Prices:  Ownership: Around $160,000 Rental: Around $850 Housing Density: Mostly single family homes with spots of multi-family complexes. Mixed Use Rating: Good   Garland Neighborhood Description The Garland Neighborhood is anchored by its traditional, historic commercial district, which is quite similar to a small town’s Main Street. Of all the neighborhoods on the list, Garland likely has the most potential for improvement. As it stands, the Garland neighborhood is under-performing at number 11 and can easily take strides to crack the top five best neighborhoods in Spokane. Located a […]

Corbin Park Neighborhood Spokane

#13 Corbin Park Neighborhood

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 4 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: About $225,000 Rentals: About $900 Housing Density: Low, mostly single family Mixed Use Rating: Fair with walkable access to strip malls on Division Street   Corbin Park Neighborhood Description Many characterize the Corbin Park Neighborhood as an island surrounded by a sea of inner city decay. In this writer’s opinion, such statements are exaggerated. Located on Spokane’s north side, at the foot of the North Hill – an incline that separates the uppers reaches of the north side from the lower reaches nearer to downtown – most […]

Spokanes Best Neighorhoods

#12 Lower South Hill

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 7 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $220,000 Rental: Around $750 Housing Density: Moderate – mix of single family and multi-family. Mixed Use Rating: Fair, due to proximity to downtown.   Lower South Hill Neighborhood Description The Lower South Hill neighborhood of Spokane is located adjacent to downtown between about 4th Avenue and roughly 14th Avenue as the physical South Hill begins its dramatic up-slope from the Spokane River bottoms. The Lower South Hill is a lovely mix of stately mansions — some converted to multi-family and some remain single family — condos, […]

Indian Canyon Waterfall Spokane

#11 Indian Canyon

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods — Hipster Rating (out of 10): 5 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $250,000 but with much variance Rental: Around $1,200 Housing Density: Mostly single family in the lower reaches and mostly multi family in the upper reaches. Mixed Use Rating: Fair, due an abundance of recreational amenities.   Indian Canyon Neighborhood Description Indian Canyon brims with recreational amenities. If you like biking, hiking, or strolls with your dog in some of the best natural areas within Spokane, Indian Canyon Neighborhood abides. Only a couple short minutes from downtown, your commute is quick to the urban core. Indian Canyon takes […]

Spokane Medical District Condos

#10 Medical District

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 9 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $300,000 (mostly condos) Rentals: Around $1,200 Housing Density: High Mixed Use Rating: Good   Medical District Neighborhood Description Spokane’s Medical District is the newest addition to the rankings of best neighborhoods and, my, my, has it shot up the list in a hurry. Why? Because when SpokanePlanner was recently cooking around town taking photos for the Ranking All Spokane Neighborhood’s post, I was reintroduced to the quirks that create one of Spokane’s best neighborhoods – the steep hills, the great urban density, the mixed uses, the rich […]

University District Spokane

#9 University District

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 9 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: About $150,000 Rentals: About $600 Housing Density: Moderate in most places Mixed Use Rating: Good   University District Neighborhood Description The University District is a relatively new phenomenon within Spokane. When Gonzaga University gained national notoriety in the late 1990s, enrollment skyrocketed. Once a small school with about 4,000 students, Gonzaga is now well over 10,000. Growth was so fast and furious for a few years, administrators have consciously decided to slow the enrollment rate to better allow for managed growth. In the meantime, Washington State […]

Lower Lincoln Park Spokane

#8 Lincoln Park / Altamont

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 1 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $300,000 Rental: Around $1,500 Housing Density: Single Family Mixed Use Rating: Poor   Lincoln Park-Altamont Neighborhood Description The Lincoln Park-Altamont Neighborhood represent the other side of the South Hill. Located a few miles east of Manito, the neighborhood is not the image most people conjure when talking about the South Hill. However, Lincoln Park-Altamont’s obscurity only adds to the neighborhood’s mystique. The neighborhood bursts with historic homes, particularly toward the Altamont area, and has remained largely stable since development began in the late 1800s. Lincoln Park-Altamont suffers from […]

The Flying Goat Spokane

#7 Audubon / Downriver

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 6 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: About $200,000 Rentals: About $900 Housing Density: Single Family Mixed Use Rating: Above Average   Audubon-Downriver Neighborhood Description One could easily make the argument that the Audubon-Downriver Neighborhood is actually two neighborhoods. Separated in half by Northwest Boulevard, Downriver straddles the Spokane River bluff to the south while Audubon is anchored by Audubon Park to the north. However, because both areas share the same neighborhood center (Northwest Blvd.) and both areas were developed during the same time period and thereby share very similar housing stock and architectural […]

Peaceful Valley Spokane Below Maple Street Bridge

#6 Peaceful Valley

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: About $200,000 Rentals: About $800 Housing Density: Light to moderate Mixed Use Rating: Good, due to its proximity to downtown   Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Description If this were a list of Spokane’s coolest neighborhoods, or most unique neighborhoods, Peaceful Valley would be ranked number one on both counts. Peaceful Valley brims with character due to its historic value and the natural and man-made features that surround it. Peaceful Valley is located at the bottom of the Spokane River George just west of downtown. Surrounded on all sides […]

Perry Street Spokane

#5 South Perry Neighborhood

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $225,000 Rentals: Around $1,000 Housing Density: Moderate Mixed Use Rating: Good   South Perry Neighborhood Description It wasn’t too long ago when the South Perry Neighborhood had a less than desirable reputation. Growing up the neighborhood, I would routinely ride my bike to the old Altamont Pharmacy and buy penny candy. The trip, however, involved navigating Grant Park unscathed. As a fourth-grader with low blood sugar I was willing to take the risk. To say the least, unsavory characters enjoyed loitering around Grant Park – nothing gets […]

West Central-Kendall Yards, Spokane

#4 West Central / Kendall Yards

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 9 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: About $100,000 to $500,000 Rentals: About $500 to $2,000 Housing Density: Moderate in most places Mixed Use Rating: Good   West Central / Kendall Yards Neighborhood Description The West Central Neighborhood is undergoing a phase of rapid growth specifically due to the Kendall Yards development. Long known as Felony Flats, Kendall Yards has injected new life and increased market activity into the West Central Neighborhood. Located on the north bank overlooking the Spokane River, West Central is only a short distance from downtown and many neighborhood […]

Downtown Spokane 2018

#3 Downtown

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $500,000+ Rentals: Around $1,000 but with much variance Housing Density: High Mixed Use Rating: Nearly Perfect   Downtown Spokane Neighborhood Description From a planning and economic development perspective, there are few better places than Downtown Spokane. Compared to most downtowns throughout the nation, Spokane’s is among the healthiest. For many coming off the farm fields and timberlands surrounding the city, Downtown represents an easily accessible cosmopolitan experience providing all the big-city amenities one would need. From a livability perspective, Downtown’s resurgence as a viable residential […]

Olmsted Pocket Parks

#2 The South Hill

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 5 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $300,000 but with much variance Rentals: Around $1,000 but with much variance Housing Density: Low Mixed Use Rating: Fair   South Hill Neighborhood Description How does one define and organize the South Hill into a neighborhood? For those familiar with the area, they will be the first to tell you that the South Hill is a collective of neighborhoods with different neighborhood centers, architectural styles, development eras, walkability, and boundaries. For the purposes of ranking Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods, how does one choose between the neighborhoods surrounding […]

Brownes Addition Spokane

#1 Browne’s Addition

Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods – Hipster Rating (out of 10): 10 Predominant Housing Prices: Ownership: Around $300,000 but with much variance Rentals: Around $650 but with much variance Housing Density: Moderate Mixed Use Rating: Perfect   Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Description There’s a group of hoity-toity planning and urban design professionals that sit in their offices in downtown Chicago and run an organization called the American Planning Association (APA). They’ve got the bulk of the nation’s professionals in the field convinced that the APA is the industry’s foremost authority that dictates what, exactly, Urban Planning is. In 2009, these strangers from a […]

Riverfront Park in Spokane has great trees.

Arborescence

That was a hell of a windstorm back in November. Gathering reports from various local news outlets, it’s estimated that the City of Spokane lost between 1,200 and 1,600 mature trees due to the storm. We also learned that the natural root structure of the Blue Spruce is shallow, over irrigating Ponderosa Pines makes them weaker, and the basalt formations of the South Hill don’t lend themselves well to burying power lines. (On this last point, however, it’s nothing a little creativity can’t solve.) Independent of the storm, one of Spokane’s best characteristics is the city’s tree canopy. Indeed, the […]

Spokane East Main Sidewalk

Sidewalks

The City of Spokane is exploring ways to fund sidewalk repairs and perhaps even new sidewalks in neighborhoods that don’t have them. Plans are being discussed and city employees are administering what is, to say the least, a significant project. The best cities have sidewalks in every neighborhood with few exceptions. For your scrolling pleasure, let’s take a look at some good and bad sidewalks. The first 10 photos are from other cities, the remaining photos are from Spokane. Take note of the key features that help create a great sidewalk.   Billings, Montana I wonder if this stairway in […]

Riverside Avenue, Spokane

Ingredients That Create the Best Neighborhoods

What Makes the Best Neighborhoods? Like all cities, Spokane has a variety of neighborhoods with varying degrees of magnetism. Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods, like all the Best Neighborhoods, share the same critical elements. This article will identify and define them (in no particular order).   An Identifiable Center Individual neighborhoods are like small towns within your city. Like all traditional small towns, there is a center. A common occurrence within larger cities is a classic “Main Street” environments that anchor older neighborhoods. In most cases these little Main Streets developed as separate towns until their mother city grew and enveloped them. […]

Spokane Way-Finding Signage - 2016

A Few Cheap and Easy Ways to Improve Spokane

Urban Tactics — The suggestions that follow don’t require years of planning and consensus building; they don’t require marshaling millions of tax dollars, fundraising, or special assessments; and they don’t require tax increases, public hearings, and recommendations for approval from civic stakeholders. These are everyday improvements that simply require a few rank and file municipal professionals, a small pot of money, and the will to get it done. Details matter. Unto themselves, none of these suggestions are catalytic. Taken together, however, Spokane changes for the better.   Beautify the Ugly Traffic Islands You’ve seen them before. They’re all over town. Dozens […]

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Economic Development

Marty Dickinson

Redundant, Once Again

GSI and the Art of Insanity — I’ve said this all before. There’s a half dozen different SpokanePlanner posts from almost a half-dozen span of years about how to do this right. The recipe to the secret sauce is already published. The genie is out of the bottle. Jack is out of the box. But old Spokane insists on repeating the same mistakes yet expecting different outcomes. Your actions fatigue me, Greater Spokane, Inc. (GSI). I’m not sure if I feel abused or if I enjoy the masochism. Alas, you are, without question, my muse. Thank you, by the way, […]

Spokane's Slogan

Shaping Spokane’s Image

Visit Spokane’s Leadership Transition — If you were to mold the image of Spokane to the outside world, what would it look like? If you’re the one responsible for enticing tourists to the metro, different messages will attract different tourists and different tourists contribute differently to our local economy. What, exactly, is Spokane and what kind of money do we think we can attract to it? A fun question to explore. And so it passes that Visit Spokane, those that profess to define what Spokane is to outsiders, is transitioning leadership. Their CEO, Cheryl Kilday, is moving along after about […]

Downtown Spokane Outside Baby Bar 2017

Who’s Moving to Spokane?

