Spokane (pronounced [spoʊ̯ˈkæn]) 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 US Census figures, released in July of 2006, show that the city's population has increased to about 198,000, while recent state figures put the city's population over 202,000. Estimates show 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 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.
Downtown Spokane as seen from Palisades Park looking east.
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 miles (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.
As of the 2006 censusGR2 estimates, there were 198,081 people, 81,512 households, and 47,276 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,387.0 people per square mile (1,307.7/km²). There were 87,941 housing units at an average density of 1,522.6 per square mile (587.8/km²).
The most recent ethnic percentages as of 2005  are 88.9% White, 4.4% Multiracial, 3.5% Hispanic, 2.5% Asian, 2.0% African American, 1.5% Native American, 0.6% from other races 0.2% Pacific Islander. 20.7% were of German, 10.8% Irish, 9.6% English, 6.8% United States or American and 5.8% Norwegian ancestry according to Census 2000. Ukrainian, Russian and other eastern European immigrants make up around 4% of the White population.
There were 81,512 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.3% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.0% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,273, and the median income for a family was $41,316. Males had a median income of $31,676 versus $24,833 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,451. 15.9% of the population and 11.1% of families were below the poverty line. 19.3% of those under the age of 18 and 9.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Since February 2005 the population has seen a rapid increase, which can be attributed to the decrease in the average cost of living and and increase in the job market. Spokane was #49 on the Men's Journal 2005 "50 Best Places to Live" list,, #5 on the Forbes Magazine 2005 "Safest Places to Live" list, and #35 on the Inc. Magazine 2005 "Top US Cities for Doing Business" list.
Colleges and universities
Parks and recreation
In 1907, Spokane's board of park commissioners retained the services of the Olmsted Brothers to draw up a plan for Spokane parks. Today, Spokane has a system of over 75 parks totaling 3,500 acres, with parks ranging in size from the quarter-acre Skeet-So-Mish Park playground to the 464-acre Palisades Park conservation area. Some of the parks in Spokane’s extensive park system are listed below:
- Riverfront Park, created after Expo '74 and occupying the same site, is one hundred acres in downtown Spokane and the site of some of Spokane's largest events. The park has views of the Spokane Falls, and holds a number of civic attractions, including the Skyride (a recently rebuilt gondola that carries visitors across the falls from high above the river gorge), the 5-story IMAX theater, and numerous rides and concessions. Various festivals are held in the park throughout the year. A new "Great Gorge Park," originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers, is being proposed as an extension of Riverfront Park along the deep river gorge through the Peaceful Valley neighborhood.
View of the Duncan Garden at Manito Park.
- Riverside State Park is close to downtown and is a site for hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and also has scenic views.
- The Centennial Trail has over thirty-seven miles of paved trails running along the Spokane River and across the metropolitan area for running, walking, bicycling or inline skating. Informational signs and parking are provided along the trail, which runs from west of Spokane into Idaho.
- Highbridge Park and People's Park: These two parks are located in Peaceful Valley, where it meets Hangman creek.
- Downriver Park, near Riverside State Park and Downriver Golf Course, has a championship 21-hole disc golf course adjoining the Spokane River. Another 18-hole disc golf course can be found in High Bridge Park, near downtown.
- City-owned golf courses include: The Creek at Qualchan, Indian Canyon, Esmerelda, Downriver, and Hangman golf courses. In addition, the Spokane Country Club and Manito Country Club offer private memberships to their own courses. Spokane County also runs a number of public courses
- In the summer Spokane residents may visit Lake Coeur d'Alene, Priest Lake, Lake Pend Oreille, or one of the other nearby bodies of water. The Spokane area has 76 lakes and numerous rivers, where various water sports, fishing, camping, and rafting take place.
- In the winter, Spokane residents have access to five ski resorts within a few hours of the city. A non-profit organization operates nearby Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park. Mt. Spokane also has trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding. During the non-winter months, hikers and mountain bikers use the trails.
Events and activities
Spokane is home to a number of annual events and attractions that draw people from a large surrounding area:
- The Lilac Bloomsday Run, a 7.46 mile race for walkers and competitive runners, is the largest timed road race in the world, typically drawing about 45,000 participants. It is held on the first Sunday of each May.
- Hoopfest is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. It is held the last weekend in June, and has a variety of participants, from kids, teens, and adults to former college and NBA players, in their respective brackets. Started in 1989 with just 300+ teams, the event now annually averages more than 25,000 participants or around 6,000 3-man teams.
- Each April, Japan Week celebrates the sister-city relationship with Nishinomiya, Hyogo, demonstrating the many commonalities shared between the two cities. Students from the Spokane campus of Mukogawa Institute, Whitworth College, Gonzaga University, Spokane Falls and Spokane Community College organize an array of Japanese cultural events, in addition to a number of others that take place around the city.
- Pig-Out In The Park is an annual summer festival celebrating the joy of food. Local restaurants set up booths all around Riverfront Park. Visitors can browse for food and listen to local bands perform. It is traditionally held over Labor Day weekend in early September.
- Tour Des Lacs is a two-day benefit bike ride that takes place in September. The route takes riders from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene and back, and includes short route options along the Centennial Trail. Routes vary in length from 80 to almost 200 miles and include breakfast, dinner, and food stops.
- Spokane is also home to a National Historic Landmark hand-carved carousel, created in 1909 by Charles I. D. Looff as a wedding present for his daughter. The carousel still operates in Riverfront Park, downtown, where riders can participate in an old-time ring toss. The carousel continues to offer a free ride to the rider who grabs the brass ring.
- The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture houses a large collection of Native American artifacts as well as regional and national traveling art exhibits. Located in Browne's Addition amid the mansions of Spokane's late 19th-century golden age, the Museum is in a secluded setting a few blocks from the center of downtown.
- The Spokane Folklore Society hosts its annual Fall Folk Festival the first full weekend of November at the Spokane Community College.
- Mobius is a science center and children's museum.
- Gay Pride is the Inland Northwest's largest Gay & Lesbian celebration held every June.
- The Northwest Renaissance Festival is a renaissance festival north of Spokane that began in 1995. The festival's 13th Season will be open every weekend from June 23 to July 15, 2007 11am to 7pm.
- Travelling the scenic [| Hiawatha Trail] just 56 miles east of the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area is a popular destination for cycling.