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About Spokane Washington
Spokane (pronounced spo-CAN [spo? 'kæn]) is a city located in Eastern Washington. The seat of Spokane County, Spokane is the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest, is the second largest city in Washington state, and the fourth largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The most recent state figures, released in July of 2006, show that the city's population has increased to about 198,000, while estimates show that nearly a half a million people reside in Spokane County (Spokane's official metropolitan area as recognized by the U.S. Census). The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho metropolitan area is not recognized as a part of the Spokane metropolitan area by mainly because it is on the other side of the Washington-Idaho state line, but the two areas are unified economically, and if combined, would account for a metro population of nearly 600,000 people.
The city is located along the Spokane River, where the river descends from the Selkirk Mountain range into the Columbia Plateau. It is less than 20 miles from the Washington-Idaho border and is located 280 mile (450 km) east of Seattle and 375 miles (600 km) northeast of Portland.
The city was settled in 1872  as "Spokan Falls" (without an 'e' at the end), drawing on the Native American tribe known as the Spokane, which means "Children of the Sun.”  The city's name is often mispronounced "Spo-cane", while the correct pronunciation is "spo-can". Spokane's official nickname is the 'Lilac City', named after the flowers that have flourished ever since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century.
In 1871 two squatters named James J. Downing and Seth Scranton built a small sawmill on a claim located near the south bank of the Spokane falls. James N. Glover and Jasper Matheney, two Oregonians who were passing through the region recognized the value of the Spokane river and its falls. In 1873 Glover purchased the sawmill and the claim from Downing. He later purchased some more property from Scranton on the north end of the falls. Glover eventually bought out his partner Matheney and opened Spokane's first bank. Glover was considered the founding father of Spokane and later became one of its first mayors as well.
Spokane Falls was a gathering place for the area's indigenous people due to the abundance of salmon in the Spokane River. Camp Spokane was established by the U.S. Army at a location 56 Miles Northwest of Spokane as a consolidation of the garrisons at Fort Colville, and Camp Chelan on October 21, 1880. The intent was to protect the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway, and to secure the location for U.S. settlement. By 1881, the Northern Pacific Railway was completed at this point, bringing European settlement. The city of Spokan Falls (without an 'e'; the 'e' was added in 1883) was officially incorporated on November 29, 1881. In 1891, the name was changed to Spokane . The President of the first City Council, was mill owner and Methodist minister Samuel G. Havermale.
The Great Fire
In the summer of 1889, a fire destroyed the city's downtown commercial district. Due to technical problems with a pump station, there was no water pressure in the city when the fire started. When volunteer fire fighters attempted to quench the flames, they found their hoses were unusable. Eventually winds died down and the fire exhausted of its own accord. 27 blocks of Spokane's downtown were destroyed.
Great Northern Railway
While the damage caused by the fire was a devastating blow, Spokane continued to grow. Just three years after the fire, in 1892, the Great Northern railroad reached Spokane and built a rail yard that made Spokane a transportation hub for the area. The first rail yard, built by James J. Hill, was completed in 1902. The clock tower currently in Riverfront Park was built as part of the depot and is one of the biggest in the Northwest, with each of its clock faces measuring 9 feet (2.7 m) across. The clock tower is the only part of the depot that remains standing to this day.
In 1883, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest; as a regional shipping center, the city furnished supplies to the miners who passed through on their way to mine in the Coeur dAlene as well as the Colville and Kootenay districts. By the mid-1890s, high mining operations were underway in the region. The area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Natural resources have traditionally provided much of the economic activity for the Spokane area, a major center for the timber, agriculture, and mining industries in the region.
Companies have located or relocated to the Spokane area, drawn by the easy access to raw materials and lower operating costs, such as cheap hydroelectric power. Finished wood products, metal refinery and fabrication, and food processing are among the leaders in manufacturing. Fortune 1000 company, Potlatch Corporation, which operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) and owns and manages timberlands located in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota, and Oregon, is headquartered in Spokane. The surrounding area, especially to the south, is a productive agricultural region known as the Palouse. A number of wineries and breweries also operate in the Spokane area.
Forestry and agribusiness continue to be important elements in the local economy, but Spokane's economy has diversified to encompass other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors. Signature Genomic Laboratories, a fast-growing genetics company, is headquartered in Spokane, and Itron, a producer of metering, data collection, and software products is headquartered in nearby Liberty Lake, Washington. Economic development in Spokane focuses on six industries: manufacturing, aerospace, health sciences, information technology, clean technology, and digital media. Spokane's downtown is the site of a 100-block wireless networkone of the largest of its kind in the country, which is seen as symbolic of its dedication to the development of technological opportunities and resources.
In 2000, the leading industries in Spokane for the employed population 16 years and older were educational services, health care, and social assistance, 23.8 percent, and retail trade, 12.7 percent. The health care industry is a large and increasingly important industry in Spokane; the city provides specialized care to many patients from the surrounding Inland Northwest and as far north as the Canadian border. Other industries include construction and mining, manufacturing, transportation, communication and networking utilities, finance, insurance, real estate, and government. Furthermore, all branches of the U.S. armed forces are represented in Spokane County. The largest military facility in the area is Fairchild Air Force Base. Sizable companies with locations in the Spokane region include Agilent, Cisco, F5 Networks, General Dynamics, Goodrich Corporation, Itron, Kaiser Aluminum, Telect, and Triumph Composite Systems.
As the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest as well as southern British Columbia and Alberta, Spokane serves as a commercial, manufacturing, transportation, medical, shopping, and entertainment hub. The city is also the hub for the service industries, and the wholesale and retail trade center of the 80,000 square miles (210,000 km2) Inland Northwest region. Due in part because Spokane is the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, and because it lies along the route to many regional attractions, tourism is on the rise in the area. Spokane can be a "base camp" for activities such as river rafting, camping, and other activities in the region.
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