Why Is Spokane Called The Lilac City

The Lilac Garden is one of the most significant lilac gardens in the West since it has well over 100 identified cultivars from 23 different species. The magnificent double pink lilac Syringa Spokane is presently housed in the garden that was expanded by the Spokane Lilac Society in 2003 for Manito Park.

About mid-1700s, the common purple lilac made its first appearance in the United States. In Spokane, a lilac bush was first noted in 1906. J. J. Browne, a pioneering builder in Spokane, planted two lilac shrubs at W. 2226 Second Avenue in Browne’s Addition. 128 identified lilac cultivars were purchased by John Duncan in 1912 from Rochester, New York. The formal Lilac Garden at Manito Park officially began with this. Today, the Lilac Garden is one of the most significant lilac gardens in the West, with well over 100 identified cultivars from 23 different species.

The magnificent double pink lilac Syringa Spokane is presently housed in the garden that was expanded by the Spokane Lilac Society in 2003 for Manito Park. Early in the 1930s, when the neighborhood garden club was pushed by civic authorities to plant lilac shrubs all throughout the City, the concept of promoting Spokane as “The Lilac City” emerged. In Manito Park, there were 144 by 1938. Since 1938, the Spokane Lilac Festival has marked the start of spring.

What does Spokane excel at?

The largest city and county seat of Spokane County, Washington, in the United States is Spokane (/spokn/(listen)spoh-KAN)[7]. It is located in eastern Washington, along the Spokane River, close to the Selkirk Mountains, and west of the Rocky Mountain foothills, 279 miles (449 km)[8] east of Seattle along I-90, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canadian border, 18 miles (30 km) west of the Washington-Idaho border, and adjacent to the Selkirk Mountains.

The Spokane metropolitan region, the SpokaneCoeur d’Alene combined statistical area, and the Inland Northwest all have Spokane as their economic and cultural hub. Locally, it is known as “Lilac City” and as the birthplace of Father’s Day. [9] Due to its annual staging of the largest basketball tournament in the world, Spokane is officially known as Hooptown USA. [10] The Spokane International Airport is located 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of downtown Spokane and serves both the city and the larger Inland Northwest region. With 208,916 people, Spokane was the second-largest city in Washington[12] and the 101st-largest city in the country as of the 2010 Census. [13] There were 228.989 people living in Spokane as of the 2020 Census. [3] According to a 2021 estimate, there are 593,466 people living in the Spokane Metropolitan Area. [14]

The Spokane tribe, whose name in Salishan means “children of the sun,” were the first inhabitants of the region, and they subsisted on a lot of game. When the Spokane House of the North West Company was built and the region began to move west in 1810, David Thompson began exploring the region. The earliest permanent European colony in Washington was this trading post. After the Northern Pacific Railway was finished in 1881, residents began to arrive in the Spokane region. The city of Spokane Falls was formally incorporated in the same year (it was re-incorporated under its current name ten years later). [15] Inland Northwest gold and silver deposits were found in the late 19th century. Up until the 1980s, agriculture, logging, and mining were the main drivers of the local economy. The first environmental-themed World’s fair was held in Spokane during Expo ’74.

Are there lilacs in Spokane, Washington?

There is substantial disagreement about whether the city’s moniker, Lilac City, originated with the Lilac Festival or vice versa. Whatever came first, the little purple blooms gave the community its identity and a springtime focal point.

Lilacs are not indigenous to the Spokane region. In the 1700s, colonists brought them to North America for the first time. According to local lore, which is supported by the Lilac Festival, the first lilac bush was introduced to the region from Minnesota in 1882. The Public History department at Eastern Washington University, however, claims that J.J. Browne planted the first lilac bushes in his yard in 1906.

John W. Duncan reportedly planted 128 lilac shrubs at Manito Park in 1912, according to Spokane Historical. The city encouraged gardeners to plant the fragrant shrubs, which led to a lilac frenzy. According to the Spokane Lilac Festival, in addition to the lilacs at Manito, there were also 30 lilacs at Coeur d’Alene Park by 1938.