For those with shorter attention spans, I’ll start with the fun stuff first. For those with longer attention spans, I’ll tell you how I did it later.   Top 10 metros in the nation moving to Spokane: Seattle-Tacoma, WA Portland, OR San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Los Angeles, CA Denver, CO San Diego, CA Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Phoenix, AZ Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, WA It appears the going local hypothesis about tech refugees relocating from west coast cities is proving itself correct. Manageable traffic, affordable homes, and plenty of urban amenities is a product that sure sounds nice when migrating from the […]

Downtown Spokane Stadium Location Joe Albi

Build Us a New Stadium Downtown

This post has been updated several times since originally being published on July 7, 2018. What was once a Spokane Public Schools bond question then morphed to a city bond question and now Spokane City Council will place it on the ballot as an advisory vote because, one way or another, Spokane Public Schools has $31 million embedded into their bond request to either upgrade the current stadium on the fringe of town or build a new one downtown. Phew! What an exhausting ride. No matter how it’s paid for or who owns the ballot question, if the goal is to […]

Spokane Planner

12 Reasons to Relocate to Spokane

1) Our Downtown is Dope Spokane’s downtown is amongst the healthiest in the nation. It’s not a neglected urban environment of surface parking lots surrounded by tattoo parlors and check cashing services. Nah, we’re better than that, and it’s why many new-comers decided to relocate to Spokane. Downtown has the big companies you want like Apple and Nordstrom but also plenty of mom-and-pops thriving in an active, walkable, mixed-use, and dynamic urban environment.   2) This House Cost $180,000 Yep, $180,000. Three beds, two baths — how much is a home like this in your market? Although much depends on […]

Opportunity Zone Flow Chart

Who’s Leading Spokane’s Opportunity Zone Conversation?

From time to time projects arise that shine a spotlight on Spokane’s dysfunctional economic development environment. The last time the spotlight shone brightly was during Amazon’s HQ2 process. Now it’s shining again because there’s this new cool thing called Opportunity Zones and our leaders in economic development don’t know what they are, much less how to maximize their potential. It strikes me that if local tax dollars are going into an economic development organization then the least they can do is stay on the cutting edge of economic development tools as the feds or the state or local governments might […]

Olympia Capitol Building

Time to Repeal Washington’s ADO Laws

First Boeing, now Amazon? It’s time for the state legislature and the governor to update the Revised Code of Washington into something that enables cities, counties, and even the state to better compete in a 21st century international marketplace. As it stands, Washington State is like the best-looking person at the ball, the one everybody wants to dance with. Whoever it is that wins our attention will tolerate us for awhile until, that is, the sullen day when they come to realize our good looks just ain’t worth the cost. State code stipulates too much when it comes to economic […]

Hillyard Spokane

Metro Spokane’s Economic Development Toolbox

Don’t look now, but there are entities and jurisdictions within our fine metro working some economic development magic by leveraging real tools that attract real investment. It’s amazing how much can get done with market-driven revenue streams and public-driven economic development tools. What follows are metro Spokane’s most significant drivers of economic development.   1) Spokane City Council Whether you like it or not, Spokane City Council sets the tone for the metro. Urban policies start and end with our central city. Our suburbs will do what they will but, make no mistake, Spokane City Council is obligated to its […]

Amazon HQ2 Proposals

Comparing Amazon HQ2 Proposals

Below are links to 27 different full-length proposals for Amazon’s HQ2 project. The hard-working reporter Adanya Lustig at MuckRockDaily submitted public information requests to as many HQ2 respondents as they were able to identify. Responses are still coming in, so there will be more to share. The proposals are fascinating, to say the least. SpokanePlanner sifted through all available proposals and discovered the following: The strongest monetary incentives can be found in Boston’s proposal. Moreover, the Common Wealth of Massachusetts is also providing strong incentives should Amazon choose a location within the state. Taken together, there’s a lot of money […]

Spokane Tech

Three Simple Ways to Boost Spokane’s Tech Sector

Depending upon who you talk to, Spokane is either very close to or very far from connecting with the main stream tech economy. No matter your position on the topic, there are several tech-related economic development projects either in the works or simple enough to start that we can actively advance, as follows:   Become the Smartest City Around Here’s where the nay-sayers are wrong, because this ain’t no pipe-dream. Avista, Itron, and Urbanova are all very real innovators within the nascent smart-city sector. Itron just dropped $830 million to purchase a San Jose based smart-city competitor. When Spokane corporations […]

Spokane Economic Development

Insurgents and Disruption

There are 287 start-up accelerators in Silicon Valley. I just spent two days at one of the first of them, Plug and Play, whereby the likes of Google and PayPal were launched. If you’re curious about the leading edge of any given market sector, spend a couple days at Plug and Play watching three-minute start-up presentations. Silicon Valley deploys a unique language to describe innovative market opportunities. Words like insurgents, incumbents, platforms, space, ecosystem, acceleration, disruption – this is the lingo used by innovators and those who venture-fund them. Through the lens of Spokane’s economic development system, the words above […]

Amazon Seattle

GSI’s Two Inches of Secrecy

In recent weeks our friends at Greater Spokane, Inc. (GSI), have submitted a two-inch-thick proposal to Amazon in an effort to entice 50,000 jobs to the metro. In comparison, the Spokane Tribe of Indians also submitted a local proposal, which is 30 pages long. The state of Washington’s proposal is 16 pages long. Since GSI’s proposal was submitted, Spokane’s leadership circles have been pressing GSI to release copies of it to them. A fair and reasonable request considering it’s Spokane’s leadership circles – like the city, the county, and the airport district – that will approve the incentives should Amazon […]

Spokane Works to Attract Amazon HQ2

About Amazon

As you probably already know, Amazon is soliciting proposals for placement of an eight-billion-dollar investment that will create about 50,000 new jobs with an average wage of $100k per year, otherwise known as HQ2. It’s the talk of the nation’s economic development community, including Spokane’s. Those who get paid to conduct economic development within metro Spokane (and even those that don’t) intend to submit at least one proposal to Amazon in an effort to entice them here. Before you say it can’t be done, before you say “we don’t have at least one million people” like the request for proposals […]

Sprague Avenue Spokane Under Construction

How to Help Businesses During Street Construction

When trying to identify the more lucent and rational arguments against the beautification of north Monroe, one that stands out is businesses losing customers during construction – a legitimate concern, for certain, and one Spokane City Council, the Mayor’s office, and bureaucrats at City Hall have opportunities to address. Here are several ideas to provide relief to businesses along north Monroe and any business corridor, for that matter, when street construction occurs. If City Hall makes it a goal that not one business will close as a direct result of construction, it can be done.   Write a Quality Traffic […]

Spokane's Slogan

Spokane’s New Logo and Slogan are Perfect by Nature

Metro Spokane is going through a rebranding exercise led by Visit Spokane, our local tourism promotion organization. Because change is a tough business that stimulates questions and speculation, below are the facts behind why Creative by Nature is perfect for Spokane.   Affordable by Nature Your tax dollars didn’t pay for the rebranding exercise. Tourists and donations did. The total bill for the two-year process is expected to be around $250,000, which (mostly) comes from a bucket of money specifically designated to stimulate metro tourism; a lesser amount of money was donated by our local business community. The same bucket […]

Downtown Spokane March 2017

How to Attract Tech Firms to Spokane

Spokane is on the cusp of tapping into deep pools of investment driven primarily by the tech sector and all its tributaries. Based primarily on our proximity to the coast’s big metro tech hubs (Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco), our affordable real estate, and our quality of life, the feeling is Spokane is poised to accept a wave of tech investments as well as all those tech refugees that come with them. Trouble is no one from Spokane’s public sector is actively engaged and working to attract all that money and talent restlessly sitting over on the coast. It’s time […]

A Minneapolis Bike Share Rack

A Bike Share Plan for Spokane

Bike share programs are a new phenomenon for urban America. There’s different models for different cities but the concept is rapidly growing from metro to metro. Heck, Fargo even has one. About 80 U.S. cities have them, big and small, from New York City to Pullman (yep, Pullman). Perhaps it’s time Spokane gets in the game? After all, “To be a world class city, you need to have a bike share program,” said Bill Dossett, executive director of the Twin Cities’ bike share program. I agree with Dossett’s assertion and, I might add, bike share programs are now one of […]

