Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city of Spokane County of which it is also the county seat, and the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. It is also the fourth largest city in the Pacific Northwest region, after Seattle, Vancouver (Canada), and Portland (Oregon). Spokane is also the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from the Washington–Idaho border, 232 miles (373 km) east of Seattle, and 1,378 miles (2,218 km) west of Minneapolis.
David Thompson explored the Spokane area and began European settlement with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company's Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington and the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. In the late 19th century, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The Spokane area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Spokane's economy has traditionally been based on natural resources, being a center for mining, timber, and agriculture; however, the city's economy has diversified to include other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors. Spokane is known as the birthplace of Father's Day, hosted the first environmentally themed World's Fair, Expo '74, and is home to Gonzaga University and Whitworth University.
The city of Spokane (then known as "Spokane Falls") was settled in 1871 and officially incorporated as a city in 1881. The city's name is drawn from the American Indian tribe known as the Spokane, which means "Children of the Sun" in Salishan. Spokane's official nickname is the "Lilac City", named after the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century. Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought major settlement to the Spokane area.
With a population of 208,916, according to the 2010 Census, Spokane is the second largest city in Washington and the 102nd largest city in the United States. Spokane is the principal city of the Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is coterminous with Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties. As of the 2010 census, the Spokane MSA had a population of 532,253. The Spokane–Coeur d'Alene Combined Statistical Area has 666,247 residents.
The first humans to live in the Spokane area arrived between twelve to eight thousand years ago and were hunter-gatherer societies that lived off the plentiful game in the area. The Spokane tribe, after which the city is named (which means "children of the sun" or "sun people" in Salishan), are believed to be either direct descendants of the original hunter-gatherers that settled in the region, or descendants of tribes from the Great Plains. When asked by early white explorers, the tribe said their ancestors came from "up North". Early in the 19th century, the Northwest Fur Company sent two white fur trappers west of the Rocky Mountains to search for fur. The trappers became the first two white men met by the Spokane tribe, who believed them to be Sama, or sacred, and set the trappers up in the Colville River valley for the winter.
The Spokane metropolitan area consists of Spokane and its surrounding communities. Spokane Valley, Four Lakes, Washington, Medical Lake, Cheney, Airway Heights, Nine Mile Falls, Deer Park, Mead, Millwood, and Liberty Lake are included in this metropolitan region. As of the 2010 census, the region had a population of 471,221. Directly east of Spokane County is the Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area, composed entirely of Kootenai County, Idaho. Coeur d'Alene anchors the Idaho portion of the agglomeration, which includes Post Falls, Rathdrum, and Hayden. The urban form of the agglomeration largely follows the path of Interstate 90 between the two cities. Both the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) have been merged into one Combined Statistical Area (CSA) by the Office of Management and Budget but still remain distinct statistical entities. The leadership of the city of Coeur d'Alene has repeatedly resisted joining the Spokane MSA due to their concerns of diminishing or losing the city's image as a scenic, resort town. The Spokane–Coeur d'Alene CSA has roughly 609,000 residents.
Life in Spokane is heavily influenced by its climate and geographical location. Spokane experiences a four-season climate, and is close to dozens of lakes and rivers for swimming, boating, rafting, and fishing, as well as mountains for skiing, hiking, biking and sightseeing according to CNN. The Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge south of Cheney is the closest natural reserve and the closest national park is Glacier National Park, approximately a four-hour drive away from Spokane.
Spokane is big enough to have many amenities of a larger city, but small enough to support annual events and traditions with a small town atmosphere. Spokane was awarded the All-America City Award by the National Civic League in 1974 and 2004. There are several museums in the city, most notably the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, a Smithsonian affiliate museum that houses a large collection of Native American artifacts as well as regional and national traveling art exhibits. Located in Browne's Addition amid the mansions of Spokane's late 19th-century "Age of Elegance", the Museum is in a secluded setting a few blocks from the center of downtown. The Mobius Science Center and the related Mobius Kid's Museum in downtown Spokane seek to provide the public with new and innovative ways to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math and allow youth to explore science, culture, and the arts through a hands-on experience.
Arts and theater
Spokane hosts a variety of visual and performing arts scenes. These attractions include a major civic theater as well as several smaller ones, the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, a jazz orchestra, an opera house, and other musical venues. The Davenport District is also home to many art galleries as well as some of Spokane's main performing arts venues. The Metropolitan Performing Arts Center was restored in 1988 and renamed Bing Crosby Theater in honor of Spokane native Bing Crosby, in 2006. The Fox Theater, which has been restored to its original 1931 Art Deco state, is the home of the Spokane Symphony. Spokane has a vibrant art scene. Spokane's two main Artwalk dates (the first Friday of February and October) attract large crowds to the art districts. Spokane's main art districts are located in the Davenport District, the Garland Business District, and East Sprague. The First Friday Artwalk, which occurs the first Friday of every month, is dedicated to local vendors and performers displaying art around Downtown.
Spokane offers an array of musical performances catering to a variety of interests. Spokane's local music scene, however, is considered somewhat lacking by some, and critics have identified a need for a legitimate all-ages venue for music performances. The Spokane Symphony presents a full season of classical music, and the Spokane Jazz Orchestra, a full season of jazz music. The Spokane Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit organization formed in 1962 that claims to be the nation's oldest, continually performing, professional, and community-supported 17-piece big band. Theater is provided by Spokane's only resident professional company, Interplayers Ensemble. Theater is also provided by the Spokane Civic Theatre and several amateur community theaters and smaller groups.