Spokane (pronounced [spoÊËkÃ¦n] ( listen) or spoh-KAN) is a city in northeastern Washington. It is the largest city of Spokane County of which it is also the county seat, and the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from the WashingtonâIdaho border, and 232 miles (373 km) east of Seattle.
David Thompson explored the Spokane area and began European settlement with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company's Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington and the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. In the late 19th century, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The Spokane area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Spokane's economy has traditionally been based on natural resources, being a center for mining, timber, and agriculture; however, the city's economy has diversified to include other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors. Spokane is known as the birthplace of Father's Day, hosted the first environmentally themed World's Fair, Expo '74, and is home to Gonzaga University and Whitworth University.
The city of Spokane (then known as "Spokan Falls") was settled in 1871 and officially incorporated as a city in 1881. The city's name is drawn from the Native American tribe known as the Spokane, which means "Children of the Sun" in Salishan. Spokane's official nickname is the "Lilac City", named after the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century. Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought major settlement to the Spokane area.