A River Runs Through It
Bridges of Downtown Spokane
Straddling the powerful and majestic Spokane River, Downtown Spokane is home to several architecturally impressive bridges. These spans give Spokane much of its unique charm and contribute to Downtown's status as one of the most beautiful urban centers in the nation.
Monroe Street Bridge
Spokane's best known span is the 896 foot Monroe Street Bridge, finished in 1911 and reopened following a reconstruction in 2005. The deck arch bridge was the largest concrete structure in the United States at the time, and one of the longest concrete bridges in the world.
While the current version of the bridge is well known even outside Spokane, it is less well known that it is actually the third bridge to cross the Spokane at this location. A rather unstable wooden bridge first built in 1889 burned down the following year, and was replaced by a steel span. The steel bridge suffered vibration problems and was declared unsafe in 1905 but remained in use until work started on the new bridge in 1910.
Above:Move your mouse over this picture to reveal the steel Monroe Street Bridge of more than a century ago.
The new bridge has remained a crown jewel of Downtown Spokane, but began showing significant wear and deterioration by the turn of the 21st Century. The bridge was closed from 2003-05 while it was completely disassembled and replaced with an exact replica. The "new" bridge retains the early century aesthetic of the iconic span while providing a safe, reliable crossing of the river for decades to come.
For unrivaled views of Spokane's famous falls, the Monroe Street Bridge cannot be beat. Consider a walk across the pedestrian-friendly bridge or a trip on the SkyRide, an aerial tram that passes under the bridge after loading passengers upriver at Riverfront Park.
Maple Street Bridge
Carrying traffic from Downtown to Northwest Spokane over the Peaceful Valley neighborhood and Spokane River, the Maple Street Bridge is a 1708 foot steel span that first opened for traffic in 1958. Originally opened as a toll bridge, the fee was lifted in 1990.
Traveling across the Maple Street Bridge gives motorists and pedestrians unrivaled views of western Downtown, as well as the Monroe Street Bridge and falls to the east.
Post Street Bridge
Offering a unique view of the Monroe Street Bridge to the west and the upper falls to the east is the Post Street Bridge. The 333 foot span was built in 1917 and refitted in the 1930s. While much shorter and not as widely traversed as other bridges, the Post Street Bridge is worth crossing for those looking for great views of the Spokane River as it passes through Downtown.
Above:This is a view of the Post Street bridge taken from the Monroe Street Bridge during the spring runoff.
Downtown Spokane also features a number of pedestrian and bicycle-only bridges, many centered around Riverfront Park which occupies the grounds of the 1974 World's Fair, also known as Expo '74. The Howard street bridge crosses just east of the upper falls, and was featured in the 1998 film Smoke Signals.
written by:John Spracklen