Spokane's reputation is that of a great place to raise a family. There are a lot of classic neighborhoods to grow up in, like the historic Corbin Park neighborhood or the well-shaded Manito Park area. I myself was raised in the Altamont neighborhood off South Perry, where I fondly remember jumping into stacks of pine needles or sledding into oncoming traffic.
But what about 25-year-olds like me who don't plan on raising any Jake Jr.'s for a long, long time? Are there neighborhoods in Spokane that cater to young people wary of living in a Norman Rockwell painting?
I asked people my age what they thought makes a neighborhood cool. The general response was a place with "stuff to do." Implied in this answer is the desire for a neighborhood that inspires them "to do stuff." From this idea, I created some criteria for my search.
Obviously, the neighborhood must contain basic necessities like a supermarket, places to hang out and talk, eating and drinking establishments, a park and so on. Second, the availability of such locations within walking distance. Unless there is a Steven Seagal marathon on TNT, walking four blocks to the store is always better than driving. Sidewalks used for more than a clear path between your couch and car are essential for a setting that feels alive. The final two criteria were availability of living places and a relative proximity to downtown.
The first neighborhood was such a no-brainer I almost considered skipping it. After hanging out there for an afternoon, though, I couldn't help but sing the praises of Browne's Addition. This is the Berkeley, Silver Lake and Capitol Hill of Spokane. How great is it to live within a five-minute walk of an art museum, train-car diner, a park with a gazebo, coffee shop, pub-style restaurant, supermarket and groups of people your own age walking to and fro?
Some people talk about the crime in Browne's Addition, but unless you've just left Ryan, Marissa and the rest of The O.C. behind, or are simply unlucky, you'll recognize the people and places that warrant distance. Besides, until it becomes dangerous to wear certain colors, a little shadiness adds some edge to a neighborhood, like a name tattooed in cursive on your neck.
The second neighborhood catering to cool young people like me (oh, and you too) is the lower South Hill/Cannon's Addition. (I'm going to call the Lower South Hill 'SoLo' because it sounds cooler.) This neighborhood appeals to those wizened, genteel folk looking for a more laid-back environment than Browne's, but with the same opportunity to lounge on your front lawn and talk to people walking by.
SoLo/Cannon's offers the choice of older-styled apartments or houses to rent at reasonable prices. I know several people who are renting hardwood-floored houses with one or maybe two other roommates, and not having to work all eight days of the week to pay the rent. There are two supermarkets, a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant that both serve beer, a bakery, a music store and a few other businesses scattered among the tree-lined streets. There is also the inexplicable joy of living on a hill, a probable remnant of your Homo sapiens instincts guarding you from dinosaurs and meth labs.
The final spot for twentysomethings to live is the Logan neighborhood around Gonzaga. I don't know why this place has always seemed closed off to non-students -- maybe it was the fear that the Kennel Club would beat you up if you couldn't recognize Blake Stepp in the dark. But it's time to move beyond that, because this neighborhood has a lot to offer.
Parking my car at David's Pizza, I walked north on Hamilton four or five blocks and counted at least six restaurants, a coffee shop -- I know, it's a Starbucks -- two markets, a gas station, a vintage clothing store, three bars, a salon and Mission Park two blocks east. Like Browne's Addition, the neighborhood is full of young people walking around, hanging out on porches and throwing Frisbees at my car.
With the expansion of Jack and Dan's and the Bulldog's procurement of a liquor license, Gonzaga acts as the anchor to a future University District: old houses with turrets rented whole or as apartments; art, film, theater, music, books; sugar-mamas and sugar-daddies; two-day-old kegs; and everything else a university environment offers. Besides, the Gonzaga/Logan neighborhood is a great place for people who seek a lively atmosphere at twice the weekend volume of Browne's or SoLo.
If I had the money to move out of Jake's Parents' Basement Addition, I would look in one of these three neighborhoods.
In two weeks, I'll look at downtown Spokane and see what it has to offer people in their twenties. Also, at firstname.lastname@example.org, please send in your own opinions and comments relating to the topics I write about, or anything answering the question about what there is in Spokane to keep someone in their twenties here. I hope to start including some of these comments in my articles, presenting a few more "Takes" than just mine. Savvy?
Publication date: 04/15/04