Spokane, Washington, the state's second largest city and the seat of Spokane County. It is located on the Spokane River in eastern Washington, 17 miles (27 km) from the Idaho border.
Spokane is the commercial, industrial, and transportation center of the so-called Inland Empire—a lumbering, mining, and farming region that includes eastern Washington and parts of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and British Columbia. Major industries in or near Spokane are food processing, lumber milling, woodworking, and the manufacturing of aluminum. Factories here also produce machinery, fabricated metal goods, paper, and electronics equipment. The city is served by rail, an interstate highway, and an international airport.
Spokane lies in a scenic area of mountains, forests, and lakes and is noted for its many beautiful parks, which total nearly 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares). A major attraction is Spokane Falls, a series of cascades on the river in the heart of the city. Cultural institutions include the museums of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, which contain exhibits of pioneer relics, Indian arts and crafts, geology, and ornithology; and the Museum of Native American Cultures, which displays Indian art and artifacts. Gonzaga University and Whitworth College are here. Nearby are Riverside and Mount Spokane state parks.
Although trading posts were established in the Spokane area as early as 1810, no permanent settlement was made here until the 1870's, when a sawmill was built at the falls. The town, originally called Spokane Falls, was laid out in 1878. During the 1880's the building of the Northern Pacific Railway and the discovery of gold in northern Idaho spurred development, and the city was incorporated in 1890. Spokane grew rapidly for the next 20 years, then settled into a pattern of slow but steady growth. A period of expansion followed establishment of the aluminum industry during World War II. Expo '74, a world's fair, was held in Spokane in 1974.