Fellow Coworking Space Spokane

A Few Signs Spokane is Hipper than You Think

We Elected a City Council Person that Grows Pot Everyone around Spokane knows City Councilwoman Karen Stratton grows pot but when Seattle’s hipster indie newspaper published “The Weed Queen of Spokane,” it finally dawned on this totally dense blogger how cool it is to have an elected official in the industry. We’re likely the only city in the nation with a city councilperson that grows marijuana. Seems to me all the hippy coastal cities have a little catching up to do. I think it’s safe to say Spokane is on the cutting edge of the marijuana industry, and we did […]

Football Market Map

Measuring Spokane

Competition to attract growth between American cities is fierce. Economists have written that the game of industry recruitment that cities, counties, and states play is, ultimately, a zero sum game. I’d argue that if you’re on the winning or losing end of attracting investment, arithmetic matters, despite what scholars say. Spokane competes with other cities, as we know, and most of those cities are within our tier. Without getting too wonky, cities are easily categorized by the size and scope of their market reach. For instance, metro Spokane’s 2017 media market rank is 73rd in the nation. For some quick […]

North Monroe Spokane Construction

A Good Waste of Tax Money

The guy who owns Skippers must be very persuasive because Mayor Condon and City Administrator Theresa Sanders are buckling to his irrational will, and it’s going to cost us about $500k. I wonder, how many potholes can we fill for $500k? How many new cops can we hire for $500k? How many property crimes can we investigate for $500k? How many, how many? Condon and Sanders ought to put the guy who owns Skippers on the City’s payroll, because he’s the expert, right? The most troubling part is the guy who owns Skippers is as qualified to make knowledgeable decisions […]

Riverside Avenue, Spokane

Ingredients That Create the Best Neighborhoods

What Makes the Best Neighborhoods? Like all cities, Spokane has a variety of neighborhoods with varying degrees of magnetism. Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods, like all the Best Neighborhoods, share the same critical elements. This article will identify and define them (in no particular order).   An Identifiable Center Individual neighborhoods are like small towns within your city. Like all traditional small towns, there is a center. A common occurrence within larger cities is a classic “Main Street” environments that anchor older neighborhoods. In most cases these little Main Streets developed as separate towns until their mother city grew and enveloped them. […]

Russell Senate Office Building Hallway

Creating a Competitive Advantage

There are a lot of long and solemn hallways in Washington, DC. How best to navigate them is a learning experience for everyone, particularly elected officials. Annually, our local non-profits and governmental jurisdictions journey to the hallways of DC to lobby for their respective projects or policies. And so it comes to pass a bill that was recently introduced in the Senate’s Finance Committee called the Promise Zone Job Creation Act of 2017. Don’t look now, but Congress is considering creation of a new economic development tool that will give Spokane leverage over the competition. There are only 22 Promise […]

North Monroe Spokane

Popcorn Shrimp

The owner of Skippers on north Monroe is leading a rebellion. The city intends to expend about $7 million in streetscape beautification improvements on the street in front of his business and Gary Jarvis doesn’t want the investment, thank you very much. As The Spokesman Review reported, Jarvis fervently made his case to the public by arguing, “’It’s ill conceived,’ Jarvis said of the ‘road diet’ plan. ‘It’s not going to bring business to the area … It’s just a yuppie thing.’” Thus, we have ourselves three declarative statements against investing $7 million to beautify north Monroe. It’s ill conceived; […]

Streets, Good ‘ol Boys, and Bureaucrats

…in a city without seats, a beach chair can be king. Janette Sadik Khan, from her book Streetfight (2016)   In spring of 2016, the Audubon-Downriver Neighborhood Council invited Spokane’s traffic engineer, Bob Turner, to discuss pedestrian safety on Northwest Boulevard in front of Audubon Park. Members of the neighborhood council requested the city consider traffic calming measures to increase safety for pedestrians who criss-cross Northwest Boulevard getting to and from the park and, not to mention, to Finch Elementary School. Mr. Turner, with years of experience navigating the unique nuances of politely saying no to crowds of people, sure […]

Mark Richard, Spokane

The Guy Who Says It Can’t Be Done

Mark Richard’s Bold Vision —   They’ll always say “It can’t be done.” When government officials, business people, and even some of your own neighbors say it won’t work, what they really mean is “We’ve never done it like this before.” It’s a sign you’re on the right track. Jay Walljasper, The Great Neighborhood Book   A few weeks ago, I published a post called Streets, Good ‘ol Boys, and Bureaucrats, in which I critiqued Spokane’s political elite for their lack of urban vision (among other things). Mark Richard, President of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, felt compelled to respond via […]

Downtown Spokane Parking Lot

What Economic Development Is, and Who Has the Authority to Do It

Ask your friends what economic development is and you’ll get a variety of different answers. Ask a county commissioner, ask a city council person, ask Vinny down at Dick’s, and you’re going to get different answers to a person. The answer isn’t complicated, however. Economic development is the art of filling gaps in the market. Sometimes there’s a 100% gap and we’re creating a whole new thing, like a couple of medical schools in Spokane’s U-District. Most of the time, the gap is much less, like subsidizing losses at the Spokane Convention Center to create multipliers triggered by a robust […]

Spokane Way-Finding Signage - 2016

A Few Cheap and Easy Ways to Improve Spokane

Urban Tactics — The suggestions that follow don’t require years of planning and consensus building; they don’t require marshaling millions of tax dollars, fundraising, or special assessments; and they don’t require tax increases, public hearings, and recommendations for approval from civic stakeholders. These are everyday improvements that simply require a few rank and file municipal professionals, a small pot of money, and the will to get it done. Details matter. Unto themselves, none of these suggestions are catalytic. Taken together, however, Spokane changes for the better.   Beautify the Ugly Traffic Islands You’ve seen them before. They’re all over town. Dozens […]

Downtown Spokane (5)

Spokane’s Economic Development Environment

Spokane Economic Development — Spokane’s economic development environment is elusive to articulate. Who, in fact, is in charge of it? If a tech firm wants to build their headquarters downtown, who should they talk to first? How about primary jobs, who signs the check providing incentives for those projects? Quality of life, urban infill, beautification, the arts (yeah, that’s economic development, too), what mechanisms fund those initiatives? Saturated with many actors, from the State of Washington all the way down to local non-profits, ask the folks who play in this arena and even they will have a hard time providing […]

Downtown Spokane (4)

The Case to Increase DSP’s Budget by $4 Million Per Year

The Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) is a private, non-profit agency that manages a roughly $1.5 million annual budget. The bulk of their annual budget is generated from a special Parking and Business Improvement Area tax (otherwise known as a “business improvement district”).[i] Trouble is our City’s Parking and Business Improvement Area isn’t even in the parking business, but it ought to be. Annual revenue from the City of Spokane’s public parking meters is about $4 million per year (and growing). By transitioning DSP into the public parking business, the City and downtown will have a real, market driven tool to […]

Downtown Spokane - Early 2015

The Tail That Wags the Dog

Spokane’s Economic Development Business — Why does Spokane City Council pay the Downtown Spokane Partnership about $100,000 per year to manage another (roughly) $1,000,000 per year in downtown business assessments? No, seriously, this is a poignant question: Why does the City pay an independent, private, third party entity to manage about $1,000,000 per year in public assessment revenue and, to boot, pay them another $100,000 for the pleasure of doing it? DSP may have fooled us once, but Greater Spokane, Inc. (GSI) has fooled us twice. Why do we pay GSI about $130,000 per year to “speak for the city” […]

White House 2016

Why President Obama Should Come To Spokane

I could use your help motivating President Obama to visit Spokane. In June, 2016, the Spokane Tribe was designated a Promise Zone by the White House. There are 22 Promise Zones in the nation. New Promise Zones have a tradition of hosting a launch event soon after designation. The Spokane Tribe’s launch event is scheduled for December 1st. I asked our Promise Zone officials in Washington, DC, to invite President Obama to the Tribe’s event. In response, they requested that I provide some compelling reasons why he should attend. Below is the email I sent to our DC colleagues that […]

Inside the Pavilion

What Prosperous 21st Century Cities Do

1) Be the Big City — I suspect we all agree, Spokane has opportunities for improvement. Understanding what we are as a product and acknowledging what we can do to improve it is a big step toward doing just that. We’re the big dog, the central city. Others in the metro can be the best suburban products they can be. The City of Spokane, however, has an obligation to be the best urban product it can be. Where some might argue: “We like Spokane just as it is. There’s no reason to grow into Seattle or Portland.” I would argue […]

Macy's Downtown Spokane

A Tax Increment Analysis for the Macy’s Block

How to Finance Incentives to Stimulate Quality Redevelopment — The City of Spokane has $1,795,000 to partner with a developer to improve the derelict Macy’s block into a premier mixed-use project. The mayor’s office just doesn’t know it yet. Otherwise known as incentive money, it can be used to finance eligible public improvements that may happen in or around the Macy’s block as a result of redevelopment. At the end of this post is a link to the raw spreadsheet used to develop the above estimation. I invite you to download it, perhaps make it better. A developer is responsible […]

Downtown Spokane Retail Mix

Of Leakage, Retail Trade Areas, and Losing Downtown Department Stores

The City of Spokane is about to lose its second Costco. The first one closed in the year 2000. Not in the history of downtown development is it a good thing to lose an anchor like Macy’s — alas, downtown’s last true department store. Costco needs more space (as did the first one that abandoned the city in 2000), and Macy’s is downsizing its portfolio. It hardly needs to be said but both closures are significant hits to Spokane’s retail environment, each for its own reasons. What does this all mean? How can Spokane better compete in the retail recruitment […]

Macy's Madonna, Spokane

A Redevelopment Plan For Downtown Macy’s

A 10-Step Plan for the old Macy’s Block — Losing a downtown retail anchor like Macy’s isn’t something cities tend to brag about. But, despite the disappointing loss, many see an opportunity to rehabilitate an old building right in the heart of downtown Spokane. In a future post I intend to explore why Macy’s closed. For now, however, we need to get to work. If leaders in Spokane City Hall are at all interested in leveraging Macy’s closure into an economic development, smart growth, and quality of life opportunity (as I hope they are), there is no time to waste. […]

