Spokane urbanized relatively early for a western city. Its population increased from 350 in 1880 to 104,402 in 1910. After that initial boom period, Spokane's growth stabilized. It now has a population of 215,973. Spokane's early growth spurt left it with an interesting built environment. It has several secondary or neighborhood commercial districts in addition to its densely built downtown. The most developed of those is the Sprague Avenue corridor east of downtown. It is kind of a "midtown" as the term is used in urban geography, but it isn't as developed as better known midtowns. The Sprague Avenue corridor (East Central) is adjacent to a large secondary industrial district. The primary or first industrial district in Spokane was along the Spokane River next to downtown. That district was built around a rapids in the river and utilized the power of the falling water. Most of Spokane's first industrial district has been replaced by landscaped parks and new commercial development. The industrial district in East Central developed along a rail corridor around the turn of the century. The district was populated by lumber and grain and metal mills that processed raw materials coming from the Columbian Plateau and the Coeur d'Alenes. Interstate 94 wiped out a broad swath of the residential neighborhoods that supplied customers to Sprague Avenue businesses when it was built in the mid 1960s. The commercial district today is in a sort of arrested decline. The adjacent industrial district has suffered from industrial activity generally moving east to more suburban locations. This has left a few towering grain mills and silos abandoned along the tracks. The abandoned McKinley School in East Central was recently featured in a zombie TV show (photo below).
One of the few surviving structures in Spokane's older, riverside industrial district is the Schade brewery (photo above). The Schade Brewery was built in 1903. Its design is unique for breweries of that period. It has been renovated and reused, thankfully. But it is isolated in its current condition. It is surrounded by a sea of asphalt parking lots, and modern buildings in a office park like zone of urban renewal. It is the only building of its age anywhere in sight which detracts significantly from the otherwise good preservation work.
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