Spokane started to advertise itself as the Lilac City at some point during that. The Spokane Floral Association held its inaugural meeting in 1896, according to the Spokane Lilac Festival, however according to Spokane Historical, this didn’t happen until after the first Lilac Festival, which took place in 1938.

The Spokane Floral Association and the Associated Garden Clubs founded the Lilac Festival, which was first merely meant to be a flower exhibition. The Flower Festival Parade, which featured a float and seven decorated cars, was immediately added to the event. Shannon Mahoney, the inaugural Lilac Queen, joined the festival and parade in 1940.

After the Spokane Lilac Festival was formally established in 1945, the procession had expanded from one float to 30 floats and 40 marching bands by the end of the decade. But the procession didn’t change into the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade until a few years later.

Why was Spokane given that name?

The earliest people to live in Spokane were Native Americans. Our name, which translates to “Children of the Sun,” comes from the Spokanes. On November 29, 1881, Spokane, a city of 1.56 square miles, was formed. 350 people lived in the city at the time, which was then known as Spokan Falls. Spokane received a “e in 1883, and “Falls was eliminated in 1891. When a fire decimated the city’s downtown in 1889, it may have been the largest setback the city has ever experienced.

In 1913, a brand-new City Hall was constructed at the southwest juncture of Spokane Falls Boulevard and Wall Street, and it served as the municipality’s administrative center up until its 100th anniversary in 1981. The City’s headquarters were then relocated to the refurbished Montgomery Wards building at Spokane Falls Boulevard and Post Street. Restaurants and stores are now located in the old city hall.

Spokane held a World’s Fair in 1974. Riverfront Park, which was originally a heavily used train yard but was transformed into a park to accommodate Expo ’74, is the fair’s lasting legacy.

The second-largest city in the state of Washington, Spokane was incorporated more than 125 years ago.

What makes Spokane so unique?

Spokane is only 34 miles from Coeur d’Alene and is situated in eastern Washington close to the Idaho border. Numerous universities and institutions call it home, including Gonzaga University, Whitworth College, Spokane Falls Community College, and the Washington State University Riverpoint campus. Even though you may not have heard of it, it is, behind Seattle, the second-largest city in the state of Washington. Check out my app on GPSmyCity if you want a GPS-guided version of this post!

That’s truly how it started since the nearby valley was historically coveted because it was the most practical place for a train connection between the east and west.

In addition, a river flows through the valley and the center of Spokane. Along with its rugged beauty and ability to support life, the Spokane River drew people because of its potential for generating electricity. Farms, forests, mining, furs, and other natural resources were Spokane’s main industries, and the city also served as a railroad transportation hub.

Its present is a fusion of its past and future. There is a lot of history to learn about and enjoy in this area, which has a sizable historic downtown area, museums, railroads, state parks, and the 1974 Expo site. However, Spokane is expanding as well, and you can find new additions to its college campuses, modern companies, as well as growth in the biotech, high-tech, and healthcare sectors. Agriculture and mining are still quite important. Even if tourism may not be the most important sector, it is nonetheless a hidden treasure.

I was able to go see my father, who had just moved to Spokane. I had not really seen much of Spokane other from a brief trip there for a debate competition in high school (yeah, I was bit of a dork!). My father and I went out to discover what makes Spokane distinctive and fascinating today because we both enjoy seeing new locations.

In the late 1880s, Spokane saw a devastating fire, much like many other more well-known cities (Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto). As a result, brick and/or stone were used to construct the majority of buildings constructed after that. Not just plain old brick buildings, but lovely, adorned, and trimmed brick structures. Many of them have resisted the elements and are still standing today. Nowadays, most people have new goals. For instance, the former Empire State Bank building, which is now an office building, still has the original mail chute, elaborate staircase, vaults, and wire cage for the elevator.

Currently known as Riverside Place, the original Masonic Temple serves as a special events location for meetings and weddings.

The Spokane Review newspaper is still published from the Review building, which has been updated.

