The major city of the Inland Empire of Washington, Spokane sits at the falls of the Spokane River 90 miles south of the Canadian boundary in central Spokane County. Settlement began in 1871, and the town was originally platted in 1881 as Spokane Falls, but was reincorporated in 1890 as Spokane. The name has two possible origins: One is that it came from the Indians who formerly lived in a village at the foot of Spokane Falls that they called “Spehkunne,” meaning “Children of the Sun” or “Sun People” since, when they fished at the falls, they stood in a rainbow or halo of light formed by sunlight striking a cloud of mist. An alternate source of the name is from Illum Spokane, an elderly chief of Middle Spokans, who once lived near the falls. It is the second-largest city in the state of Washington and there are many historic districts and features here that reflect the city’s wealth and growth as the capital of the Inland Empire, where the wealth of the region—acquired from timber, mining and agriculture industries—concentrated.
Several trading posts, owned by Pacific Fur Company, The North West Company, and Hudson’s Bay Company, operated in the vicinity from 1810 to 1826. Settlement followed in 1871, when J. J. Downing, S. R. Scranton, and R. M. Benjamin built a saw mill near Spokane Falls. On February 13, 1878, the town was platted as Spokane Falls, and in Nov. 29, 1881, it was incorporated under the same name. When the town was reincorporated in 1890, the city council altered the name to its present form. The city flourished as the industries in the region prospered; the period between 1900 and 1910 represented the city’s most pronounced period of economic and population growth. Today, a lot of historic fabric remains in the city, and there are several areas worth taking the time to explore.