SPOKANE, Wash. – This Friday, the public will get its first look at a recently-renovated view of the Spokane River’s lower falls. Avista wanted to open up the space and create a park for the people to enjoy the view of the Spokane River’s lower falls.
The new City Plaza replaces a parking lot and an uninviting staircase. Avista’s manager of the project, Speed Fitzhugh, said the new features are all about reestablishing the river as a gathering place.
“There was a very steep staircase that hardly anybody walked over; it was too steep. You couldn’t see the river,” Fitzhugh said. “So our goal was to reconnect the citizens of Spokane – citizens, visitors, Native Americans – back to the river.”
Avista built the new City Plaza on the city’s property just north of City Hall as a gift to Spokane and its citizens. The plaza features tiered stone seating, two water features and a fire feature, which will be ignited on Friday and Saturday nights.
Each level of the plaza lures the people to continue their descent toward the Spokane River.
“As they come down, they have a more inviting view and a little bit different experience,” Fitzhugh said. “You have to draw people down to the river and that was our goal with this plaza was to draw people to the river and make it safe and enjoyable for ‘em.”
There are interpretive signs and displays, unmatched river views and three statues made by Artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand, commemorating the tribes who once gathered salmon from the river. Those tribes will be a major part of the park’s dedication ceremony when it opens to the public for the first time on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
It’s a project Avista worked to complete this year for its 125th anniversary and in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the World’s Fair in Spokane.