The new boomtown isn't just for Zags anymore
Spokane, 34 miles west of Coeur d’Alene, is the metropolis of the region, although at 229,000 residents, it’s only the 102nd-largest city in the country. But, unlike many larger Sunbelt municipalities, such as Mesa, Arizona (now with 548,000 people), it’s a real city with fine Robber Baron era architecture from its first boom in 1890–1912. . . .
Since the Black Lives Matter/Antifa crazes hit Minneapolis, Portland, and to a lesser extent Seattle (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) in 2020–2021, while the work-from-home trend made employees of Seattle’s corporations with what Neal Stephenson called “world-conquering business plans” (such as Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Costco) reassess their expensive housing costs, Spokane has been in fashion, in part because it has an old-fashioned urban core full of white people.
I’m reminded of Pittsburgh’s moment a decade ago when urban hipsters without trust funds, finding themselves priced out of Brooklyn, turned their attention to the Steel City with its first-rate skyline, surprising natural scenery, and white urban majority. (Similarly, “The Dream of the 1890s Is Alive in Portland.”)
Granted, Spokane’s buildings don’t compare in scale to Pittsburgh’s, but then again, Spokane’s central city has terrifying waterfalls. . . .
Its best college is the solid Jesuit school Gonzaga, whose striking success in basketball since local boy John Stockton’s career in the 1980s has brought a bit of glamor. Without local top (i.e., black) talent, Gonzaga specialized in recruiting players who would need to hone their skills over all four years in college to have the slightest chance at the NBA.
Back before the Great Awokening, the media devoted much attention to the early-2000s downtown Stuff White People Like craft food lifestyle. The idea that an American without a college degree who liked city living could get by working as a chef or a bartender in an ambitious locavore gastropub was appealing.
But all good things in modern America must come to an end. Housing costs are now soaring in Spokane.