Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rest in Peace King Forrest Cole

Today is the funeral for King Cole the President of Expo 74 here in Spokane. Expo 74 really changed downtown Spokane, and today we have a wonderful Riverfront Park as the legacy of King Cole and Expo 74.
This first picture was taken of the future Expo site in 1961. The big building next to the railroad tracks near the middle of the picture was the Union Pacific railroad station. The two streets to the left were Trent (today Spokane Falls Blvd.) and Main, and most of the businesses between them were taverns and flop houses, Spokane's skid row. Near the middle was the Great Northern Station, with its wonderful clock tower that remains today. In the upper left is a large white building, in 1961 it was the Montgomery Wards store, today it is the City Hall.

The second picture was taken from a slightly different view in 1973, by then King Cole had gotten the railroads to donate the land they had their tracks and depots on and all the tracks, railroad bridges and railroad buildings had been removed. In the lower right of this picture is the start of the Washington State Pavilion for Expo, after Expo it was the Spokane Opera House (Now INB Performing Arts Center) and convention center. Lower left was the start of a circle that became the beer garden during Expo and today houses the Looff Carousel. The large oval near the middle was the US Pavilion with Spokane's first Imax theater which is still there. Today they have an ice skating rink in the winter and kiddie rides in the summer. Near the middle is the Great Northern Clock Tower and they put large numbers in the tower counting down the days till Expo 74 opened.

President Nixon came to Spokane to dedicate the US Pavilion and open the Expo and from May through October some 5 million people came to see EXPO 74. I had bought a season ticket and went several times and visited all the pavilions and even took the sky ride over the falls. Today the sky ride is still there, but they have replaced the gondolas and the cable since Expo. After Expo most of the buildings were sold for scrap, and beautiful Riverfront Park is the legacy left for future generations.
After Expo 74 King Cole went to Knoxville, Tennessee and worked on their Expo 82 and even to Vancouver Canada to work on Expo 86, but it all started with Expo 74 here in Spokane. Thanks King, Spokane will miss you, rest in peace.


  1. He could have done more to preserve either of the two depots. Both were beautiful buildings that should not have been torn down. Had the World's Fair been today, this wouldn't have happened.

  2. I agree both buildings were beautiful, I was rather fond of the Great Northern depot as my grandfather worked for the Great Northern in Hillyard.



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