A look back at Spokane’s transformation in the last few decades
Author: Amanda Roley
Published: 5:17 PM PST December 6, 2017
Updated: 5:43 PM PST December 6, 2017

SPOKANE, Wash. – As the brand new ice ribbon in downtown Spokane prepares to open to the public on Friday, it’s is just one more thing that contributes to the overall changes in the Lilac City.

Over the years, Spokane has seen quite a bit of transformation.

Going back about seven years, Kendall Yards was just a vacant rail yard. But since 2010, it has gone through a major transformation.

“You’ve got people living in apartments, you’ve got people living in private homes and people in condos and it has changed the entire north bank of the river,” explained Kate Hudsen with Visit Spokane. A new winery tasting room and a grocery store opened recently this year, for example.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

In 2002, the Historic Davenport Hotel barely escaped demolition and becoming a parking lot. Hudsen said Spokane has the Worthy family to thank as the hotel has become iconic and a must-see building for anyone who visits.

“The saving of the Davenport really sparked a – I don’t know if ‘renaissance’ is the right word – but it was definitely a renaissance in downtown Spokane of saving all our buildings and making it more beautiful,” she said.

Then Spokane continued to make its mark with the opening of the Davenport Grand Hotel.

“It’s an easier sell to get people here for conferences and to explore Spokane,” Hudsen explained. “And once people et here they always say the same thing: ‘I had no idea Spokane was an amazingly beautiful city.’”

Taking another step back, to the creation of Riverfront Park Square. The downtown mall opened in the 70s, but became another transformation milestone for the city when it was redeveloped in 1999.
Even further back, of course, is the Expo ’74. One could convincingly argue that the city’s entire incremental transformation really started with that.

U.S. Pavilion in Riverfront Park

The U.S. Pavilion is one of the most iconic parts of the Spokane skyline and will remain standing – and an integral part – of the Riverfront Park redevelopment.

Hudsen said she has lived here for 20 years and is excited to see the city reach new heights and continue to thrive.

“When I first got here, downtown wasn’t really thriving – a lot of boarded up buildings, things that were falling apart,” she explained. “It’s been an amazing transformation over the last 20 years.”