Downtown Spokane, Then and Now.

It’s always fascinating to look at old photographs of cities, and a nice recent development has been Google Street View which has made it easy to see what these locations look like today. I recently found a bunch of nice pictures of downtown Spokane in the 1950s and found what they look like in modern times. Hardly the most intensive historical research, a bunch of other people did most of the heavy lifting, but pretty interesting regardless.

This is at the intersection of Washington St. and Riverside Ave.


Hasn’t changed much compared to other blocks. A few buildings on the right-hand side were torn down for a parking lot, but the largest structures visible, the 1908 and 1929 Paulsen Buildings (right) and the 1911 Old National Bank Building (left) still stand today.

Looking West on Sprague Ave.


The buildings closest to the camera have all been torn down, replaced by the Washington Trust Bank Building (1973) and the STA Plaza (1995), but further down the street, most of the old buildings remain intact.

Intersection of Sprague Ave. and N. Stevens St.

sprague street spokane washington 1950s

One of the most heavily changed sections of downtown. Almost everything seen here has removed or obscured from view by new construction, only the Ridpath Hotel (1952) remains as an identifiable landmark. Were it not there I doubt I could’ve even found this location on Google.

Looking East on Riverside Ave.

vintage riverside avenue spokane washington 1950's

Changed but not unrecognizable. The Fidelity Bank Building (1952) and the previously mentioned Old National Bank Building and Paulsen Buildings are prominent landmarks in both pictures. The Fidelity and the ONB have both lost their giant neon signs, though.

Intersection of Riverside Ave. and Howard St.

Spokane WA

Not much left of the street scene above, only the distinctive spire of the Spokesman-Review Building off in the distance marks this as being the same location.

Looking East on Riverside Ave.

Spokane WA downtown postcard

Similar to the scene above. Spokane is still a beautiful city to this day, but I still feel it would be even better with more neon. At least it can be said that Spokane still has more old neon signs around than many cities do.


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