A few years ago Spokane, Washington, became the smallest city ever to host a world's fair. The fair was dedicated to the theme of environmentalism and was itself an environmental triumph. The heart of the fair was on two islands in the Spokane River beside the thundering falls at the core of downtown Spokane.
When James Glover, the "Father of Spokane," first settled near this site in 1873, the setting was one of the most beautiful in the West. Over the years, the early settlers surrounded the falls with saw mills, flour mills, bridges, railway depots, warehouses, and other urban "improvements." In the process, they built a city but lost track of their river. Many Spokanites would later admit, "We'd forgotten it was there."
During the 1950s and 1960s Spokane suffered from the urban blight common to many American cities at the time. In order to restore the downtown, Spokanites considered a number of plans and eventually decided to host a world's fair -- a gigantic task for a small city. The fairgrounds were built, exhibitors and tourists came to Spokane from throughout the world, and the blighted region by the falls was transformed into a magnificent park.
This autumn, 1996, the Eastern Washington University Press will publish a history of these events. The Fair and the Falls will be the most thorough account of any American exposition since World War II. The author, prize-winning historian J. William T. Youngs, and his student assistants conducted hundreds of interviews and read thousands of documents to prepare the text.
The Fair and the Falls is a narrative history of a place, Spokane Falls, and an event, Expo '74. During the final months before the release of the book, this web site will provide information about the book and its characters. To learn more go to the table of contents.