In 1881, the Northern Pacific Railway was completed, bringing major European settlement to the area. The city of Spokane Falls was officially incorporated as a city of about 1,000 residents on November 29, 1881, but the population ballooned as the railroad lured settlers from as far away as Finland, Germany, and England and as close as Minnesota and the Dakotas. By 1910, the population had hit 104,000, allowing Spokane to eclipse Walla Walla as the commercial center of the Inland Northwest.
Brock Nelson (left), public affiars director - Washington and Oregon, and Spokane Mayor, Dave Condon, with Spokane's new Train Town sigh.
The Great Fire of August 4, 1889, was a devastating blow to Spokane, but the addition of the Union Pacific railroad resulted in another population boom, aiding recovery. The railroads in Spokane made it a permanent transportation hub for the Inland Northwest region. Spokane became an important rail and shipping center because of its location between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range and between mining (particularly Idaho's Silver Valley) and farming areas.
With the arrival of later additions to the city's railroad infrastructure, Spokane became the commercial center of the Inland Northwest, of which it remains today. In fact, the city’s central gem, Riverfront Park, was actually converted from the former rail yards for the World’s Fair Expo ’74. After the arrival of the Union Pacific, Spokane became one of the most important rail centers in the western United States, the site of four transcontinental railroads.