This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
A front page Spokesman-Review article, under the headline “Park


Improvements Add Fifteen Times Their Cost to Adjacent Property,” stated on August 4, 1907: “Property adjacent to a developed boulevard is 100 percent more


valuable than it would have been in the same district without the park or boulevard improvements having been made. This is the unanimous opinion of real estate men, who are in one accord in boosting for a better park and boulevard system.”


AUBREY WHITE AND THE CITY BEAUTIFUL CLUB In the early 1900s, Aubrey White spent about six years on the


East Coast on business matters. While in New York City, he joined the Municipal League, a civic organization concerned with parks and city improvements. During that time, he became aware of the challenges New York City had faced in securing parkland after city developments had consumed most of the open space suitable for parks. The cost to the city was far greater than it would have been had the land been secured while it was still vacant. When White returned to Spokane, he realized that at the rate the city was growing, if park land was not secured soon, in all probability, it would soon become completely unaffordable and, thus, unobtainable. In 1905, to promote Spokane and increase its population, the 150,000 Club was formed. Two years later, White convinced the club to form a separate committee called the City Beautiful Club. Its function was to encourage the beautification of Spokane, largely through the promotion and establishment of a city park and playground system. His goal was to have a park or recreation area within walking distance of every neighborhood. White then organized and served as president of the City Beautiful Club.


SPOKANE’S PARK SYSTEM DEVELOPED One of the club’s first agenda items was to convince the city of


the need for a nonpolitical park board. Prior to its creation in 1907, politics largely controlled how parks were developed and managed, often to the detriment of both the city and the parks. Upon formation of this board, Aubrey White was elected president at the first meeting. He served in this capacity from 1907 to 1922. Upon becoming president of the park board, White convinced


the city to hire the famous Massachusetts landscape architects, the Olmsted Brothers, to design a system of parks, parkways and boulevards for the growing city of Spokane. John Olmsted agreed to prepare the plan. Over several visits in 1907 and 1908, White accompanied John Charles Olmsted and his associate, Dawson, to Spokane’s potential and existing park sites. Later, Olmsted and Dawson returned to their offices in Massachusetts, and prepared a comprehensive park-related report. It began with their belief that every home, from humble to grand, should be within easy walking distance of a neighborhood park, and the more parks the better. They also believed that large areas of parkland should be left natural and


undeveloped, especially large parks on the edges of city. White later became known as the “Father of Spokane Parks.” Under


his leadership, the city came close to adopting the goal of a park within a 10- or 15-minute walk of every residence. He worked almost until his death in 1948 on the promotion of other improvements to enhance the quality of life in the community.


SPOKANE’S PARKS A complete and thorough study of Spokane’s parks would be a


book unto itself. Consequently, only five parks are featured here by way of example. One is the city’s first (Coeur d’Alene), three were designed by the Olmsted Brothers (Liberty, Cannon Hill and Corbin), and one has become Spokane’s premiere, award-winning park (Manito).


Coeur d’Alene Park: Spokane’s first city park The first effort in an attempt by Browne


and Cannon to donate Coeur d’Alene Park was initiated by J.J. Browne. This proposal had numerous conditions attached, and proved to be very advantageous to Browne and Cannon. The following article appeared in the Morning Review on April 16, 1887: “In reference to the Coeur d’Alene Park


matter, which was laid over at the last meeting, Mr. J.J. Browne, who was present, stated to the Council that he was willing to convey his interests, and he thought Mr. Cannon would also do the same, if the city were to proceed to accept and improve the grounds. The property was now worth, figuring on a basis at which adjoining property was selling, at least $16,000. Mr. Hoover moved that the city accept


Aubrey White and his four daughters, from left: Mary Elizabeth, Betty, Louise, and Harriet. (Courtesy of Charlie Willies)


the property and agreed to fence the same and convey water upon the land on or before November 1,1887. Carried.” Mr. Browne stated that he was ready to


convey the property to the city as soon as the city complied with the conditions of the motion.


Browne’s Addition developed around Coeur d’Alene Park Most of Browne’s property was located in the triangle of land


formed by the Hangman Creek and the Spokane River. In 1883, this property was considered to be the most exclusive part of town. It included wide streets and a park, half of which was in Cannon’s Addition. The addition was almost perfectly level, rising slightly from the original town site. Browne and Cannon each acquired 160 acres with the eastern boundary, which adjoined Canon’s as Third Avenue through preemption claims. It was Mr. Browne’s intention to have his property subdivided.


Browne’s Addition was surveyed and platted in 1883, at which time he began selling lots. By July of that year, Browne already had a force of men grading the streets and putting them in traveling condition. He stated he “intends to have his residence and surroundings equal to anything the territory has.” This is corroborated in the July 21, 1883, edition of the Spokesman Falls Review, which stated: “[Browne]


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