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What Spokane, WA looked like in the 20th Century Through Fascinating Historical Photos

At the turn of the 20th-century, expansion abruptly stopped in Spokane, and the population also declined. Local people and organizations lost control of regional mines and resources to national corporations, which diverted capital outside of Spokane and decreased investment and growth opportunities in the city. The stagnation created unrest among the area’s unemployed, who were victimized by “job sharks” who charged fees for signing up workers. It was well known that job sharks and employment agencies would cheat itinerant workers by bribing them to fire entire work crews periodically, generating repeat fees for themselves.

Spokane’s economy became dominated by agriculture and logging after the decline of mining at the turn of the 20th century. In northern Idaho and southern British Columbia, the logging industry was fueled by population growth and homes, railroads, and mines. Spokane became a notable leader in manufacturing doors, window sashes, blinds, and other planning mill products. Despite being overshadowed by large timbered areas west of the Cascades and facing stiff competition from rail freight rates. Spokane had higher rail freight rates than coastal seaport cities such as Seattle and Portland so that Minneapolis merchants could ship first to Seattle and then back to Spokane for less than shipping directly to Spokane, even though the rail line passed through Spokane on the way to the coast.

Below are some fascinating historical photos that will take you back to the 20th century Spokane.

#1 Indian Center, Spokane, 1976

Indian Center, Spokane, 1976

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#2 Gonzaga College, 1900s

Gonzaga College, 1900s

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#3 1926 Interstate Coach Company bus, Spokane, 1926

1926 Interstate Coach Company bus, Spokane, 1926

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#4 People in front of log building in Mount Spokane State Park, 1930s

People in front of log building in Mount Spokane State Park, 1930s

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#5 Spokane Club, 1940s

Spokane Club, 1940s

The building, which was designed by Kirtland K. Cutter, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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#6 Steps to Vista House in Mount Spokane State Park, 1935

Steps to Vista House in Mount Spokane State Park, 1935

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#7 Streetcar no. 175 in Spokane, 1915

Streetcar no. 175 in Spokane, 1915

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#8 Sunset Highway to Spokane, 1940s

Sunset Highway to Spokane, 1940s

Image shows the Western approach to Spokane, Washington on the Sunset Highway. A red convertible is parked on the side of the road, and a man and woman stand outside of the car looking toward Spokane. Two more women are seated inside the convertible. Spokane can be seen in the distance.

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#9 Wendle Fordtown at Division and Wellesley, Spokane, 1960s

Wendle Fordtown at Division and Wellesley, Spokane, 1960s

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#10 Three-story wooden house with gingerbread trim on corner and porch in 2nd Avenue, Spokane, 1968

Three-story wooden house with gingerbread trim on corner and porch in 2nd Avenue, Spokane, 1968

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#11 Comstock Pool, Spokane, 1950

Comstock Pool, Spokane, 1950

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#12 Davenports, Spokane’s great restaurant, 1913

Davenports, Spokane's great restaurant, 1913

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#13 Downtown Spokane, 1930s

Downtown Spokane, 1930s

Image shows Riverside Avenue at Monroe Street in downtown Spokane. At far left is the statue of John Robert Monaghan, and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church. At right are the Sunset Club and the Masonic Temple. Parked cars line the street.

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#14 Downtown Spokane, 1935

Downtown Spokane, 1935

Image shows Riverside Avenue in Spokane. The camera faces west, from near Washington Street. View includes the Paulsen Center and the Old National Bank building. Cars drive down the street and are parked along the sidewalks. Pedestrians are visible.

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#15 Downtown Spokane from a distance, 1949

Downtown Spokane from a distance, 1949

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#16 Drive, Coeur d’Alene Park, 1900s

Drive, Coeur d'Alene Park, 1900s

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#17 Drive, Manito Park, 1905

Drive, Manito Park, 1905

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#18 Expo ’74 World’s Fair, Spokane, 1970s

Expo '74 World's Fair, Spokane, 1970s

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#19 Football game at Gonzaga University, 1940s

Football game at Gonzaga University, 1940s

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#20 Fort Spokane stable, 1969

Fort Spokane stable, 1969

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#21 Fort Spokane Visitor Center, 1969

Fort Spokane Visitor Center, 1969

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#22 Glover Field, 1910s

Glover Field, 1910s

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#23 Glover Field, 1910s

Glover Field, 1910s

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#24 Great Northern Railway engine, Spokane, 1940

Great Northern Railway engine, Spokane, 1940

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#25 John A Finch House, Browne’s Addition, 1900s

John A Finch House, Browne's Addition, 1900s

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#26 Laying the rafter, 1933

Laying the rafter, 1933

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#27 Loon Lake near Spokane, 1930s

Loon Lake near Spokane, 1930s

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#28 Monroe Street bridge, Spokane, 1960s

Monroe Street bridge, Spokane, 1960s

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#29 Mt. Spokane, chalet below summit, 1947

Mt. Spokane, chalet below summit, 1947

A stone building on Mount Spokane. Two young women sit on either side of the steps up to the porch, where an older man and woman sit at a table, drinking sodas. One of the women holds skis and ski poles. To the right, another woman and man sit in a convertible car.