These are only a few of the ones I’ve mentioned. There are several stunning brick and stone structures in Spokane’s downtown, which you can see just driving around.

The heart of the city is cut through by a very picturesque river that may also be wild and rocky at times. It is appropriately known as the Spokane River.

With the river at its core, it makes obvious that the town would have flourished and attracted settlers. The railroads were drawn to the river’s winding path across the flat valley. Later, it drew hydroelectric power plants as a source of electricity. The Spokane Falls and the islands above them were chosen as the venue for the World Expo in 1974.

Now known as Riverfront Park, this location draws both tourists and residents. The Spokane Falls Skyride (closed in winter), the Ice Ribbon skating path, the largest Radio Flyer wagon in the world, the US pavilion, the Great Northern railroad clock tower, a sculpture walk, a military memorial, a 1909 carousel, and more may be found here (which doubles as a slide). A Totem Pole, fountains, and an IMAX cinema are also there.

I could see history being made in Spokane’s neighborhoods, downtown, and on the hills that dominated the city as we traveled through its streets.

You can obtain all the information you need by visiting the Visit Spokane website. Five historical walking excursions were discovered when I was browsing the website. I strongly advise checking these out because we learned so much about early Spokane history.

The grand Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, which was constructed in the early 1900s and still stands as a testament to the fervor and commitment of its parishioners, also struck me as impressive. As I studied all of its exquisite details—a rose window, carved front doors, vaulted ceilings, and stories shown in the stained glass panels—I was struck by how much it reminded me of European cathedrals.

We really loved the stunning Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was along the river.

Beautiful Craftsman-style neighborhoods with homes from the 1920s may be seen everywhere. There are also bungalows from the 1950s that haven’t been demolished to make way for more contemporary apartment structures.

The Spokane County building, constructed in the late 1800s and designed in the 16th Century French Renaissance style, is a wonderful homage to old-world European architecture and is still used as the county offices today.

In celebration of the man and his legacy, we also enjoyed a visit to Bing Crosby’s early 1900s childhood home, which is located on the outskirts of Gonzaga University. The mansion contains the biggest collection of Bing Crosby memorabilia in the nation.

I had the impression that Spokane celebrates all facets of its past rather than demolishing one to build a new one.

With Spokane, the landscape quickly shifts from a valley to moderate hills and then more untamed mountains covered in pine trees.

A trip to Riverside State Park revealed a more untamed version of the Spokane River as well as some breathtaking bowl- and pitcher-shaped rock formations. Crossing a suspension bridge over a river is exciting.

The Cascade mountains will eventually be reached if you keep travelling west. By traveling east, you can reach Coeur D’Alene by crossing the Idaho border. You can kayak, camp, fish, hike, and ski. or take pictures, as I did! Water skiing, boating, swimming, and fruit picking are additional outdoor pursuits you can engage in during the summer.

Finding a city with multiple colleges and universities, a bustling downtown, a significant railroad hub, and a popular tourist destination like the Riverfront Park that is not overrun with visitors is kind of odd. However, it continues to behave and seem like a little town. with every modern convenience imaginable. The airport in Spokane is another incredibly interesting feature; despite being an international airport, you can park in front of the door for about $2.00 an hour!

Oh, there must be more…

In a three-day winter visit, there was no way I could have experienced everything Spokane has to offer. But I’d really like to go to their well-known Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture when I go back. Additionally, there are the Manito Park and Botanical Gardens and the Mobius Children’s Museum.

  • You can go in comfort to all the must-see locations on a self-guided city driving tour.
  • In Spokane, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints constructed a stunning temple.
  • A developing gourmet culture is also present. While we were there, I got to have a lot of amazing home-cooked meals, but we did go out to eat once. At Anthony’s, we had the best view of the Spokane Falls ever and enjoyed some fantastic food.

If Spokane wasn’t on your radar before, it probably ought to be by now. Outdoor enthusiasts, kids, and even couples who simply want to get away from the commotion of a major city would love being here. In the winter, there was a lot to see and do. How much more there will be in the summer, I have no idea!