I spent last week in Spokane, Washington and was thrilled by the abundance of Ghost Signs and Pavement Markers (mostly Sidewalk Contractor Stamps), two features I love to admire in cities. Both advertise the history of their surroundings and symbolize investment and Pride. The city also has some wonderful architecture, but like St. Louis its built environment has been scarred by demolitions. Unlike St. Louis however, Spokane’s Urban Riverfront Park actually links the two sides of the city together instead of existing by itself as an island like our Arch grounds (even though part of Spokane’s park is in fact an island). People who visit downtown Spokane can easily walk across Spokane Falls Blvd and be in some part of the park’s southern boarder. See CitytoRiver.org for how we can fix the problem with our Urban Park by reconnecting it to Downtown.
Being able to travel freely back and forth between the well preserved downtown street grid and the park allows businesses alongside the park to flourish. Although a big chunk of the land opposite Riverfront Park is surface parking (a problem their city is trying to fix), buildings with their backs to the park still share its success.
Spokane cares about its city park and its city streets. Concrete Contractors like WM Winkler and Cameron-Riley have been taking pride in their work for as long as they have been in business, and stamping the sidewalks they pour.
Seeing the excellent state of this 70+ year old concrete is wonderful. Like a work of art, the sidewalk is signed by it’s creator. I even found one Brass Sidewalk Marker.
A.K. Copson also stamped the adjacent squares of sidewalk with a similar logo. The competition is everywhere.
In addition to these great pavement markers, Spokane has a wonderful collection of Ghost Signs, with a nice concentration downtown.
Along the railroad tracks one building proclaims itself as “Home of Snowflake Saltines” and as both the Washington Cracker Company and Nabisco. I could not help but laugh at the advertisement for Snowflake Crackers in a city that is 92 percent white.
Although choosing one was not easy in this haven for Ghost-Sign-spotters, my personal favorite was a advertisement for the most delicious brand of “pop:” Squirt. I found it hidden behind trees and bushes on a small building that currently houses a boot store.
Spokane is a very cool city well worth a visit. They set a good example of how a city should embrace its river and parks. For more photos of Spokane and its Sidewalk Stamps and Ghost Signs see my flickr photo set from the trip.