Fun Facts About Spokane: Spokane, WA Facts & Trivia
As Washington state's second-largest city, Spokane offers the conveniences of urban city living while maintaining a small-town feel. Great schools, a vibrant art and culture scene, exciting nightlife, and great shopping are easily accessible from Spokane's many popular neighborhoods. While known for a strong dairy and farm industry, this northwest city holds a few secrets that many aren't aware of. Read on to discover fun facts about Spokane to pique curiosity.
Father's Day Was Founded in Spokane
As one of six children raised by a single father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, a daughter wanted to honor her father annually in the same way that a mother was. In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd proposed Father's Day, with the first celebration taking place at the local Spokane YMCA in 1910.
In 1913, a bill to make the holiday nationally recognized was introduced into Congress. However, making Father's Day an official day of celebration was challenging. Both presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge fostered its inception, but neither was successful at seeing it become a national proclamation.
Finally, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the proclamation in 1966, and Father's Day was permanently declared a national holiday by Richard Nixon in 1972. Today, U.S. citizens celebrate the occasion on the third Sunday in June.
Spokane Hosts the Largest Footrace in the World
Another Spokane local, Don Kardong, conceived of starting an annual fun run in 1976. After moving to the community in the mid-70s, he competed in numerous national races, including the 1976 Olympic Marathon. The nation was embracing running in this era, so his suggestion made local newspaper headlines, sparking interest in hosting a springtime footrace.
The town mayor at the time encouraged the idea, and the local Jaycees organization got on board to rally behind the project along with major sponsors. The first Lilac Bloomsday Run took place in May of 1977 with the billing of "Run With the Stars" due to participants known as championship runners and other noted celebrities. Just over 1,000 runners participated that year, with over 5,000 joining in on the footrace fun in 1978.
Over the years, the Bloomsday Run grew into the largest footrace in the world, with participation now routinely exceeding 60,000 competitors. In addition to just being good, clean fun, the race winners receive cash prizes and accolades from the Spokane community.
Spokane Hosts the Largest 3-On-3 Basketball Tournament in the World
With more than 24,000 players from around the globe participating each year, Spokane's Hoopfest weekend is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. There's a fair shot for all hoopfesters to become champions, with teams being matched up by age, height, and experience levels to keep the competition leveled out for players.
This exciting weekend sees more than 200,000 attendees, and there is something fun awaiting even those who don't play ball. Live music and entertainment grace multiple stages across 40 blocks along the city boardwalk. Food vendors galore are on hand to satisfy any thirst or hunger. Attendees can shop at swag stores, where customized gear can be secured to keep the memories lasting a lifetime.
Since its establishment in 1990, Hoopfest has been giving back to the community in various ways to keep Spokane active and moving. In addition to constructing basketball courts and donating funds to charitable organizations, proceeds support local community youth sports and educational programs.
Spokane Boasts the Largest Urban Waterfall in the Country
Situated within Riverfront Park, Spokane Falls is located in the city's downtown business district. It encompasses Upper Spokane Falls, which is the second-largest US urban waterfall. When combined with Lower Spokane Falls beyond the park boundaries, it creates the largest type in the nation at 146 feet.
Each year, three million visitors head to the park to soak in the sights and sounds of the falls and other historic features like the Great Northern Clocktower and the Looff Carrousel. The Spokane Tribe routinely gathers at the falls for ceremonies and celebrations and holds the site to be sacred. In the past, the tribe would fish and hunt around the base of the falls in the Spokane River and Latah Creek, and they also camped there during winters.
It wasn't until 1908 that visions for transforming this former railyard into a park started arising, but it would be another 65 years until the dream became a reality. In the early 1970s, the old and active rails were removed to open up space for this urban renewal project. The '74 World's Fair was held here, and space was further expanded in 1978 to create what is known today as Riverfront Park, now considered one of the best parks in Spokane.
The City's Name Means "Children of the Sun"
The city's first inhabitants were Native Americans from the Spokane Tribe, whose name means "Children of the Sun." Initially, the region was dubbed Spokan Falls, until after its incorporation, when Falls was dropped, and an "e" was added. The earliest peoples inhabited a good portion of northeastern Washington, and the Spokane did most of their food growing, harvesting, and built settlements here.
They were semi-nomadic river people who tended to move per the seasons, finding prime spots along the Columbia and Spokane rivers and their various tributaries. Salmon, eel, and shellfish were their predominant diet in addition to meat from local wildlife. However, over time, many members of the Spokane tribe eventually settled onto an official reservation while the city's population grew with European settlers.
Much of the city was destroyed in a massive fire downtown in 1889, but the community rebuilt and restored the area. Many historic buildings remain today, and the Spokane Tribe still has a visible presence here, both artistically and culturally. Throughout the year, the tribe holds sacred ceremonies and festive events at Spokane Falls in Riverfront Park.
More Tidbits About Spokane
Just over 200,000 residents live in the city limits, and another 250,000 reside in the Spokane metro area. Nicknamed the Lilac City, flowers line the streets in spring and summer to create beautiful landscapes. In addition to having a remarkable reputation for amazing seasonal weather, Spokane has been named one of the best places to live in Washington by numerous publications. Come and see what the community has to offer on a visit, or check out homes on Spokane's waterfront and Spokane's condos and townhomes to enjoy these perks year-round.