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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Spokane in Spokane County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
 

Spokane's Evolving Riverfront

 
 
Spokane's Evolving Riverfront Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2015
1. Spokane's Evolving Riverfront Marker
Inscription.  The riverfront near Spokane Falls has been used for Many purposes since Euro-Americans settled here in the 1870s. Reflecting the values and technologies of their times, people have used the area as a source of energy, a transportation and industrial center, and a scenic, residential and recreational resource.

In the 1870s and '80s, the force of water flowing through this area was used to power sawmills and flour mills along the banks of the river. During this period Samuel Havermale, for whom the largest island is named, and James Glover purchased most of what is now Riverfront Park. With industrialization came the rail yards and depots that made Havermale Island, and what became Spokane Falls Boulevard, a transportation hub for the growing community. Beginning with the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881, railroads were a major part of this area. The clock tower on the island was originally part of the Great Northern Railroad's Spokane depot.

To meet the region's early demand for electricity, hydroelectric facilities were built at Spokane Falls. The Diversion Dam located in front of you was constructed
Marker detail: Spokane River Channels, 1884 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Spokane River Channels, 1884
The river channels as they existed during Spokane’s early years can be seen in this 1884 bird’s-eye view.
in 1922 and is part of Avista's Upper Falls Hydroelectric Development. The 300-foot-long, 35½-foot-high dam helps regulate the flow of water through the south channel of the Spokane River and into the Upper Falls Intake to the Upper Falls Powerhouse.

In spite of the area's industrial character, during the 1960s people began to recognize that the riverfront had potential to become a valuable recreation and entertainment resource. Downtown Spokane needed urban renewal and a revitalized riverfront would play a key role. Railroad tracks were removed and new structures were constructed for the 1974 World's Fair, which had over five million visitors and was themed "Celebrating Tomorrow's Fresh New Environment." In 1978, President Jimmy Carter formally dedicated the World's Fair land as Riverfront Park.

1871 • Spokane's first sawmill built on the river's south channel.
1874 • Samuel Havermale homesteads and begins industrialization of Havermale Island.
1876 • First Spokane flour mill erected by Frederick Post.
1889 • Washington Water Power Company, now named Avista, is formed.
1890 • Monroe Street Dam and Powerhouse completed.
1892 • Great Northern Railroad begins Spokane operations; depot and clock tower constructed in 1901.
1908 • The Olmsted Brothers, world-renowned landscape architects, recommend
Marker detail: Hydropower & Transportation, 1935 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, Spokane
3. Marker detail: Hydropower & Transportation, 1935
The prominence of hydropower, transportation and industrial facilities can be seen in this 1935 aerial photo.
establishing a large greenbelt along the river.
1922 • Diversion Dam, Upper Falls Intake and Upper Falls Powerhouse are constructed.
1961 • City adopts its first master plan for the riverfront, showing what would become Riverfront Park and envisioning pedestrian trails on both sides of the river.
1972 • Railroads and Avista donate 21 acres for World's Fair; railroad tracks and depots removed in 1973.
1976 • World’s Fair land becomes Riverfront Park.
1989 • Spokane Centennial Trail groundbreaking occurs.
2004 • Spokane receives the All-American City Award from the National Civic League for the second time (first in 1974).
 
Erected by Avista.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasRailroads & StreetcarsWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 47° 39.81′ N, 117° 24.961′ W. Marker is in Spokane, Washington, in Spokane County. Marker can be reached from King Cole Way east of North Washington Street, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the Riverfront Park trail, at the north end of King Cole Way, overlooking the Upper Falls Diversion Dam. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 303 West North River Drive, Spokane WA 99201, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other
Marker detail: Transition from Industrial to Recreational, 2002 image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Transition from Industrial to Recreational, 2002
The 1974 World’s Fair was a catalyst for change and marked the transition from industrial to recreational use of Spokane’s riverfront, shown above in 2002.
markers are within walking distance of this marker. Industry on the Spokane River (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Legacy of Railroads (about 700 feet away); An Evolving Shoreline (about 800 feet away); Expo '74 (about 800 feet away); Washington State Pavilion (approx. 0.2 miles away); What's in the Water (approx. 0.2 miles away); How the River Became Home for Sqelix — Spokane Tribe (approx. 0.2 miles away); Great Northern Railway Passenger Depot Clock Tower (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Spokane.
 
Also see . . .
1. Riverfront Park (Wikipedia). The origins of Riverfront Park are heavily influenced by the initial settling of Spokane on the Spokane Falls along the Spokane River, which was chosen because of the falls' hydropower potential to support a late 19th century city and its economy, and the eventual reaction to the immense amount of industrial and railroad development that engulfed and obscured the area around the falls as Spokane expanded over the ensuing decades. (Submitted on August 6, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Spokane's Riverfront Pavilion. After the fair ended, the city followed through with its plan to turn the downtown fairgrounds into Riverfront Park, a 100-acre park that includes two islands, a diversion dam and powerhouse, seven bridges,
Spokane's Evolving Riverfront Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2015
5. Spokane's Evolving Riverfront Marker
and areas on the north and south bank of the Spokane River. The pavilion stayed. (Submitted on August 6, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Great Northern Railroad Spokane Depot Clock Tower image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2015
6. Great Northern Railroad Spokane Depot Clock Tower
Upper Falls Diversion Dam image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 1, 2015
7. Upper Falls Diversion Dam
(view from marker)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 51 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 5, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   4, 5, 6. submitted on August 6, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   7. submitted on August 5, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Jan. 28, 2021