GSI Todd Mielke, the protector of the realm

The Best Magic Act in Town

GSI And The Art Of Illusion — I’m 37. I spent the first 18 years of my life trying to get out of Spokane and the next 18 trying to get back in. This town has a tendency to do that to people. Now, when I look around, I see a large group of us, back home, all hungry for change, and eager to transform Spokane into a 21st century city. But you don’t need to be born and raised to see Spokane’s largely squandered potential. Newcomers can see it, too, and they tend to be all the more confused […]

Mayor Condon

GSI Ignores Call for Divorce

GSI’s Puffy Talking Points On October 23 Council President Ben Stuckart delivered a letter to Christine Johnson, PhD, President of Spokane Community Colleges and Chairwoman of Greater Spokane, Inc. In it, Stuckart calls for an “internal conversation starter” whereby he questions inherent conflicts that exist between attempting to serve membership and attempting to serve the public. As Stuckart points out in his letter, I have seen GSI oppose massive multi-million dollar projects to protect the interests of current members. This is the opposite of what an economic development organization would and should do. In early 2007, the Spokane Area Economic […]

Spokane Zoning Code

How to Rewrite Spokane’s Zoning Code

…and do it for cheap, and within one year. Ask any developer in town and they’ll tell you Spokane’s zoning code is a mess. Ask any property owner trying to put up a fence, or a shed, or re-landscape their property, and they’ll tell you that Spokane’s zoning code is a mess. Ask the Spokane Home Builders’ Association, and they’ll agree. Ask Envision Spokane, and they’ll agree. Ask any neighborhood council member. Ask any city councilmember. Ask the mayor. Ask city employees. Ask the guy who plays electronic violin in front of Riverpark Square. They’ll all tell you the same […]

GSI Membership

10 Reasons to Drop Your GSI Membership

There’s a few loose threads on the security blanket that covers Spokane’s economic development environment. Some people have noticed it before, and perhaps even have come so close as to rub the tip of their finger against one. Everybody sees it, the loose threads, and yet getting out from under the warmth and comfort of the blanket is too much of a risk despite all the loose ends. What those loose threads need is someone just reckless enough to take a tug. You know as well as I do, we both want to see what happens when it unravels. Like […]

Spokane Economic Development

Grading Spokane’s Economic Development Performance

Economic development theories evolve nearly as quickly as the market. Local economic development organizations, therefore, also must evolve in an effort to consistently be at the forefront of economic development practice. Spokane’s performance toward this end has room for improvement. Many eras within the field have been largely discredited and replaced with healthier alternatives. Metro Spokane, however, still clings to several outdated models that cities of the future have long since dismissed. Below are all the broader economic development models tested and practiced by cities and counties throughout the nation. Of course, it’s difficult to capture them all, particularly smaller […]

Spokane Incentives

The Incentives GSI Can’t Give You

(Hint: It’s All of Them) — Throughout the early 2000s up until 2008, a Danish corporation called Vestas was shopping for cities to build a $250 million wind turbine manufacturing facility. With employment of roughly 500 great paying primary jobs and, not to mention, the potential of one lucky community to establish a strong base in the alternative energy sector, practically the entire nation was vying for the investment. As coincidence would have it, Greater Spokane, Inc., was in the mix. With their American headquarters firmly established in Portland, Oregon, the brass at Vestas were but a hop, skip, and […]

Spokane's Best Neighborhoods

9 Ways to Improve Spokane’s Economic Health

Nine Simple Economic Development Strategies to Improve Spokane — Below is a simple economic development plan for the City of Spokane and, indeed, for the metro. A few items on the list may perhaps be challenging to implement. Nonetheless, it’s nothing a little verve and creativity can’t solve.   1: Dispel with the notion that fundraising, grant writing, and advocating for special appropriations is economic development. This one generally speaks for itself. I know I’ve said this in a previous posting, but fundraising, grant writing, and generally asking other people for money is not an economic development strategy; to the contrary, it’s […]

The Davenport Grand Hotel

How to Negotiate a Downtown Hotel Deal

Lessons Learned from the Worthy Transaction — Mayor Condon is in a pickle. Like baseball, there are numerous unwritten rules to the economic development game that only experience within the realm can help one follow. Don’t ask me how many there are because no one really has an answer. Over time, as one moves from rookie to journeyman and, eventually, to veteran; all of these unspoken rules become ingrained in your psyche, a sixth-sense that separates the veterans from the rookies. A healthy handful of unspoken rules Mayor Condon just learned the hard way. There’s been a lot of press […]

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Politics

Al French Spokane County Commissioner

Mother’s Milk

Tender are the teats of Spokane County Commissioner Al French because he is a Perkins Coie cash cow. There’s only so much tax revenue Spokane County commissioners can spend on fixing roads, improving public safety, or anything else that increases quality of life for county residents. Alas, road quality and public safety be damned, because Commissioner Al French has a casino to slay and price is no object. As a result, the attorneys at the law firm Perkins Coie can light their cigars with Spokane County tax dollars. For instance, the attorney “J. MacLean” of Perkins Coie charges us $685 […]

Downtown Spokane 2016

We Don’t Want to Be Seattle

“We don’t want to be Seattle,” say the naysayers who tend to be the same people against transit initiatives, walkability, and neighborhood revitalization efforts. We don’t want to be Seattle is one of those canaries for those who fear change and cling to their expo ’74 version of Spokane like a toddler with a blankie. We don’t want to be Seattle. We don’t want to engage with a 21st century market place. We don’t want 21st century diversity. We’re not hipsters. We refuse to recognize that Spokane is changing, that the world is changing. Nope, we prefer to be annoyed […]

Northern Quest Kalispel Tribe

The Basic Needs of the Kalispel Tribe

Want to know how much Northern Quest makes annually? It’s a very big number but technically private information that the Kalispel Tribe has no obligation to share with a wider populace. Want to know how many enrolled Kalispel Tribal citizens there are? It’s a very small number, and they get to split that very big number they milk from their cash-cow, Northern Quest. The Kalispel Tribe is suing the United States Department of the Interior in an effort to stop the Spokane Tribe’s new casino from opening. Funny thing about lawsuits; they’re public information, accessible to anyone. About two hundred […]

Spokane's Slogan

Spokane’s New Logo and Slogan are Perfect by Nature

Metro Spokane is going through a rebranding exercise led by Visit Spokane, our local tourism promotion organization. Because change is a tough business that stimulates questions and speculation, below are the facts behind why Creative by Nature is perfect for Spokane.   Affordable by Nature Your tax dollars didn’t pay for the rebranding exercise. Tourists and donations did. The total bill for the two-year process is expected to be around $250,000, which (mostly) comes from a bucket of money specifically designated to stimulate metro tourism; a lesser amount of money was donated by our local business community. The same bucket […]

Downtown Spokane April 2016

Toward a 21st Century Spokane

What do prosperous, modern, mid-sized American metros look like? How do we carve a niche that’s different from our competitors? How does a mid-sized city like Spokane distinguish itself from the pack, be unique, be something that others are not? Spokane, for its part, has generally been stuck in a malaise of mediocrity since Expo-74 – our high-water mark in recent memory. For over 40 years, local folk have pointed to the transformative events of 1974 as the seminal marker in Spokane’s contemporary history. And they are right to do so. The bold decisions that led up to hosting an […]

How to Be Mayor

What Good Mayors Do

How to Be Mayor — A city’s mayor is its chief garbage person, pothole filler, sewer cleaner, and public safety officer. It’s a dirty job that requires pragmatism, coalition building, common sense, and leadership. If you were to ask Benjamin Barber about what traits all successful mayors share, I suspect he would cite the four common traits he wrote about in his 2013 book, If Mayors Ruled the World, which are as follows: “[1] A strong personality marked by both hubris and humor. [2] A pragmatic approach to governing. [3] Personal engagement in city affairs. [and 4] Commitment to the city as […]

GSI Todd Mielke, the protector of the realm

The Phantom Hunter

The clown in the gutter. The woman with a red scarf. The little boy hitch-hiking by a cemetery. That something under your bed. The casino that’s going to close an air force base. It gives me shivers all over. All the unknowns. All the speculation. All the conjecture. It’s terrifying! We need someone to protect us. We need The Phantom Hunter. We need Todd Mielke. Todd Mielke is so good at conjuring phantoms, he’s convinced Greater Spokane, Inc., that he’s the economic development savior for the region, despite the fact he’s been a politician or a lobbyist his entire professional […]

Mayor Condon

Here’s How To Recall Mayor Condon (just in case you’re wondering)

Mayor Condon’s shenanigans of late appear to merit exploration of a recall campaign. Here’s the process to get it done (just in case you’re wondering). In the City of Spokane, there are two possible processes to recall the mayor. The first is driven by the Ethics Commission and is far simpler than the second, which is driven by citizen petition. Here’s a simplified outline for both: Ethics Commission City’s Ethics Commission recommends a recall election to City Council based on the City’s Code of Ethics. City Council must approve the recommendation with a majority plus two vote (assuming all seven Council members […]

Fairchild AFB

Statement on Approval of Kalispel Tribe Casino Project

June 8, 2016 — Forward Fairchild and Greater Kalispel Incorporated Statement on Governor Inslee’s Decision to Approve the Kalispel Tribe Casino Project — Greater Kalispel Incorporated (GKI) and Forward Fairchild are deeply disappointed in Governor Inslee’s announcement today that he is approving the Kalispel Tribe’s Casino Project over the numerous objections from our community as the location poses a severe threat to the future of Fairchild Air Force Base (FAFB). GKI has been advocating and working to protect jobs at FAFB for more than 50 years. FAFB remains one of GKI’s top community priorities and opposes any activity that could […]

Steve Salvatori

The View From Inside the Box

In Response to My Friend Steve Salvatori — Below you will find a facebook exchange between former Spokane City Council person Steve Salvatori and SpokanePlanner. Steve was fired-up based on a post SpokanePlanner published titled “How to Weaken Spokane’s Good ol’ Boy Culture,” posted on March 30, 2016. In an effort to respond to Steve’s arguments, I have crafted this post. Much of what Steve argues I have already provided arguments against in previous posts, so links will be provided in the appropriate places. Don’t think of this as a debate between Steve Salvatori and SpokanePlanner, because it’s a debate between old-Spokane and new-Spokane, […]

