Spokane began as a trading post and didn’t really become a town until the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881. The town grew rapidly once the railroad was established, as it became a natural shipping hub for agricultural and mining products produced in the surrounding area. Spokane then continued to grow steadily throughout the nineteenth century until mining slowly died out and was replaced by a growing economic reliance on both agriculture and logging. Intermittent national and regional economic slumps throughout the twentieth century stalled the city’s growth and ate away at its central area. But, a renewed interest building a diversified city economy, combined with a push to put Spokane on the international stage as a environmental leader, brought the World’s Fair to the city, and a period of urban renewal to Spokane’s core. The city’s contemporary economy is based on educational services, social assistance and health care, accommodation food services, the arts, entertainment, and recreation, and retail trade. Spokane serves as a commercial and business center for the entire Inland Northwest region, including parts of Southern British Columbia. The metropolitan area is also home to a U.S. Air Force Base, several colleges and universities, and several minor league professional sports teams.
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