Bloomsday, Spokane's annual 12k run, is this Sunday. About 40,000 close friends will converge on Spokane to race on a beautiful course that will include such Spokane wonders as Riverfront Park, views of the falls, the Peaceful Valley neighborhood, and Riverside State Park. And along the way they will pass a lot of important historical sites.
If you are one of the thousands of people who walks the route instead of running, I have a suggestion. Take your smartphone, download the Spokane Historical Smartphone app, and turn your water breaks into learning opportunities. Better yet, abandon the race and just explore the history of Spokane. Here is some of what you will discover:
Starting Line: You and your 40,000 friends are going to spend a while waiting for the race to begin, and fortunately Riverside is one of Spokane's more historic streets. Take a few minutes with Spokane Historical to learn about the Great Spokane Fire of 1889 and landmarks like the Davenport Hotel and the Great Western Building.
Mile 1: Still on Riverside Avenue, you are now skirting the edge of the historic Browne's Addition neighborhood. Look up at the MAC (the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture for you out-of-towners). Consider dropping out of the race in favor of a more genteel walking tour of Browne's Addition. Or stop at the Elk for a Bloody Mary. You don't have to run.
Mile 2: Having ignored my suggestion to drop out a mile back, you are now puffing up a hill above People's Park--which served as a special campground for hippies and the like during Expo 74. This was the only time that hippies were welcome in Spokane.
Mile 3: Now you are running past Greenwood Cemetery, a classic Victorian burial ground. Get off the rat race and explore this magical place with Spokane Historical. Learn about Spokane Garry, Spokane's Civil War Veterans, Mary Latham, and the mysterious hidden tunnel.
Mile 4: To your left is Fort George Wright. This historic site was home to black soldiers, and a totem pole. In 1911 Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech here--listen to a recording.
Mile 5: As you huff up Doomsday Hill, look out to where Natatorium Park used to be. Don't you wish you were there now?
Mile 6: The West Central neighborhood is Spokane's poorest neighborhood, but also the site of some spectacular mansions such as the Glover House and the Richardson House.
Mile 7: It is never too late to quit! Check out the historic Spokane Courthouse. Or continue across the iconic Monroe Street Bridge. Learn what the falls meant to the Spokane Indians and read Sherman Alexie's wonder poem and art project That Place Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump.
Did you finish the race? Very well then--but spend some time walking around the downtown with Spokane Historical. We have over 250 Spokane stories online and on your smartphone!