Economic Development

How to Weaken Spokane’s Good ol’ Boy Culture

Ever wonder why Greater Spokane, Inc., and the Downtown Spokane Partnership hired former county commissioners to run their respective shops? It’s because core knowledge, skills, and experience within the realm of economic development matters little. Nope, in the Spokane game, it’s advocacy, lobbying, and fundraising that count most. (The funny part is they call it “economic development.”) Economic development isn’t an exercise in philanthropy; it’s market-driven. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: fundraising, grant writing, and generally asking other people for money is not an economic development strategy; on the contrary, it’s what you do when you […]

Mayor Condon

Mayor Condon’s Biggest Blunders

Four years ago Mayor David Condon swept into city hall aiming to instill a degree of business savvy and trim some fat from local government. The youngest of a large family of boys was now in a position to prove his quality, if not for himself certainly for his father and older brothers. Mayor Condon was born connected to Spokane’s old money culture, and he was appropriately groomed via Cataldo and Gonzaga Prep. His family’s mansion on Sumner Avenue was amongst the largest on the street, and conveniently located next door to some of Spokane’s oldest money, otherwise known as […]

Mayor Condon

The Loneliest Floor in City Hall

The seventh floor of City Hall is an increasingly lonely place. How did Mayor Condon get into this mess? He’s neck-deep in scandal with his head corked-back just trying keep his nose above water. Like an episode of Lost, the more you watch the more questions you have. Without a doubt, Condon is in trouble. The best sideways compliment you can say at this point is: “at least he was smart enough to cover it up until after the election.” Because of that, he’s still got a puncher’s chance. The question is, at the risk of mixing cultural metaphors, are […]

Kiemle and Hagood

The Fallacies Money Can Buy

The Gateway to Old Spokane —  There’s a room in the office building Greater Spokane, Inc., calls home with a plaque outside its doorway. A lot of people walk by it on their way into meetings. GSI’s primary corporate conference room is big — can fit a healthy 50 or so folks. They hold press conferences in it, board meetings, committee meetings, even regular old routine meetings. This is where Spokane’s most influential power brokers conjoin, where they ritualize consensus building — a unique custom formed over the course of generations whereby the topic de-jure is thoroughly analyzed to ensure […]

Spokane Zoning Code

How to Rewrite Spokane’s Zoning Code

…and do it for cheap, and within one year. Ask any developer in town and they’ll tell you Spokane’s zoning code is a mess. Ask any property owner trying to put up a fence, or a shed, or re-landscape their property, and they’ll tell you that Spokane’s zoning code is a mess. Ask the Spokane Home Builders’ Association, and they’ll agree. Ask Envision Spokane, and they’ll agree. Ask any neighborhood council member. Ask any city councilmember. Ask the mayor. Ask city employees. Ask the guy who plays electronic violin in front of Riverpark Square. They’ll all tell you the same […]

Riverfront Park, June 2015

5 Ways to Improve Spokane

It’s All About Fundamentals — Below is a list of five things Spokane can do to improve basic services.   Master the Basics There are vast swaths of Spokane – entire neighborhoods – that desperately need just the basics. It confounds me, like it does many residents, why this facet of managing the public domain appears to be so complicated, particularly when it all seems so simple: Make sure streets are in good repair. Make sure pedestrians have a safe place to walk. Make sure cyclists have a safe place to ride. Beautify the public realm. Maintain it all.   […]

Spokane Politics

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class – There are precious few reasons why Spokane should not be considered one of the premier cities in the nation, and recognized throughout as such—a magnet for innovative, entrepreneurial individuals seeking a higher quality of life in an environment, both urban and natural, where all their needs are met. Instead, those who live outside the orbit of the Northwest only have a vague notion of where Spokane is, how big we are, and what we have to offer. We may perhaps be the most obscure city in America. Where, exactly, is Spokane? Far flung, indeed, by […]

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Stluputqu

Deep Reads

Spokane Masonic Temple

When It Comes to Creating Cities, Planners Are Better Than Architects

City planning is a field far-flung from architecture. It is mystifying to think that architects are more qualified to plan cities than, say, geographers, sociologists, or even civil engineers. Architecture is a peculiar field because it represents the marriage between empirical and subjective studies. If a building functions perfectly yet looks atrocious, has the architect failed or succeeded? Perhaps, because geographers, sociologists, and civil engineers do not get the luxury of subjective analysis per se, the architect can stake rightful claim as city planner. If we look closer, however, it is revealed the architect resides over an illusionary fiefdom. The […]

Mark Richard, Spokane

The Guy Who Says It Can’t Be Done

Mark Richard’s Bold Vision —   They’ll always say “It can’t be done.” When government officials, business people, and even some of your own neighbors say it won’t work, what they really mean is “We’ve never done it like this before.” It’s a sign you’re on the right track. Jay Walljasper, The Great Neighborhood Book   A few weeks ago, I published a post called Streets, Good ‘ol Boys, and Bureaucrats, in which I critiqued Spokane’s political elite for their lack of urban vision (among other things). Mark Richard, President of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, felt compelled to respond via […]

Downtown Spokane (5)

Spokane’s Economic Development Environment

Spokane Economic Development — Spokane’s economic development environment is elusive to articulate. Who, in fact, is in charge of it? If a tech firm wants to build their headquarters downtown, who should they talk to first? How about primary jobs, who signs the check providing incentives for those projects? Quality of life, urban infill, beautification, the arts (yeah, that’s economic development, too), what mechanisms fund those initiatives? Saturated with many actors, from the State of Washington all the way down to local non-profits, ask the folks who play in this arena and even they will have a hard time providing […]

Steve Salvatori

The View From Inside the Box

In Response to My Friend Steve Salvatori — Below you will find a facebook exchange between former Spokane City Council person Steve Salvatori and SpokanePlanner. Steve was fired-up based on a post SpokanePlanner published titled “How to Weaken Spokane’s Good ol’ Boy Culture,” posted on March 30, 2016. In an effort to respond to Steve’s arguments, I have crafted this post. Much of what Steve argues I have already provided arguments against in previous posts, so links will be provided in the appropriate places. Don’t think of this as a debate between Steve Salvatori and SpokanePlanner, because it’s a debate between old-Spokane and new-Spokane, […]

Downtown Spokane Retail Mix

Of Leakage, Retail Trade Areas, and Losing Downtown Department Stores

The City of Spokane is about to lose its second Costco. The first one closed in the year 2000. Not in the history of downtown development is it a good thing to lose an anchor like Macy’s — alas, downtown’s last true department store. Costco needs more space (as did the first one that abandoned the city in 2000), and Macy’s is downsizing its portfolio. It hardly needs to be said but both closures are significant hits to Spokane’s retail environment, each for its own reasons. What does this all mean? How can Spokane better compete in the retail recruitment […]

Kiemle and Hagood

The Fallacies Money Can Buy

The Gateway to Old Spokane —  There’s a room in the office building Greater Spokane, Inc., calls home with a plaque outside its doorway. A lot of people walk by it on their way into meetings. GSI’s primary corporate conference room is big — can fit a healthy 50 or so folks. They hold press conferences in it, board meetings, committee meetings, even regular old routine meetings. This is where Spokane’s most influential power brokers conjoin, where they ritualize consensus building — a unique custom formed over the course of generations whereby the topic de-jure is thoroughly analyzed to ensure […]

BEA Trading Areas

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle – The Boise State University football program has a lot in common with Gonzaga University men’s basketball program. Both programs suffered from decades of quiet, mediocre teams before bursting into the national sports psyche forcing east-coast-biased pundits to reorient their perspectives a bit more westerly. Ian Johnson’s Statue of Liberty, trick play, two-point conversation to win the 2007 Fiesta Bowl did just as much for the Boise area as Casey Calvary’s tip-in with four seconds remaining to beat Florida and advance to the Elite-8 in the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Boise State football is to the […]

Pacific Street, Spokane

Ever Pubescent Spokane

Ever Pubescent Spokane – Let’s begin our journey by developing an understanding of Spokane as a product. Ask different people and they’ll have different perspectives on how best to market the metro. Understandably, “Near Nature, Near Perfect” was a logical choice for a regional slogan. Somewhat ironically, it was the urban advocate Downtown Spokane Partnership who trail-blazed the consensus building process around a new slogan in the early 2000s. According to an article in the Seattle Times that explained why boosters changed from the long-standing “Lilac City” to a slogan that attempts to accentuate Spokane’s natural amenities, “The city of nearly 200,000 could […]

Spokane Politics

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class

Exploring Spokane’s Political Class – There are precious few reasons why Spokane should not be considered one of the premier cities in the nation, and recognized throughout as such—a magnet for innovative, entrepreneurial individuals seeking a higher quality of life in an environment, both urban and natural, where all their needs are met. Instead, those who live outside the orbit of the Northwest only have a vague notion of where Spokane is, how big we are, and what we have to offer. We may perhaps be the most obscure city in America. Where, exactly, is Spokane? Far flung, indeed, by […]

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Spokane’s Best Parks

Mission Park Spokane

#11 Mission Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Mission Park squeezes a whole lot of amenities into 13 simple acres of flat, tree-lined greens. The Park is the recreational anchor of the historic Logan Neighborhood. Located only a few blocks from Gonzaga University, Mission Park provides a venue for students and families to enjoy the outdoors. The park is firmly woven into the fabric of Spokane. Historic buildings and old homes interplay with Mission Park’s surroundings almost to perfection. Not to mention, let’s count the amenities: baseball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, playground, splash pads, Spokane River frontage, Centennial Trail connectivity, and a pool. […]

