Introduction to Spokane, Washington
The city of Spokane, county seat of Spokane County, is Eastern Washington's largest metropolitan center and one of the largest cities in the state of Washington. Located along the Spokane River, the city lies only 20 miles from the Washington-Idaho border and about 280 miles east of Seattle. Officially nicknamed the "Lilac City" owing to the abundance of flowers that have flourished in the area since the early 20th Century, Spokane is surrounded by several communities including Cheney, Mead, Colbert, Millwood, and Liberty Lake. The major Interstate running through Spokane is I-90. Also servicing the city are U.S. Routes 2 and 395; and Washington State Highways 27, 231, and 278. Air travel is available from the Spokane International Airport and public transportation is provided by the Spokane Transit Authority (STA).
Spokane traces its origins to the early part of the 19th century, where it began as a prime fur trading center. By 1872, the area became settled as Spokan Falls, named for the local Indian Tribe whose moniker translates as "Children of the Sun". The completion of the Northern Pacific Railway nine years later paved the way for further settlement by settlers attracted to work in the timber and mining industries. Spokane was officially incorporated in 1881 but suffered a crippling setback in the summer of 1889, when the city's downtown commercial district was destroyed by fire. Recovery was quick, boosted by the construction of many of the grand historic buildings that still stand today. In the decade following the fire, Spokane’s population nearly tripled and the arrival of the Great Northern railroad made Spokane a transportation hub for the area. One of the city's most notable achievements occurred in 1974, when it hosted the first environmentally themed World's Fair. Spokane today stands as the business, transportation, and cultural hub for the Pacific Inland Northwest.
Spokane Attractions and Events
In terms of recreation and culture, Spokane has something for everyone. The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture includes several galleries, an outdoor amphitheater, and an 1898 restored mansion; and features the largest collection of Northern Plateau Indian art and living history in the world. The Armed Forces & Aerospace Museum captures the legacy of all branches of the military. Mobius Kids is a hands-on interactive children's museum which features an authentic Filipino village. Silverwood Theme Park is the largest of its kind in the Northwest, and is home to the giant Boulder Beach Water Park. The INB Performing Arts Center is a 2,700-seat facility which hosts a variety of entertainment events including symphony concerts, country and rock music spectaculars, and musical stage productions. In the heart of Spokane's downtown section is the 100-acre Riverfront Park. Situated on the site of the 1974 World's Fair, the Park is the site of some of Spokane's largest events.
Spokane is home to a number of annual festivals and celebrations which draw large crowds from surrounding areas. The Lilac Bloomsday Run, the largest timed road race in the world, is held in May and typically draws participants numbering in the tens of thousands. The Spokane International Film Festival, held in February, is a celebration of cinema featuring the best independent films from around the world. Hoopfest, which takes place during the last weekend in June, is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world and attracts a variety of participants across all ages and talent levels. Summertime is the setting for "100 Years of Motorcycles", a July event which features custom bike builders from around the country, nationally-known music artists, and a host of television celebrities. The Garland Village Arts & Music Festival is a street fair which takes place every August, and in early September, food lovers can take advantage of Pig-Out In The Park, an annual summer festival celebrating the joy of food.
The Spokane sports scene is highlighted by the Spokane Indians. This minor league baseball team, which competes in the Northwest League, is the class single-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers. Other professional teams in the city include the Spokane Shock of Arena Football's af2 league and the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Fans of NCAA collegiate athletics can catch some top-notch Division I competition at Gonzaga University, home of the Gonzaga Bulldogs athletic teams. Gonzaga is a member of the West Coast Conference.