Coeur d'Alene Idaho Feature Image

#2 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Metro Spokane Places to Live

2020 population: 52,917
Drive time to downtown Spokane: 40 minutes

Metro Spokane Central Cities
Look! I get to use a new map.

Overall Character: ★★★★★
Urban: ★★★★★
Suburban: ☆☆☆☆☆
Walkability: ★★★☆☆
Market Activity: ★★★★★
Farm Town: ☆☆☆☆☆
Timber Town: ★★★★★
Lake / River Town: ★★★★★

Classic Shot of Coeur d'Alene
This is the classic shot of Coeur d’Alene.

Coeur d’Alene Community Description

The coolest things have French names – mirepoix, retrouvailles, foie gras – and Coeur d’Alene is no exception. For decades, the city was a market center for regional timber and mining activities. The transition into a full-blown resort town started slowly back in the early 1980s when Duane Hagadon decided to build a big hotel downtown on the lakefront. The resort market fuse burned slowly until the early 2000s, which is when Duane hit black powder. A full-blown boom ensued, and Coeur d’Alene hasn’t looked back since. Frenetic growth along the many diverse Lake Coeur d’Alene beaches and waterfront properties have attracted a mass of wealth to the area.

Downtown Coeur d’Alene is healthy as ever. With a preserved main street, towering condos, and ample public space along the waterfront, not the least of which being Tubbs Hill; it can’t be argued those who made decisions during Cd’A’s formative years didn’t have vision.

There are still remnants of Coeur d’Alene’s timber and mining soul that have a hard time comprehending the quantum shift the city has seen since the mid-1980s. From time to time, they show themselves, and their paranoia toward change, in baffling ways. In 2010 and 2011, for instance, Coeur d’Alene city council wanted to spend millions on reinventing McEuen Park, which was nothing more than a few baseball diamonds but located right downtown on the waterfront. Old time locals came out in droves opposed to the project, many citing biblical verses as arguments against it. Not long later a petition hit the ballot to dismantle the local urban renewal authority, which was leading the charge on McEuen Park improvements, as well as marquee urban infill projects, including successfully cleaning up and redeveloping polluted brownfields along the waterfront – literally disgusting remnants of Cd’A’s history – and doing so without raising taxes. Yet, some of the locals couldn’t fathom such simple things and decided there must be something nefarious going on.

As it turns out, God must like reinventing parks, urban revitalization, and pollution clean-up activities, because McEuen Park was revitalized and the Coeur d’Alene Urban Renewal Authority still exists today.

And then, of course, there’s that whole thing with the Aryans. But we’re not gonna’ talk about the Aryans. Fuck the Ayryans. They are not welcome here, and they do not represent the soul of north Idaho and metro Spokane.

Arrogantly, I’d like to think SpokanePlanner represents pieces of the metro’s soul. For three years out of my young life, I lived in Coeur d’Alene. I’ve partied in Coeur d’Alene. I married a woman from Coeur d’Alene. I’ve lost fistfights in Coeur d’Alene. I’ve snobbily hated Coeur d’Alene for a variety of urban design and development reasons. I was the Hearings Examiner for Kootneai County in Coeur d’Alene. I wrote a (bad) book in Coeur d’Alene. My first born was born in Coeur d’Alene. My mother-in-law lives in Coeur d’Alene. I learned to golf on a par 3 golf course that was really nothing more than a bar nestled on a few acres in Coeur d’Alene. I’ve jumped into Lake Coeur d’Alene after midnight in my skinnies about a million times. I went to North Idaho College, which is on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and I’ve worked in Coeur d’Alene in a variety of service positions before I knew which side of the bed I should piss on.

I know Coeur d’Alene well.

But it’s a strange thing watching a city mature into something you don’t really know anymore, even when you’re an urban planner. By virtue of its geography, Coeur d’Alene has some north Idaho left in her, but it is changing before our very eyes.

These days, as rapidly as Coeur d’Alene is changing, I’m just glad she gave me the memories. Cd’A is such a great town that soon there might even be a CoeurdAlenePlanner.

Coeur d'Alene Boardwalk
Hagadone Corporation has invested a lot in quasi public improvements in Cd’A, not the least of which being one of the world’s longest wooden docks.

Sherman Avenue downtown Coeur d'Alene
Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

More coeur d'Alene sidewalk seating.
Is this Paris or Coeur d’Alene? There’s sidewalk seating up and down Sherman Avenue.

Tubb's Hill, Coeur d'Alene, North Idaho
This is the main trail on Tubb’s Hill right in the middle of downtown Coeur d’Alene. Yum.

No where to go but up in downtown Coeur d'Alene
What McUen Park is today sure beats those old baseball diamonds. Note the condos in the background. Nowhere to build but up.

Fall in Coeur d'Alene Idaho
Fall in Coeur d’Alene is everything you think it is. The first snow tends to arrive soon after Thanksgiving.

Sander's Beach Neighborhood Coeur d'Alene
This is the Sander’s Beach neighborhood in Coeur d’Alene. If it wasn’t for the rich tree canopy, you would be able to see the lake.