The first visitors and settlers to this region were the Native Americans. Spokane is loosely translated from the Salish language which means “Children of the Sun.”
In the 1880’s, mineral discoveries started a boom, and for decades, mines brought wealth to the area. In addition, the fertile wheat-producing Palouse hills to the south and irrigated farms in Spokane Valley made agriculture an important part of the economy. Railroads and the timber industry made Spokane the undisputed economic center of the Inland Empire. By 1881, the Northern Pacific Railroad linked Spokane to the east coast.
Spokane was incorporated on Nov. 29, 1881, encompassing 1.56 square miles. A street railway system was established, bridges built, and platting of the north shore of the river began. In 1889, a fire ravaged the downtown area destroying 32 blocks. New construction was in brick and many of those buildings are in use today.
To the West, the City of Cheney was incorporated on November 28, 1883 and is located just 17 miles southwest of Spokane. After the creation of the Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane International Airport the City of Airway Heights was incorporated on June 28, 1955. The City of Spokane Valley, newly incorporated in 2003, was the largest incorporation in the state and the second largest single incorporation in U.S. history. It encompasses approximately 38.5 square miles of land area. Just outside the urban growth boundary, the City of Liberty Lake was incorporated on August 31, 2001 and is one of the fastest growing communities in the State of Washington.
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