Environmental History 
of the Spokane River


There are many physical reminders of Expo '74 and the impact it had on Spokane. The biggest and most obvious one is the existence of Riverfront Park. When putting the Expo together, the plan was to turn the fairgrounds into a public park once the Expo finished. That fairground became Riverfront Park, and you can still see the structure that hosted the U.S. Pavilion. In addition the Washington State Government built the Spokane Convention Center and the Spokane Opera House, now the INB Theater, for the Expo. They sold them to the City of Spokane for $1 once the fair was over, and so they remain there today.

In addition to the physical reminders of the Expo, Expo '74 also had a cultural impact on the city of Spokane. Before the fair, Spokane was fairly culturally homogenous. People of minority cultural backgrounds, often assimilated to the culture and were worried about expressing their cultural backgrounds. Expo '74 brought in people from various cultures and celebrated them, especially in the Folk Life exhibit. After the fair, Spokane became a more culturally welcoming place which we can see reflected now by its status as sanctuary city and a city with a growing refugee population.

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