Corbin Park Spokane

#10 Corbin Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Corbin Park is a former horse-racing oval that now offers a green oasis on the lower north side of Spokane. How cool is Corbin Park? The park was designed in 1916 by the Olmsted brothers whose father, not coincidentally, designed Central Park in New York City. Renowned park planners in their own right, parks throughout the City of Spokane were influenced by their wisdom, and Corbin demonstrates some of their hallmark planning techniques by creating different spaces in different places. Despite being a flat, nearly perfect oval, as you meander from one side of Corbin Park […]

Audubon Park Spokane

#9 Audubon Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Audubon Park is 27 acres of rolling Ponderosa Pines, playgrounds, splash pads, ball fields and basketball courts. Located in northwest Spokane, Audubon Park anchors one of the quaintest neighborhoods in town. Acreage and playground space in the park gets a boost from Finch Elementary, located in Audubon’s northeast corner. Therefore, if the park’s playgrounds are a bit too rough and tumble for your toddler, you can wander up to the school and utilize their toddler-oriented playground and feel a bit more secure in their fenced-in play areas. Audubon Park is also a popular destination for events. […]

Comstock Park, Spokane

#8 Comstock Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Comstock Park is similar in almost every way to Audubon Park (the 9th best park in Spokane) except for one significant factor, instead of a simple splash pad, Comstock has a full-blown pool and aquatics area. Comstock Park is the first park on the list located on Spokane’s South Hill. At nearly 25 acres, with rolling greens, mature trees, playgrounds, and ball fields, you may be surprised to hear that Comstock is one of the worst parks on the South Hill of Spokane. This says much about Spokane’s superior quality of park design compared to other […]

Cannon Hill Park Spokane

#7 Cannon Hill Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Cannon Hill Park is perhaps the most picturesque in Spokane. Meandering meadows, stone-built footbridges, and a rich canopy of deciduous trees create a scene fit a for a  La Grande Jatte painting. If Manito Park is the heart of the South Hill, Cannon Hill Park is the soul. Once a brick quarry, when the clay was mined out in the early 1900s, the famed Olmsted Brothers designed the rolling meadows and duck pond seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood. Today, Cannon Hill Park serves as one of Spokane’s post-card scenes. Cannon Hill is the second smallest park […]

Finch Arboretum

#6 Finch Arboretum

Spokane’s Best Parks – Finch Arboretum may be the most unique on the list of Spokane’s Best Parks, and is the first park on the list that provides a landscape more diverse than simple greens with a playground or two. In fact, diversity is the rule, rather than the exception for Finch Arboretum. To explore the entirety of it takes the bulk of a day. The magic behind Finch Arboretum is how the landscape evolves as you move deeper into the park. Upon arrival, the visitor is greeted with a lush, rolling landscape featuring shallow Garden Springs Creek, a pond, […]

Cliff Park

#5 Cliff Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Cliff Park is brilliant in its simplicity yet unique in many ways. Clocking in at the 5th spot on Spokane’s Best Parks list, it’s also the smallest of the bunch (only 4.2 acres). Cliff Park’s center piece is a giant basalt outcrop that towers above the surrounding neighborhood. There are no playgrounds or splash pads or ball fields at Cliff Park, just meandering trails that lead you to the top of the cliff. Children love getting lost in the park’s trail network. As Spokane Historical points out, historically the Spokane Tribe utilized Cliff Park’s peak as a […]

Liberty Park Pool Spokane

#4 Liberty Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Liberty Park is the 4th best park in Spokane for good reason. It’s the first park on the list that begins to incorporate larger acreages and more dynamic changes as you explore different spaces within it. Liberty Park is located a stone’s throw from downtown on Spokane’s lower eastside and has been the victim, in many ways, of large public works projects that have proved to fragment the neighborhood – namely Interstate 90. As a result, Liberty Park and the surrounding neighborhood have seen decades of decline. Although probably not the best place to visit alone […]

Upper Lincoln Park Spokane

#3 Lincoln Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – In lesser cities, Lincoln Park would be considered the crème-de-le-crème of the park system but, in Spokane, it is ranked third on the list of Spokane’s Best Parks. Bisected in half by a steep bluff that, in places, is a sheer cliff, the upper and lower halves of Lincoln Park are distinctly different environments. At roughly 51 acres, the famed Olmsted brothers recognized the value of Lincoln Park’s dramatic topography and designed a place that has unique flavors for all palettes. The park’s lower portion is a generally flat, tree-lined green with playgrounds and traditional field […]

Manito Park Duncan Gardens Spokane

#2 Manito Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Manito Park is so big and diverse, you’re gonna’ need a map. The heart of Spokane’s South Hill, it’s a tough call placing Manito at number two on Spokane’s Best Parks list. It’s more than just a recreational space, it’s a destination. And it’s more than just a destination, it’s what makes Spokane, Spokane. Without it, the City would be a lesser place. Although Manito Park does have several obvious hard boundaries (such as Grand Blvd.), much of it flows into and out of surrounding neighborhoods so seamlessly you hardly know when you’ve left. Dense tree-lined […]

Classic Spokane

#1 Riverfront Park

Spokane’s Best Parks – Riverfront Park is Spokane’s best park. It’s all about the waterfalls, which are aplenty, and provide for one of the most unique urban destinations in the world. How many major metros can boast waterfalls ripping through the core of their central city? Well, let’s count them: there’s Buffalo/Niagara, certainly America’s most famous waterfalls, but they’re not downtown. Greenville, South Carolina, has Falls’ Park, which is located downtown, and those waterfalls are wonderful, but there is only one drop (Spokane has 3), and it’s not as high as Spokane’s, and the Reed River doesn’t run at 500,000 […]

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About SpokanePlanner

SpokanePlanner is written and managed by a professional Urban Planner with the intent to highlight both the best and most challenging aspects of urban Spokane. What you get is an honest perspective from a home-grown expert.

First Impressions of Spokane

It surprises you. You fly over ragged shacks, spruce trees and barren fields on your way into Spokane, a city that's difficult to reach from most major metros with a direct flight. And then you land and realize you've been tricked. You step outside to walk along the sun-kissed Spokane River during an unseasonably warm afternoon -- past Riverfront Park -- and then you're enthralled by the glory of the Spokane Falls. The Native American tribes that discovered this plot called it "Stluputqu," which means "swift water." You stand on a bridge above the bubbling falls and its mist tickles your eyebrows and your fancy. The snow-capped peaks of Mount Spokane wink at you from afar as the cloud cover wallows above. Who knew Spokane, Washington, packed this splendor?
Myron Metcalf -- ESPN writer, when he was in town to interview coach Mark Few (Gonzaga)

Spokane Pictures (Need one? Help yourself!)

Expo Art in the Spokane River

Expo Art in the Spokane River

I don’t know what that thing represents but it is an art piece installed for Expo 1974. May, 2011.

Dick's Hamburgers Spokane

The Best Burger Joint in Spokane

Dick’s Hamburgers deserves a post unto itself on this blog. When I entertain out of town guests, be them personal or professional, Dick’s is among the first places I take them. Order a Whammy, some fries, and a malt. Don’t forget to dip your burger and fries in tartar as you eat them. May, 2011.

Spokane River Condos

Condos on Beachfront Property

Those condos on the left are among the first along the Spokane River. There’s not a lot of beachfront property left overlooking Spokane’s waterfalls but these residents have a front row seat to the best show in town. May, 2011.

Clowning Around Riverfront Park

Clowning Around Riverfront Park

One of the cardinal symptoms of a healthy downtown is enough street activity to motivate local entrepreneurs engage the market, albeit one person at a time. May, 2011.

Classic Riverfront Park

Classic Riverfront Park

This view of Riverfront Park shows three out of four iconic structures within it — the Pavilion, Imax, and power plant. The only one missing is the clock tower. May, 2011.

Bloomsday Statues

Bloomsday Statues

Artist David Govedare erected 40 life size statues in honor of Spokane’s annual Bloomsday race in 1986. May, 2011.

A Lovely Day to View Spokane Falls

A Lovely Day to View Spokane Falls

Spring is the best time to explore Spokane’s waterfalls. There are plenty of vantage points from Riverfront Park to take it all in. May, 2011.

Downtown Spokane Sunset

Spokane’s Most Photogenic Images

Capturing The Essence Of Urban Spokane — These are the pictures that shape Spokane’s urban image, our best face.   The View from Cliff Drive   Gondolas from Post Street Bridge   View of the Falls from Monroe Street Bridge   Another View of the Falls from Atop Monroe Street Bridge   View of Downtown from Kendall Yards   Clock Tower and Pavilion in Riverfront Park   Looking Down Post Street to River Park Square   Descending Sunset Hill into Downtown

Another View of Spokane's Clock Tower

Another View of Spokane’s Clock Tower

Spokane’s Clock Tower is taller than most trees in Riverfront Park. It stands 155 feet tall. May, 2011.

Spokane's Clock Tower

Spokane’s Clock Tower

Up close and personal with Spokane’s Clock Tower, located in Riverfront Park. It stands 155 feet tall. May, 2011.

Riverfront Park Spokane

Speed Limit 5mph

Mind your kids along the trails in Riverfront Park. A child can sprint well faster than 5-mph. I wonder if anyone has ever gotten a ticket? May, 2011.

Riverfront Park Centennial Trail

A Great Place to Skate

The Centennial Trail through Riverfront Park is wide and inviting. May, 2011.

Spokane Performing Arts Theater

Spokane Opera House (Part II)

Spokane’s opera house directly abuts the Spokane River and Riverfront Park downtown. May, 2011.

Spokane Opera House

Spokane Opera House

The Spokane Opera House opened for Expo 1974. It’s 2,700 seat capacity hosts the metro’s top-tier performing arts tours. May, 2011. 

Spokane Imax Theater

Spokane Imax Theater

The Imax Theater in Riverfront Park was constructed for Expo 1974. As of this post (October, 2016), the Imax is slated for demolition to construct park improvements via a $64-million bond issuance approved by voters in 2014. This photo was taken in May, 2011.

Spokane Upper Falls North Wing

North Fork Spokane Falls

Canada Island splits the Spokane River at the upper falls. This is the fork to the north of Canada Island. May, 2011.

