Fun Facts About Spokane

Spokane, WA, is rich in history, natural beauty, and unique attractions. Beyond its well-known features, there are plenty of fascinating and fun facts that make Spokane a great place to explore. From being the birthplace of Father’s Day to hosting the world’s largest 3-on-3 outdoor basketball tournament, Hoopfest, Spokane has a trove of intriguing stories and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  

1. Spokane derives its name from the Spokane Tribe, an indigenous community that has inhabited the region for centuries. The word “Spokane” comes from the Salish language spoken by the tribe and means “Children of the Sun” or “Sun People.” 

2. Spokane's nickname is the Lilac City. The origin of this nickname can be traced back to the early 20th century when the Spokane Garden Expo showcased an abundance of lilac blooms. Inspired by the sight and aroma of the flowers, locals embraced the nickname “Lilac City” as a symbol of civic pride. Since then, Spokane has continued cultivating its reputation as a city of lilacs, hosting an annual Lilac Festival and Parade, where the community celebrates the blossoming of these vibrant flowers. 

3. Spokane is the birthplace of Father’s Day. Father’s Day was first proposed by Sonora Smart Dodd, a Spokane native, in 1909. Inspired by the newly established Mother’s Day, Sonora sought to honor and recognize the significant role that fathers play in their children’s lives. With the support of local organizations and community leaders, Spokane celebrated the first official Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. The event gained popularity and gradually spread across the country, eventually becoming a nationally recognized holiday in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed it into law. 

4. Spokane is widely recognized as the home of Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 outdoor basketball tournament in the world. Every year, the streets of downtown Spokane are transformed into a basketball mecca as thousands of teams gather to participate. Hoopfest attracts players of all ages and skill levels, from amateurs to seasoned veterans. With over 450 courts spread across several city blocks, the tournament spans an impressive distance and showcases the love and passion for basketball that permeates the Spokane community. 

5. Spokane is home to Gonzaga University, known for its academic excellence and basketball program. Founded in 1887 by Father Joseph Cataldo, an Italian-born Jesuit priest, the university offers various undergraduate and graduate programs. The campus is characterized by its beautiful architecture, blending historic buildings with modern facilities. Gonzaga University’s athletic program, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, has gained prominence in NCAA Division I sports, particularly basketball, where the team has consistently achieved national rankings and made numerous appearances in the NCAA tournament. Go Zags!

6. Spokane Falls is one of the largest urban waterfalls in the United States. The Spokane River forms the falls as it cascades through large basalt rock formations. The main drop, known as the Upper Falls, measures around 100 feet in height and spans a width of over 500 feet. 

7. Spokane is the home of American Singer, Bing Crosby. Born as Harry Lillis Crosby Jr. in Tacoma, Washington, Crosby grew up in Spokane, where he discovered his passion for music and entertainment. Rising to international stardom, Crosby became one of the most iconic and influential entertainers of the 20th century, with a career that spanned over six decades. Renowned for his smooth baritone voice and charismatic stage presence, Crosby succeeded as a singer, actor, and radio personality. He recorded numerous hit songs, including the timeless holiday classic “White Christmas,” which remains one of the best-selling singles ever. 

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