East Central is a neighborhood in the city of Spokane, in the state of Washington. As the name implies, it is located on the east side of Spokane and is in a central location. Although the official neighborhood is large, it encompasses a number of areas that are considered to be independent neighborhoods by locals, including the International District on East Sprague Avenue, the South Perry District, the Underhill Park area, the University District, and the eastern fringe of Downtown Spokane, among other areas.
Although East Central was initially intended to be a working-class suburb built early in Spokane‘s history, the neighborhood suffered from a series of disastrous economic fortunes during World War I, during the Great Depression, and again in the 1950s.
An additional significant setback for the community occurred in 1965, when Interstate 90 was constructed, effectively dividing the area in half. Houses were demolished and residents were relocated, and churches and other community-building groups, as well as businesses, were compelled to close their doors as a result.
Following that, the neighborhood developed a reputation for being a haven for poverty, prostitution, and illegal drugs. This is especially true in the area around Sprague Avenue, which is shut off from the rest of the community by I-90.
During the first decade of the twenty-first century, city planners focused their attention on urban redevelopment initiatives in the surrounding area. The South Perry District was the first neighborhood to be targeted. Construction on Perry Street began in 2007 with the installation of curb bump-outs at crosswalks and bus stops, which were intended to slow traffic on the street. Other improvements included the planting of shade trees, the installation of pedestrian lights on the sidewalks, the installation of benches, and the addition of other amenities.
The project cost in excess of $900,000 to complete. Perry Street, between the eighth and twelfth avenues, saw six new companies establish between 2009 and 2012, with the most recent opening in 2012. Restaurants, bars, and shops were among the companies represented, as were other retailers. Residents of the adjacent and surrounding neighborhoods flocked to the four-plus block stretch of Perry Street, which quickly established itself as a gathering place.
The process of urban renewal, on the other hand, continues. As of November 2021, a large number of abandoned buildings remained dotted the region surrounding Sprague Avenue, including the old McKinley School, which is depicted above. Plans to renovate the structure have been discussed and revised multiple times over the last few years, but none has been implemented.
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