Spokane Falls

Spokane Upper Falls Looking Downstream

The view looking downstream from Spokane Falls upper drop. May, 2011.

Spokane Upper Falls

Spokane Falls Upper Drop

The upper drop of Spokane Falls is easy to view from all the footbridges that span it. May, 2011.

Spokane Falls, Spokane

Spokane Falls Main Drop (Part II)

This photo was taken in May, 2011, with the late spring water still robust. Water volume over Spokane Falls tends to peak in early April.

Up Close and Personal With Spokane Falls, Part Deux

Spokane Falls Main Drop

From the viewing stairs in Huntington Park below City Hall you can get up close and personal with the main drop of Spokane Falls. May, 2011.

The Viewing Stairs Of The Lower Spokane Falls

The Viewing Stairs Of The Lower Spokane Falls

This is the best stair case in the world, and it can be found just below City Hall in Spokane. May, 2011.

Don't Try and Raft These Bad-Boys

Class 5 Plus

This picture shows the start of a wild ride down stream. It’s merely a spectator sport on the Spokane Falls. May, 2011.

Spokane Waterfalls

That’s A Lonely Tree

This little guy must feel pretty lonely when high water comes. He can be found from a perch atop Canada Island. May, 2011.

Spokane Gondola Rides over the Falls

Spokane Gondola Rides over the Falls

There is no better view of Spokane’s waterfalls than from a gondola ride over them. Try to catch the Falls in early April or so, that’s when the run-off from winter snows is peaking. It’s a hell of a show. May, 2011.

Monroe Street Bridge from Post Street

Monroe Street Bridge from Post Street

The Spokane River drops something north of 60-feet through downtown Spokane — the second largest urban waterfall system in America (next to Niagara). The final and most significant drop is pictured here while standing atop the Post Street Bridge. May, 2011. 

Monroe Street Bridge above Spokane Falls

Monroe Street Bridge above Spokane Falls

Monroe Street Bridge is one of Spokane’s most iconic structures, and it just so happens to span the main drop of Spokane’s waterfalls. May, 2011.

Gondolas Beneath Monroe Street Bridge

Gondolas Beneath Monroe Street Bridge

The best way to see Spokane Falls is via a sky-ride over them. Our gondola line was built for Expo 1974 and remains one of Spokane’s most unique attractions. May, 2011. 

More Kiddie Rides in Riverfront Park

More Kiddie Rides in Riverfront Park

There are a lot of kiddie rides in Riverfront Park. Here’s a few of them. May, 2011.

The Ferris Wheel in Riverfront Park

The Ferris Wheel in Riverfront Park

The Ferris Wheel next to the Pavilion in Riverfront Park, Spokane. May, 2011.

Another View of the Tour Train in Riverfront Park

Another View of the Tour Train in Riverfront Park

…just another view of the tour train in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

The Tour Train in Riverfront Park

The Tour Train in Riverfront Park

This little guy will take you around most of Riverfront Park’s roughly 100 acres. May, 2011.

Another View of the Looff Carrousel

Another View of the Looff Carrousel

The view looking easterly at the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Looff Carrousel Spokane

Looff Carrousel Spokane

Spokane’s Looff Carrousel was built in 1909. Today, it’s considered a work of art from multiple perspectives — mechanically, wood working, colors. It can be found in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Inside Spokane's Looff Carrousel

Inside Spokane’s Looff Carrousel

The view from inside inside Spokane’s Looff Carrousel. May, 2011.

Kids' Games Beneath the Pavilion

Kids’ Games Beneath the Pavilion

Kids love all the joy-rides beneath the Pavilion in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Beneath the Pavilion

Beneath the Pavilion

The Pavilion in Riverfront Park was a big tent structure for Expo 1974 activities. Locals joke that Seattle got the Space Needle, and Spokane got a big tent. May, 2011.

The Pavilion at Riverfront Park

The Pavilion at Riverfront Park

A nice view of the Pavilion at Riverfront Park. It was originally built as a tent for Expo 1974. May, 2011.

The Shops Beneath the Pavilion

The Shops Beneath the Pavilion

The shops beneath the Pavilion in Riverfront Park provide access to the IMAX and additional kids activities. May, 2011.

Inside the Pavilion

Inside the Pavilion

The view from inside the Pavilion at Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Spokane Opera House and Clock Tower

Opera House and Clock Tower

Locals refer to the diagonalled INB Performing Arts Center by its given name — the Opera House. Both the Opera House and the Clock Tower are in Riverfront Park, downtown. May, 2011.

Washington Water Power and Post Street Bridge

Washington Water Power and Post Street Bridge

The big, brick Washington Water Power building, located in downtown Spokane, collects energy from the Spokane River. May, 2011.

The Pavilion, Imax, and Clock Tower

The Pavilion, Clock Tower, and Imax

Artifacts of Expo 1974, the Pavilion, Imax, and Clock Tower. May, 2011.

Footbridge Across the Falls

Footbridge Across the Falls

One of the many footbridges in Riverfront Park. This one places you directly above the upper Falls. May, 2011.

The View from Canada Island

The View from Canada Island

The view of the upper Spokane Falls from Canada Island in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Upper Falls Power Plant

Upper Falls Power Plant

The Upper Falls Power Plant harnesses the flow from the upper Spokane Falls in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

Monroe Street Bridge

Monroe Street Bridge

A great view of the Monroe Street Bridge that gives perspective of the drop of the Spokane Falls. May, 2011.

Washington Water Power

Washington Water Power

The old Washington Water Power plant is still operational as it catches power from Spokane Falls. May, 2011.

The Falls Surrounding Canada Island

The Falls Surrounding Canada Island

When the Spokane River crests at high-flow, the footbridges around Canada Island in Riverfront Park are a perfect place to enjoy the show. May, 2011. 

Main Drop of Spokane Falls

Main Drop of Spokane Falls

A close-up view of the main drop of Spokane Falls. May, 2011.

Greater Kalispel, Inc

Diverging Washington and Stevens

These dual bridges across the Spokane River look pretty cool atop a perch in Riverfront Park. May, 2011.

The Boulevard on Riverside Avenue

The Boulevard on Riverside Avenue

The boulevard on Riverside Avenue. March, 2011.

Art Over the Falls

Art Over the Falls

This statue (title and artist unknown) provides a great vantage point overlooking the main drop of Spokane Falls and a panoramic view of Downtown Spokane. It’s located in Riverfront Park. March, 2011.

Riverside Avenue in March

Riverside Avenue in March

…it looks a lot better with leaves on the trees and green grass. March, 2011.

Bloomsday Runner Statues

Bloomsday Runner Statues

The Bloomsday runner statues (formally titled “The Joy of Running Together”) was installed in 1985 to commemorate Spokane’s popular 12k timed footrace. The artist is David Govedare. March, 2011.

Lourdes Cathedral, Downtown

Lourdes Cathedral, Downtown

Lourdes Cathedral is the seat of Bishop, as well as some of the finest architecture in town. March, 2011.

Cliff Drive Panorama Northeasterly View

Cliff Drive Panorama Northeasterly View

The view looking northeasterly from Cliff Drive overlook. March, 2011.

Cliff Drive Panorama North View

Cliff Drive Panorama North View

The view looking due north from Cliff Drive overlook. March, 2011.

Cliff Drive Panorama North-Northwesterly View

Cliff Drive Panorama North-Northwesterly View

The view looking north-northwesterly from Cliff Drive overlook. March, 2011.

Cliff Drive Panorama Northwesterly View

Cliff Drive Panorama Northwesterly View

The view looking northwesterly from Cliff Drive overlook. That’s Sacred Heart Hospital. March, 2011.

Cliff Drive Panorama West View

Cliff Drive Panorama West View

The view looking west from Cliff Drive overlook. March, 2011.

The Edge of Monroe Street Bridge

The Edge of Monroe Street Bridge

The view from street level at the edge of the Monroe Street Bridge. March, 2011.

Spokane Falls from Monroe Street Bridge

Spokane Falls from Monroe Street Bridge

The view of Spokane Falls from the Monroe Street Bridge. March, 2011.

Riverside Ave and the Masonic Temple

Riverside Avenue and the Masonic Temple

There’s a stretch of Riverside Avenue between about Monroe Street and 1st Avenue that creates a great street. This is part it. March, 2011.

Masonic Temple Looking East

Masonic Temple Looking East

The iconic Masonic Temple looking east down Riverside Avenue. In 2014, development plans were unveiled to redevelop the structure into a mixed-use project. March, 2011.

Masonic Temple Looking West

Masonic Temple Looking West

The Masonic Temple is one of Spokane’s most iconic historic landmarks. March, 2011.

Riverside Avenue Sidewalk

Riverside Avenue Sidewalk

This sidewalk adjacent to the Masonic Temple on Riverside Avenue is a slice of one of the best urban environments in Spokane. March, 2011.

Condos Along the Spokane River

Condos Along the Spokane River

These condos along the Spokane River have one of the best views in town. Downtown could use a few more projects like this. March. 2011.

Footbridges to Canada Island

Footbridges to Canada Island

These footbridges criss-cross the Spokane River throughout Riverfront Park. March, 2011.

Canada Island

Canada Island

Canada Island in Riverfront Park is a giant basalt outcrop that splits the Spokane River as it drops through Downtown. March, 2011.

Old Huntington Park

Old Huntington Park

The view of old Huntington Park from the Monroe Street Bridge. The land is now improved and beautified to provide a better viewing experience of the waterfalls. That white building in the background is Spokane City Hall. March, 2011.

Gondolas at Old Huntington Park

Gondolas at Old Huntington Park

A view of old Huntington Park before the land was beautified into an improved gathering and viewing location of Spokane Falls. March, 2011.

Gondolas Over Spokane Falls

Gondolas over Spokane Falls

Not too many cities have water falls roaring through their downtown. Not too many cities offer gondola rides just above them. Spokane’s pretty dope. March, 2011.

Spokane Falls Blvd.

Spokane Falls Boulevard Sidewalk

The sidewalk along Spokane Falls Boulevard near River Park Square. March, 2011.

