Riverfront Park – Spokane’s Worlds Fair Heritage

Spokane, Washington.

Just last week, we finished our fall western trip. We traveled for almost 30 days visiting eleven states along the way. We planned the schedule in advance, noting the day’s travel time and the places we wanted to visit then hit the road with my wife, Lynn, and my niece, Pat, and her husband, Gary.

Of course, plans are meant to be changed, the fires in California forced us to bypass Sequoia and King’s Canyon parks, for example. A mechanical issue with the vehicle gave us an unscheduled stop at Spokane, Washington. With service unavailable until Monday, we had Sunday to explore the city. Noting that a fellow blogger, Terri Webster Schrandt, is now a resident of Washington state living near Spokane, I asked her for suggestions of places to visit in Spokane. We would not be disappointed in our choice of an excursion to Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. You can find Terri’s blogsite here.


The park is on the Spokane River which flows through downtown Spokane, and in 1974, newly constructed venues like the one in the opening photo played host to the 1974 World’s Fair. That pavilion with the open roof was one of three buildings constructed for the fair. In 1974, the roof was completely covered housing an 850-seat amphitheater.

Another attraction built for the World’s Fair that is still a big draw today is the Skyride that provides aerial views of Riverfront Park, downtown Spokane, and the falls on the Spokane River. In 2014, a major redevelopment of the park was overwhelmingly approved by the city’s voters, and the $64 million brought a new life to the park.

Lower Falls

The best view of the lower falls I have to share came from the vantage point of that Skyride. The project was to be completed in 2020, and from what we could tell, it is basically complete, though there are still areas in the park that have construction equipment in place. More views of the river and the falls are available on my Flickr site. Click on the image above to view the collection in HD.

Riverfront Park-4

Coincidentally, our visit happened during the weekend known as Fall Fest. Some special attractions included live performances in an outdoor theater and free horsedrawn wagon rides, among other things that vied for visitor attention.

Riverfront Park-6

On a warm October 3, kids enjoyed playing in the large fountain that provided an ever-changing cooling spray.

Riverfront Park-10

On Havermale Island, now part of Riverside Park, a large clock tower dominates the park. Originally built in 1902, the tower was part of the Great Northern Depot, the largest and finest depot west of Chicago. The depot itself was demolished to provide the space needed for the World’s Fair, but they left the clock tower. Once a week, someone climbs the tower to adjust and ensure the clocks display the correct time on each of the four clock faces.

Riverfront Park-8

In 1989, a reminder of simpler times added a play area to the park. The wagon stands over 12 feet (3.6m) tall and is made of concrete and steel. This larger-than-life attraction was built as part of a celebration for children.

Whether you planned a trip through Spokane, or like us, you found yourself there unexpectedly, be sure to take some time to visit Riverfront Park. There are several more images published on my Flickr site from our visit that day. You can get there and scroll through the HD images by clicking on any of the photos above. Alternatively, you can click here to view the album page.

John Steiner


  1. I am so tickled you enjoyed Riverfront Park, John. Gorgeous images, so well-captured! That would have been so cool to hang out with you for a blogger meet-up–next time! Thanks for the shout-out, too. Another neat spot is the 3-D sculpture of the runners that goes along part of the walking path near the mall. Glad you got to ride the skyride–haven’t done that yet. The river was low this time of year. I included a shot of what it looked like last May in the comments.

    • We didn’t see a lot of the city. We stayed near the airport which wasn’t that far from downtown and the park. We certainly didn’t notice any rundown areas in the parts of the city we drove through.

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