Spokane Falls and the surrounding land was a gathering place and fishing site for Native American people. Pioneers settled here in the late 1800's. The railroad industry fueled the city's growth and rail yards covered Havermale Island, the present site of Riverfront Park. In preparation for Expo '74, the Spokane River was cleaned up, the rail yards were removed, and the Great Northern Railroad Depot on Havermale Island was demolished. Our Clocktower is all that remains of the 1902 depot.
Spokane is has one of the largest networks of skywalks in the United States. You can walk for many downtown blocks in this system without ever being exposed to the elements or waiting for a light at a crosswalk down at street level..
Construction on this expanse of sky bridges began in the 1960's connecting a new parking structure, the Parkade, with the Bon Marche (now Macy's). The system has continued to expand, and it connects to 2 parking garages, the big downtown stores, city hall, the library, and an assortment of restaurants, banks and small shops.
One thing you might pick up on is that Eastern Washingtonians have an accent. It's basically a standard American accent with a drawl and lots of mis-pronounced words thrown in. The most distinctive and amusing part of the accent is the pronunciation of "wash" as "warsh". For example, someone from Spokane might say "I need to warsh the car" or "I'm from Warshington". We do this without intending it or realizing that it's incorrect. My grandfather, who was a good old cowboy from northern Idaho, took it even a step further. He often pronounced "knife" as "ka-nife", "knee" as "ka-nee", etc. He would typically refer to my cute little dog as "that there dern cay-yoot". I always thought he was just kidding around until my friend told me her grandfather said things like that too!
I'm not sure where this accent came from, but my theory is that it's only been 100 years since Spokane was a typical Old West town populated by uneducated farmers, miners, railroad workers and cowboys, who in turn raised my grandparents. I then picked it up from my parents, who were born and raised in the Spokane area too. When I lived in Seattle, people constantly asked me if I was from the South because I speak with a bit of a drawl. However, you'd probably have to talk to an elderly person to get the full effect. I've heard that Julia Sweeney did impressions of her mother's Spokane accent in "God Said Ha", which might be available on video. If anyone else has some observations on this subject, I'd be interested in hearing them!
One Day Coyote was enjoying the banks of the Spokane River. He gazed across the river and saw a local tribe getting ready to fish for salmon for the winter – the local tribe enjoyed the fish and had lots of it. Coyote saw a beautiful Indian woman from this tribe. In his eyes she was the most beautiful woman in the world and he knew right then and there that he had to have her.
Coyote began the task of gathering mice, trinkets and other things that were important to him to give to the chief of the tribe in exchange for the privilege of marrying the woman, who it turned out was the chief’s daughter. The Chief turned him down, refusing to let him marry his daughter. Coyote left mad, but when he saw the woman again he just knew he had to have her. So he approached her but she got scared and ran away from him.
“If the Chief wants more he’ll get more.”
So he began the task of gathering even more to give to the Chief. The Chief stood his ground and refused to allow Coyote to marry a human. Coyote warned the Chief that if he couldn’t marry the woman, he would use his special powers to punish the Chief and his people. He threatened to ruin the water and the fish. The Chief didn’t believe it and dismissed Coyote.
Coyote prayed to the animal spirit for special powers. The animal spirit would not grant such powers unless it was certain no one would get hurt. The clever trickster coyote reassured the animal spirit that he only wanted to move rocks. The animal spirit granted him the power since it seemed harmless. But Coyote took his special powers and moved some huge rocks creating Spokane Falls, which blocked the salmon from reaching the tribe upstream.
Then, Coyote asked the tribes downstream for their help to get the woman, but he was refused by them also. After that he was mad at all the tribes along the river, so he put rocks all the way down the river to where it empties into the Columbia.
From that time the salmon were gone from the Spokane River and all its tributaries forever.
Lawrence Aripa Coeur d’Alene Tribe
There are so many places at which a traveler can get a good latte in Spokane. I know Spokane isn't Seattle, but bear with me. There are definitely some folks in town who have some skill with coffee. I would highly suggest a visit to a Thomas Hammer Coffeeshop while in Spokane. There are a number of locations -- downtown as well as in the Northtown Mall. Check out their website at hammercoffee.com for more information! Try a "Velvet Hammer!"
Be prepared for everything to close down at 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. except the bars and the 24 hour grocery stores and fast food resturants.
This means there is not much nightlife and if you want to go somewhere or to the stores....make sure to get it done in the afternoon or early evening.