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#30 Owen Pioneer Museum, main building, 1971

Owen Pioneer Museum, main building, 1971

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#31 Owen Pioneer Museum, post office, 1971

Owen Pioneer Museum, post office, 1971

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#32 Peeling the tamarack logs utilized in community cabin, 1930s

Peeling the tamarack logs utilized in community cabin, 1930s

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#33 Playground, A. M. Cannon Park, 1910s

Playground, A. M. Cannon Park, 1910s

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#34 Pool, A. M. Cannon Park, 1910s

Pool, A. M. Cannon Park, 1910s

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#35 A man and woman standing on a rock formation above a highway, 1940s.

A man and woman standing on a rock formation above a highway, 1940s.

The man, wearing a t-shirt and khakis, points out beyond the road. The woman stands next to him holding sunglasses and wearing striped capris, wedge sandals, and a halter top. Spokane is visible in the background. Cars pass by on the road below them.

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#36 Spokane, 1950s

Spokane, 1950s

Four views of Spokane from a distance; one aerial, 1950s. Aerial view includes Spokane Falls and Monroe Street Bridge.

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#37 Spokane Civic Center, 1945

Spokane Civic Center, 1945

At left is Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church. At right are the Sunset Club and the Masonic Temple. Parked cars line the street.

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#38 Spokane Civic Center, 1940s

Spokane Civic Center, 1940s

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#39 Spokane County Courthouse, 1900s

Spokane County Courthouse, 1900s

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#40 Spokane County Courthouse, Spokane, 1960s

Spokane County Courthouse, Spokane, 1960s

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#41 Spokane River Bridge, 1939

Spokane River Bridge, 1939

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#42 Spokane, Howard Street, 1947

Spokane, Howard Street, 1947

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#43 Spokane, showing Riverside Avenue from East, 1940s

Spokane, showing Riverside Avenue from East, 1940s

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#44 Riverside Avenue from West, 1951

Riverside Avenue from West, 1951

Billboards for "Hoffman Bros. Music Co." Eastern Outfitting Company, Fisher's Drugs, The Crescent, Goodman's Pianos, Western Supply. Also includes automobiles, buses, and pedestrians.

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#45 Corbin house, Spokane, 1968

Corbin house, Spokane, 1968

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#46 Grand Coulee Dam construction, Spokane, 1937

Grand Coulee Dam construction, Spokane, 1937

Including views of the cofferdam, excavation of the west bank of the Columbia River, cement mixing, and the suspension bridge over the project.

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#47 State Patrol welcome lodges, 1938

State Patrol welcome lodges, 1938

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#48 Stevens County Courthouse, Colville, 1950s

Stevens County Courthouse, Colville, 1950s

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#49 Rancho Rambler at Second and Bernard, Spokane, 1960s

Rancho Rambler at Second and Bernard, Spokane, 1960s

Image shows a Rancho Rambler dealership in Spokane, Washington, located at Second Avenue and Bernard Street. Cars are visible through the window.

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#50 Second Avenue between Lincoln and Monroe in Spokane, 1960s

Second Avenue between Lincoln and Monroe in Spokane, 1960s

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#51 Second Avenue between Lincoln and Monroe in Spokane, 1960s

Second Avenue between Lincoln and Monroe in Spokane, 1960s

Image shows a Dodge dealership at Second Avenue between Lincoln and Monroe in Spokane, Washington. "Dodge Job Rated Trucks" and "Dodge Rapid Service" signs are visible. The Freeman Center and steam plant towers are visible in the background.

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#52 Spokane Street Bridge, 1950s

Spokane Street Bridge, 1950s

Photograph looking northwest of the old Spokane Street Bridge over the Duwamish Waterway between West Seattle and Harbor Island

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#53 Abandoned buildings in Molson, 1963

Abandoned buildings in Molson, 1963

Ghost town Molson with former bank building, wallpaper in abandoned farmhouse, barn, outbuildings, farm equipment, windmill labelled Spokane Red Cross.

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#54 Deadman Creek Valley, 1935

Deadman Creek Valley, 1935

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#55 Dozer at work, 1937

Dozer at work, 1937

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#56 Latrines at Old Cabin, 1934

Latrines at Old Cabin, 1934

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#57 Spokane Street and Airport Way in Seattle, 1905

Spokane Street and Airport Way in Seattle, 1905

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#58 Spokane Street and Airport Way in Seattle, 1920s

Spokane Street and Airport Way in Seattle, 1920s

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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