Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Where is “Cliff Park”?

Closely related both in time and geography to the new Manito Park project was the development of Cliff Park (located directly above “The Hill”).  An October 17, 1903 Spokesman Review article stated:

Spokane is likely to have one of the finest scenic driveways in the country in the near future.  Negotiations are now pending for the vacation of a boulevard site on the edge of the great cliff which overhangs the southern part of the city.  The boulevard idea has been formulated in connection with the big park project developed recently for the picturesque area on top of the bluff.

For a half mile the edge of the cliff is nearly level, providing a site upon which a driveway could be graded without great expense.  Rugged formations of basaltic rock, the beauty of which can only be appreciated from close at hand, are piled fantastically, forming the precipitous cliff.

Scores of people visit the cliff daily in good weather, owing to the natural beauty of the immediate surrou9ndings and the wonderful view of the city, the valley and the mountains beyond.  With a fine driveway itself would make Spokane famous, as it would be ranked with the most picturesque in the world.


Manito and Cliff Park would be united by the proposed boulevard.  Manito Park is the 95 acres just donated to the city by the interest which are developing three new additions on the top of the cliff and adjacent to the new Graves street railway line.  There are 52 acres donated by the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company on behalf of Manito Park addition, 36 acres by the Washington Water Power company on behalf of the South Side Cable addition and seven acres by Frank Hogan on behalf of his own tract, contiguous to the other two.

The proposed cliff boulevard would pass through the big new park, and connect with Manito boulevard, the 175 foot driveway which has been laid out through Manito Park addition to the south.  The park itself, as well as the resident sections, always will be exceeding picturesque, owing to the rock formations, the pines and the verdure.

Cliff park is in the center of the old Cliff park addition, the property of the Northwest Improvement company, a subsidiary corporation of the Northern Pacific railway.  Cliff park has been platted around a huge rock that is the monarch of all the cliff region, towering from 75 to 100 feet above the uplands.  The great rock is nearly an acre in size and except to the most expert is now accessible only at one place.  Its precipitous sides in some places have the same fluted formation as the giant’s causeway on the coast of Ireland, while in others the crumbling black basalt has been interwoven with vines and covered with clinging moss.  The park which has been dedicated to the city consists of about seven acres, including the great rock.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spokane Discovers - "Free" Parks Are Expensive

Last week, in our continuing series on the founding of Manito Park, we learned of the gift of the 400 acre park to the city of Spokane and the conditions connected therewith from the donors.  Today, we continue the story and learn about the plans the city put in place to meet their obligations of the gift with respect to the water they were to provide for the park and the surrounding neighborhood. 

According to the book “Manito Park:  A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

A 50,000 gallon water tower was constructed at 14th and Grand, but it soon became evident that a larger capacity tower was needed.  In 1908 the first tower was replaced with the existing 200,000 gallon tower.  The streets were a more challenging matter.  In 1907 newspaper headlines read, “GREAT PARK IS IN DANGER, City’s Title to Beautiful Tract at Manito Has Not Been Protected – Much Money Spent – Conditions Not Fulfilled” and “CITY DID NOT KEEP PLEDGE – Will Donors Ask Forfeiture of Park?...”  The reality of what eh conditions were costing the city was now apparent.  Eventually waivers were filed in 1911 by the original donors relieving the city of the obligation to build 50-foot wide streets around the park. 

The following year, J. P. Graves offered another sizeable donation of land for a park, this time in Spokane’s north end.  It was also accompanied by a list of conditions.  On July 11, 1912, the park board politely declined Graves’s offer unless he would remove the contingencies.  Four days later, Graves withdrew his offer.  In spite of the related costs, Spokane is fortunate to have had individuals with the foresight and means to donate private land for its beautiful parks.   Aubrey L. White (discussed later) had a vision of a park within walking distance of every neighborhood and was instrumental in securing the land for many of Spokane’s parks.  In 1918 a Spokesman Review article boasted that Spokane “leads all other large cities in the United States in park acreage per each thousand population.”    However, one can conclude that in many cases, the donation of park land was not totally altruistic acts by the donors, who wished to enhance the value of their vast tracts of real estate.

Click over next week and we’ll hear about another of Spokane’s parks, Cliff Park.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Manito Park Got Its Name

For weeks now, we have been posting excerpts from the book “Manito Park:  A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com.  We have explored several of Spokane’s founding fathers who were instrumental in building the Spokane metropolis as well as getting many of the public areas donated and set up – ala Manito Park.  If you would like to read some of the back chapters, click over to www.ManitoPark.org or to www.manitoparkorg.blogspot.com and get caught up.

Today, we will explore how Manito Park actually got its name, and learn of a few more fun facts about the park itself.  Be sure to check out the progress we make each week on one of the links above.

Although the Panic of 1893, and the depression that followed, had temporarily halted further development of Montrose/Manito Park until the early 1900s, with the renewed effort to create a park for the city, the naming of Manito Park was reported on July 31, 1903.  The headline in the Spokane Daily Chronicle” read:


Large New Addition on the Southern Hill



The plat for the big addition which is to be put on the market by the Spokane-Washington Improvement company has been completed.  The addition, which is half a mile wide by a mile and a quarter long, has been named Manita [the spelling used in this article appears to have been a misprint and an isolated incident] Park, referring to its elevation, which affords a fine view of the city.  It is composed of 56 blocks of land…The addition is on the route of the line of the Spokane Traction company, the new street car system being installed by Jay P. Graves.  In fact the car line will run through nearly the entire center of the tract.  It is bounded on the north by Fourteenth avenue, on the south by Thirty-third avenue, on the east by Hatch street and on the west by Division street.  In all it contains 400 acres of land, 320 of which is in the city limits.  The remaining 80 acres is south of the city limits… The two drives through the addition will be Grand street and the boulevard [refers to Manito Boulevard], running parallel with each other north and south, or lengthwise through the tract.  Grand street is being graded 75 feet in width and will have a double car track for the new Graves system.  The boulevard will be 175 feet in width, with a 77 foot parking strip in the center, while on either side will be parking strips.