Outside the Apple Store

Outside the Apple Store

Outside the Apple Store on Main Avenue, Downtown. March, 2011.

Sidewalk Along Main Avenue

Sidewalk Along Main Avenue

Main Avenue is the chicest retail destination in Spokane, particularly near River Park Square. An area’s retail mix says a lot about the market it caters to. Downtown Spokane caters to a pretty healthy market. March, 2011.

Wall Street Skywalks, Spokane

Wall Street Skywalks

There’s a lot of skywalks in Downtown Spokane. Here’s three of them over Wall Street. March, 2011.

Outside River Park Square

Outside River Park Square

The sidewalk outside the main entry to River Park Square. March, 2011.

Wall Street, Spokane

Wall Street Looking South

Another view of Wall Street this time looking south. March, 2011.

Mt. Spokane

Mt. Spokane from Cliff Drive

The view of Mt. Spokane from Cliff Drive — the South Hill’s most popular make-out spot. That’s the University District in the foreground. March, 2011.

Wall Street Looking North

Wall Street Looking North

Wall Street in Downtown Spokane was refurbished as a pedestrian mall in the 1990s. June, 2004. 

Gateway to Riverfront Park

Gateway into Riverfront Park

The gateway into Riverfront Park from Spokane Falls Boulevard. June, 2004.

Howard Street Looking South

Howard Street Looking South

The view of Howard Street looking south in Downtown Spokane. June, 2004.

The Old Fountain by the Parkade

The Old Fountain by the Parkade

In Canada, they call parking garages parkades. For a time, that’s what they called them in Spokane, too. This is the plaza behind Spokane’s historic parkade. June, 2004.

Riverside Avenue, Spokane

Eastbound Riverside Avenue

Riverside Avenue was once a hotbed for late night cruising in Downtown Spokane. Although the trend has died off for about two decades, word is it’s starting to make a comeback.

Post Street Downtown

Post Street Downtown

A view looking south along Post Street, Downtown. June, 2004.

Quiet Downtown Bistro

Quiet Downtown Bistro

This quiet Downtown setting was once an alleyway. Now, it’s a nice place to sip an espresso. June, 2004.

Back-Alley Spokane

Back-Alley Spokane

You want some nice pictures, or are you the holy type? Just a random back-alley in Downtown Spokane. June, 2004.

Spokesman Review Building Spokane

Spokesman Review from Riverside Avenue

The protruding and curve-linear Spokesman Review Building is one of Spokane’s best architectural landmarks. June, 2004.

Riverside Avenue

Riverside Avenue Looking East

Riverside Avenue looking east in June, 2004.

Main Street Spokane

Main Avenue

Main Avenue in June, 2004, looking westerly. The building on the right is Macy’s.

Pyramid Fountains

Pyramid Fountains

This great wide sidewalk is on Spokane Falls Boulevard adjacent to Riverfront Park. That old brick pyramid fountain has since been removed. June, 2004.

Downtown Spiral Staircases

Downtown Spiral Staircases

At the date this picture was taken, Downtown had three spiral staircases leading up to its skywalk system (the third being just off picture left). One of them has since been demolished to make way for a real estate investment, and the final two (showed in this June, 2004 picture) are still pretty cool, nonetheless.

Riverfront Park Kids Rides

Riverfront Park Kids’ Rides

During the summer months, kids’ activities dominate the space beneath the Pavilion in Riverfront Park. June, 2004.

Beneath the Pavilion

Beneath the Pavilion

The Pavilion in Riverfront Park hosts a multitude of activities beneath it. It was constructed for Expo 1974. June, 2004.

Spokane Smokestacks

Spokane Smokestacks

These twin smokestacks are a prominent part of Spokane’s skyline. Once an operating steam plant that provided heat for the bulk of downtown, the operation was abandoned several decades back and the structure remained vacant and dilapidated until local developers revitalized the building. Today, an array of hipster tenants occupy the structure, known as Steam Plant Square. Picture taken June, 2004.

Spokane's Tallest Buildings

Spokane’s Tallest Buildings

These are Spokane’s two tallest buildings. The white one clocks in at about 24 stories (243 feet), while the grey one clocks in at about 29 stories (288). Both were built and completed in the early 80s. Photo taken June, 2004.

Spokesman Review Building Lourdes Cathedral

Riverside Toward Lourdes

With the right vantage point down Riverside Avenue, one can capture two of Spokane’s most iconic structures: the Spokesman Review Building and Lourdes Cathedral. June, 2004.

Historic Davenport Hotel

Historic Davenport Hotel

The Davenport Hotel from Sprague Avenue. June, 2004.

Davenport Hotel, Spokane

Davenport Hotel

The Davenport Hotel from Riverside Avenue. June, 2004.

Davenport Hotel

Davenport Hotel Sidewalk

Judging by this streetscape, the Davenport Hotel spares no details. June, 2004.

Historic Downtown Spokane

Just a Wee Little Guy

That little building must be original, huh? June, 2004.

Low Flow Spokane River

Low Flow Spokane River

This June, 2004, picture illustrates well how low the Spokane River runs in high summer.

Nordstrom and River Park Square

Nordstrom and River Park Square

Most downtowns don’t have a Nordstrom. But most downtowns aren’t Downtown Spokane. June, 2004. 

Spokane River Just East of Riverfront Park

Spokane River Near Downtown

A placid June, 2004, day on the Spokane River just east of Riverfront Park, Downtown.

Coeur d'Alene Park, Spokane

Coeur d’Alene Park

Coeur d’Alene Park is the natural heart and soul of Browne’s Addition. June, 2004.

Pacific and Cannon, Brown's Addition

Pacific and Cannon

The intersection of Pacific and Cannon is the commercial heart and soul of Browne’s Addition. June, 2004.

Manito Duck Pond

Manito Duck Pond

The Manito Duck Pond (in Manito Park) was once a popular place to feed the ducks but overfeeding has led to contamination of the pond (seen in this June, 2004 picture). Now, the City has prohibited feeding and has plans to restore and improve the pond.

Steps Outside Spokane Opera House

Steps Outside Spokane Opera House

The steps outside Spokane’s Opera House along the Spokane River. June, 2004.

Riverfront Park Red Wagon

Red Wagon Slide

This over-sized Radio Flyer is a popular play area in Riverfront Park. June, 2004.

Looff Carrousel Spokane

Looff Carrousel, Spokane

The old Looff Carrousel in Downtown Spokane. June, 2004.

Centennial Trail, Riverfront Park

Centennial Trail, Riverfront Park

The Centennial Trail is a 40+ mile long pathway that stretches from Coeur d’Alene through Spokane. This stretch of the Centennial Trail in Riverfront Park is wide and inviting. June, 2004.

Downtown Spokane (5)

Downtown Spokane from Riverfront Park

Downtown Spokane from Riverfront Park. June, 2004.

Spokane Expo 1974 Art

Spokane Expo 1974 Art

What is that thing? This art piece was installed for Expo 1974 outside the Opera House. June, 2004.

Downtown Spokane (4)

Sidewalk Outside River Park Square

The sidewalk view outside of River Park Square. Downtown Spokane, June, 2004.

Dicks Hamburgers Sign, Spokane

Dicks Hamburgers Sign

Dicks Hamburgers is a classic Spokane burger joint located on the fringe of Downtown. June, 2004.

Steps Along the Spokane River

Steps Along the Spokane River

Steps along the Spokane River adjacent to the Opera House. June, 2004.

Old YMCA Building, Spokane

Old YMCA Building

The old YMCA building in Riverfront Park was demolished in 2011. This picture was taken in June, 2004.

South Hill from Downtown

South Bound from Downtown

Looking toward the South Hill from Downtown Spokane. June, 2004.

Spokane's Best Neighborhoods

The Lusso Block, Downtown Spokane

Historic and modern architecture in Downtown Spokane. June, 2004.

Riverfront Park Viewing Dock

Riverfront Park Viewing Dock

A lovely day to read a book along the Spokane River in Riverfront Park. June, 2004.

Pavilion and Clock Tower, Spokane

Classic Spokane

Spokane’s most classic urban scene — Downtown’s Pavilion and Clock Tower in Riverfront Park. June, 2004.

Spokane Opera House

Spokane Opera House

The sleek and modern Spokane Opera House along the Spokane River, Downtown. June, 2004.

Spokane County Courthouse

Spokane County Courthouse

Looks pretty dope. The Spokane County Courthouse, November, 2003.

Spokesman Review Building

Spokesman Review Building

The Burnham-esque Spokesman Review building on a rainy day in November, 2003.

Spokane River George Shacks

Spokane River George Shanties

Spokane River George beach-front property is now coveted. Not along ago, no one really cared to live there. November, 2003.

Spokane River George

Spokane River George

The Olmsted Brothers have a vision for this place — the Spokane River George looking west from the Monroe Street Bridge, Downtown. November, 2003.

Kendall Yards, 2003

Old Kendall Yards

Once known as Felony Flats, it’s in these fields above the Spokane River and adjacent to Downtown that Kendall Yards is being developed (and they are fields no longer). November, 2003.

Monroe Street Statues

Monroe Street Statues

Do you see the statue in the background? It’s just like the one in the foreground. These two gentlemen can be found on Monroe Street and Main Avenue, Downtown. November, 2003.

Low Water Spokane River

Spokane River Low Water

In late fall, even after the rains set in, the Spokane River is at it’s lowest flow of the year, as seen in this November, 2003 photo. The natural area on the right has since been converted into a park.

Rockwood Mansions

Rockwood Mansions

A couple of mansions perched atop the hill on Rockwood Boulevard in Spokane. November, 2003.

Rainy Downtown Spokane

Rainy Downtown Spokane

The skywalks come in pretty handy on those chilly wet winter days in Downtown Spokane. November, 2003.

Wet November Day, Spokane

Dreary Spokane

Being 90 miles from Canada, there are times when Spokane can be somewhat of a dreary place. This is one of them. November, 2003.

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