Pin It
Favorite

Old Times Again 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & The city is currently taking suggestions for a time capsule, which they'll bury somewhere in the vicinity of the Monroe Street Bridge. That will be great for Spokane's future sentimentalists. For those of us still in 2005, though, the bridge reopening has already unearthed a much larger and more culturally significant time capsule: North Monroe Street.


Between the bridge and the hill is an oddball neighborhood that has managed to keep a sense of individuality and community amid the new-millennium pressure of chain retailers and big business. The street has a blithely ageless small-town feel, as if you've accidentally driven off a major Spokane thoroughfare and into 1950s-era community planning. Everything here (except for the McDonalds) reeks of local-ownership. The architecture is quirky and varied, looking nothing like the concrete-block sameness we see throughout most of the rest of America. There are even a few attorneys' offices and funeral parlors that could pass for town halls and chambers of commerce. You just don't see this kind of thing anymore.


Yeah, there's a Skipper's, but it's the last of the old kind -- the ones that looked more like crab boats than buildings and had signs made out of anchors. Just down the street, Azar's sign has what looks like a technical drawing of a massive hunk of lamb, roasting vertically on a spit. Now that I think about it, really, it's the signage, more than anything, that makes North Monroe stand out. The signs are all old and uniquely shaped, revealing something about their businesses and owners. Barber shop signs are shaped like scissors. Crescent Machine Shop has crescent-shaped cogs and machinery. The signs of bail bondsmen are adorned with pictures of their leaders.


At most other places, marquee signs bear a business's daily specials or details of some promotional event. On North Monroe, they offer parables at Golden Rule Brake and populist rancor at Tunetech.


Each sign has a different feel, but they're all wonderfully contrarian, as if the entire street were thumbing its nose at corporate culture, expressing its discontent with faceless bureaucracy or just reveling in its kitsch. Of course, the bridge had been closed for nearly three years, during which time traffic was rerouted and the area took a big hit. A few places had to close because of the lost revenue. Maybe everyone has crank signs because they can't afford new ones.


You should ponder the whys and wherefores next time you're driving north on the newly refurbished bridge and admiring the eccentricities of the place. Then get your head out of the clouds and buy something, for God's sake -- these people have businesses to run.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Their Best Interest
  • In Their Best Interest

    Why many neglected kids don't have legal representation for critical decisions that could dictate their future
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • 'Right Side of History'
  • 'Right Side of History'

    The Washington Supreme Court rules against Arlene's Flowers; plus, two dogs call it a day
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Frozen Out
  • Frozen Out

    In the middle of a chaotic winter, the city of Spokane ousted its veteran street director, but won't give an explanation to the city council
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • A Loner's Legacy
  • A Loner's Legacy

    What a homeless veteran in Coeur d'Alene left behind after his sudden death
    • Oct 22, 2015
  • Extraordinary Ordination
  • Extraordinary Ordination

    Meet the first woman to be ordained as an Ecumenical Catholic priest in Spokane
    • Nov 19, 2015

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Extraordinary Ordination
  • Extraordinary Ordination

    Meet the first woman to be ordained as an Ecumenical Catholic priest in Spokane
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • From Prison to Olympia
  • From Prison to Olympia

    A group of released felons head to Olympia with a mission — persuade "tough on crime" Sen. Mike Padden to support reform
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation