Opera HouseSpokane is near nature and yet serves as the business, transportation, medical, industrial and cultural hub of the Inland Northwest, an area that comprises a population of more than 1.4 million people. Our region is located on the east side of Washington state, 18 miles west of the Idaho state line and 100 miles south of the Canadian border.

The regional economy is diverse thriving on the emergence of new technologies in research and education, health and bio-sciences, while embracing new developments in traditional industries including agriculture, manufacturing and forestry.

In partnership with industry, the economy relies on the region's continued investments in human capital and infrastructure to create an environment for success. Our award-winning K-12 schools and world-class colleges and universities reflect the region's solid commitment to education. Significant transportation and communication assets position the region for sustained growth and development.

Spokane History

Opera HouseThe first visitors and settlers to this region were the Native Americans. Spokane is loosely translated from the salish language which means“ Children of the Sun.”

In the 1880’s mineral discoveries started a boom, and for decades, these mines funneled wealth into the area. In addition, the fertile wheat-producing Palouse hills to the south, irrigated farms in Spokane Valley. Railroads and the timber industry made Spokane the undisputed economic center of the Inland Empire. By 1881 the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the Spokane area, transforming the City, linking it transcontinentally.

In 1873, James N. Glover, considered to be the founding father, arrived in Spokane. James Glover is said to have arrived here, looked at the beauty of the river and thought that it would be a perfect place for a city. “I was enchanted-overwhelmed- with the beauty and grandeur of everything I saw. It lay just as nature had made it, with nothing to mar its virgin glory. I was determined that I would possess it….”

PavilionSpokane became an incorporated City on Nov. 29, 1881, encompassing 1.56 square miles. A street railway system was established, bridges built, and platting of the north shore of the river began. In 1889, a fire ravaged the downtown area destroying 32 blocks. It is reported (not completely substantiated) that the fire was started by a saloon girl who knocked over her lantern. She was curling her hair for the evening and had her curling iron in the lantern. The fire spurred a whole new design and construction industry. The new buildings were constructed with bricks – many of which still stand today.

The City of Spokane Valley, newly incorporated in 2003, was the largest incorporation in the state and the second largest single incorporation in U.S. history. It encompasses approximately 38.5 square miles of land area.

To the West, the City of Cheney was incorporated on November 28, 1883 and is located just 17 miles southwest of Spokane.

After the creation of the Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane International Airport the City of Airway Heights was incorporated on June 28, 1955.

Today, the Spokane region continues to grow and change. Just outside the urban growth boundary, the City of Liberty Lake incorporated on August 31, 2001 and is one of the fastest growing communities in the State of Washington.

Did you know?

1. The City of Medical Lake received its name from the early Native Americans that believed in the healing properties of the lake water.

2. Over the years 1885 to 1899, twenty-two counties were made out of what was originally Spokane County. Five of these are in Idaho, six in Montana, and eleven in Washington.

3. Founded in Spokane, Washington the first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910.

4. Spokane's World's Fair of 1974 was the only U.S. fair of the Bicentennial era and was the smallest city in the world to ever host the event. It's lasting legacy is Riverfront Park, once a highly used rail yard, the property was converted into a park to host the fair.

5. Spokane is home to the largest three-on-three basketball tournament, attracting more than 5,000 teams a year.

6. Spokane is home to Bloomsday, the world's largest timed walk/run with more than 50,000 participants a year.