Spokane (spōkănˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 177,196), seat of Spokane co., E Wash., at the spectacular falls of the Spokane River; inc. 1881. It is a port of entry and the commercial, transportation, and industrial center of a productive region known as the "Inland Empire," comprising E Washington, N Idaho, W Montana, NE Oregon, and S British Columbia. The irrigated farms of the Columbia basin project, which yield wheat, fruit, and other products, contribute to the city's prosperity. The area also has cattle ranches and dairy farms and mineral deposits (tungsten, clay, magnesium, uranium). Other products include building materials; electrical and electronic goods; transportation equipment; canvas, wood, metal, and concrete products; machinery; foods, processed meat, and beverages; chemicals; lumber; plastics; computers; paper; feeds; aluminum; and consumer goods. Nearby Fairchild Air Force Base contributes to the economy.
A trading fort was established there in 1810; settlement began in 1871. In 1889 a great fire destroyed most of the town, but it was rapidly rebuilt. Spokane is a focus of cultural and educational activities, with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Jundt Art Museum, and several parks. The city is the seat of Gonzaga Univ. and Whitworth College in nearby. Spokane is a gateway to two national forests, recreational areas, numerous lakes, and several nearby resorts.