During the spring of 1904, Manito Park was officially deeded to the city by the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company and Spokane & Montrose Motor Railroad Co (Jay Graves’s companies), Washington Water Power, the Northwestern and Pacific Hypotheekbank, and Frank Hogan.  This gift came with specific conditions, which were outlined in the deeds.  They are condensed as follows:

1.       The donated park property must be used forever for the sole purpose of a public park.

2.       The donation is made subject to the city paying the 1903 taxes.

3.       The city shall construct a first class driveway, of not less than 50 feet in width.  This drive will service the entire area in the vicinity of the park and is to be completed by January 1, 1905.  The city is required to forever maintain this roadway.

4.       The city shall lay a ten-inch water main to the junction of Division Street and Fourteenth Avenue prior to November 1, 1905.  They must forever keep this water main filled with water.

5.       The city shall extend an eight-inch feeder line from the ten-inch main to other sections of the Manito Addition.  They must forever keep this line filled with water.

6.       Since the city will need a water reservoir to fulfill the conditions of providing water for the building sites around the park, the grantors also provide permission for the city to locate, construct and maintain a water reservoir on this newly-gifted park property.

7.       If the city fails to meet these conditions, the property will revert back to the granters.

An interesting point – considering the costs involved in the installation of roads, water sources and sewer lines – was the lack of publicity regarding the city’s future financial obligation in the acceptance of this land.  A number of private-interest groups, such as these Manito Park benefactors, had great influence on the local politicians and media, a practice common throughout Spokane involving many of the early parks.  Today, this conflict of interest would likely receive much public criticism and challenge.  However, at the time, it was key to the development of the parks and their surrounding neighborhoods.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Motorized Trip to Manito Park

One of the earliest defining events relating to the development of the Manito plateau occurred on Friday, November 16, 1888.  The historical narrative of the first motorized trip to the top of the plateau was published in the Morning Review the next day.  It read as follows:
Public Gratification at its Early Completion.
Comments on the Magnificent Suburban Property.
The Trial Trip Yesterday – a Full Description of the Comfortable Jaunt – In Perspective.
“All aboard!”  shouted Conductor Peebles yesterday, and as the guests stepped on the car, the engine gave a tug and the long-delayed trial trip on the motor line was fairly under way.
For several weeks the streetcar line has been waiting for the Northern Pacific’s permission to tunnel under the tracks at the Washington street crossing.  At last, however, the owner of the city road, Mr. Cook, decided to operate his line at once as far as it was already completed.  He issued a number of invitations for the trip and among those who accepted them were:  Mayor Hoover and wife, Councilman Waters, Johnson and Fortheringham [Fotheringham], J.J. White, city clerk, Chief Warren, City Attorney Houghton, and the representatives of the press.
The heavy haul of so many passengers up the steep grade along the four blocks on Washington street severely tested the power of the motor;  but after a sharp struggle she mounted the hill and turned to face to the East.  The engine that drew the first car over the line was a very-powerful one of forty-horse power with six drive wheels, which are good at holding or propelling.  The line runs from there to Stevens street, and after winding in and out for some distance, enters a deep rock cut about 200 feet long.  Emerging from this cut the road traverses the side of a high bluff, from which is a grand view of the city is obtainable.
At the Central school [predecessor to Lewis & Clark H.S.], the eye plainly discerns the far off suburbs of the North Side.  From Ross Park to the falls; from the “Hill” to the fairgrounds [now Corbin Park] four miles away, nothing save the foliage of the evergreen pines and cedars, interrupt the view of the thriving and picturesque city of Spokane Falls.  The passengers were all charmed with the view and said that no stranger that wanted to see Spokane in its beauty should fail to ride to the end of the motor line.
Ascending another grade we reached the switchback and mounted the summit of the hill [the site of the present Cathedral of St. John].  From there the road continues on for one mile through Montrose Park and other additions to our city.  The land there is a level prairie with the best of soil instead of the gravel upon which the city proper is built, and the residences property in that neighborhood will now become quite as attractive as that in any other part of our town.
When the end of the line was reached the guests stepped out of the car and were engaged for some time looking at the scenery; and they would have probably kept on gazing until nightfall if the whistle had not warned them to get aboard for the return trip, which was made in very quick time.
As they stepped off the car at Second street the passengers with one accord thanked Mr. Cook for his courtesy and the ride, and sauntered to their respective homes.
The crew of the train were:  Conductor, Chad Peebles, engineer, Frank Goodrich, fireman, John Krick.  The regular schedule will be in operation tomorrow.  The line will be run with a transfer at the Washington street crossing to one of the company’s cars which will be pulled by horses to the Front street end of the road.  [The Washington Street viaduct, was not completed when the streetcar began operating].
Tune in next week to hear the next chapter about when the boundaries of Manito Park were defined.