Downtown Spokane Walking Tour
This walking tour includes several historic downtown buildings and winds its way to Riverfront Park.
Completed in 1914, The Davenport was the first United States hotel with air conditioning, a central vacuum system, and a pipe organ. The luxury hotel was also the first to place Crab Louis on its menu. Presidents, world leaders, and famous artists have stayed in this historic hotel that reflects the history of Spokane and Louis Davenport, a small restaurant owner who rose to become one of the city's significant figures. Like many other luxury downtown hotels, the Davenport lost business to lower-priced hotels near interstates following the decline of rail traffic, and after years of declining business, the hotel closed in 1985. The building was saved from demolition in 2000 and thanks to a complete renovation, the Davenport reopened in 2002 and is once again the premier hotel in the state of Washington.
Built in 1915 by Swedish immigrant August Paulsen, “The Bing,” as it’s affectionately called, was initially named The Clemmer Theater. Designed by renowned theater architect, Edwin Houghton and managed by Howard Clemmer, the 800 seat theater was originally designed for the showing of silent films. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and is now a fully operational theater for the performing arts.
The Fox Theater represents an early twentieth-century period of social history when movie-going existed as truly memorable experience. People dressed in their finest clothes and attended opulent movie theatres, often referred to as "picture palaces." The Fox franchise made movies, distributed them, and owned numerous theaters across the country. By the time Spokane's was built, after the crash of '29, bankers owned the company. Nevertheless, the theater arrived with the same fanfare and existed as a bastion of luxury. Renovations a decade ago allowed it to survive as the current home to Spokane Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Joseph Gandy arrived to Spokane in 1880 when the town hardly resembled a major city. He spent the next few decades helping guide the city as it benefited from mining, railroads, and the resultant population and economic boom, including financing the Willard Hotel (The Otis Hotel). The single-room-occupancy hotel served Spokane's many migratory workers who arrived in the early twentieth century. The building ultimately stands as a monument to Gandy and Spokane's early, substantial growth.
The first Catholic congregation in Spokane met in a carpenter's shop in 1881. The city suffered a destructive fire in 1889, but soon became one of the leading cities of the region thanks to the Northern Pacific Railroad. Migration to the city increased throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries as immigrants from central Europe flocked to America. These immigration patterns led to an increase in Spokane's Catholic population-a factor that led to a dramatic increase in the number of congregants. After building what would become a temporary church building, the congregation embarked upon the construction of this Italian Romanesque cathedral in 1903. Within a decade, the church was named the cathedral of the newly-created Spokane Diocese.
Constructed in 1890, the Review Building remains one of the tallest structures in Spokane. The building was designed by architect Chauncey Seaton and designed to connote the authority his newspaper sought while also fitting the irregular lot that publisher W.H. Cowles had acquired. This building was home to the Spokesman, one of many Spokane newspapers in print at the turn-of-the-century. Following the Panic of 1893, the paper meged and became the Spokesman-Review. The building was also home to the Spokane Daily Chronicle until 1921. The size and grandeur of this historic building demonstrates the significance of print newspapers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Though Spokane exists in a region far from other metropolitan centers, such as Seattle or Portland, the region grew substantially between 1880 and 1902; population increased from 1,000 to 50,000 and it was apparent that trend would continue. The 1902 planning of the Federal Building (completed in 1909) demonstrates a federal and local recognition that Spokane needed a place that could handle a post office, courts, IRS offices, land sales, and more. All told, the building exists as a historical reminder of when Spokane grew from a frontier town to inland Washington's metropolitan hub.
While representations of Lincoln often portray him as a great U.S. President and orator, the twelve-foot-high statue located in Spokane shows Lincoln as Commander in Chief, the role that consumed the bulk of his time as President. Dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1930, 40,000 people witnessed the raising of two flags via balloon, which also removed the covering over the statue. The balloons were triggered when President Hoover pressed a golden telegraph key at the White House that was connected to the device that held the balloon.
Erected in 1912-13 as a temporary city hall that was intended to be used for five years, this office building served as the seat of city government for more than seventy years. WHile most civic buildings feature ornate exterior features such as grand pillars, the lack of ornamentation in this building reflects its intended and current purpose as and office building. The building design also reflects the designers' intent that the building could also be used as a warehouse. Given this utilitarian intent, the building exhibits qualities associated with commercial buildings common to the Chicago School of architecture. The building serves as a reminder of the rapid growth of Spokane at this time and the expectation that this growth would lead to the construction of a grand civic building that was never completed.
The Looff Carrousel is a historic carousel located in Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington. Designed and built by artist Charles I.D. Looff in 1909, it has been in operation for over a century (except for a period between 1967-1975) and has been ridden by well over 100,000 people. It is one of the country's best-preserved carousels. It has 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, 2 Chinese dragons, and 2 chariot benches—all of which carved by Loff, who also constructed the rest of the carrousel. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.