Kirstin Davis

5th Avenue Then, Now and Next

Kirstin Davis, Communications Manager, Neighborhood & Business Services, 509.625.7773

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 8:38 a.m.

5th Avenue Then, Now and Next


The 5th Avenue corridor in the East Central neighborhood in Spokane is rich with history and has evolved many times over the last 150 years. Once a bustling working-class neighborhood, from the 1900s to 1960s the community experienced hardship with economic downturns, racial discrimination and "redlining" practices in mortgage lending, interstate highway construction and housing displacement. East Central and more specifically the 5th Avenue corridor has always been one of the most diverse communities in Spokane. Starting in the 1970s, the area became the cultural center for the city’s African American community, which represented over 20 percent of the area’s population, in addition to many other ethnic groups and immigrant families. The community has shown determined resilience and optimism continues today with community entrepreneurship and catalyst neighborhood investments including education, business, health care and recreation resources.

We invite you to take a digital tour of East Central with where you will learn the rich history and hear from residents and business leaders who experienced the ups and downs.


The 5th Avenue area remains one of the most diverse communities in Spokane, and the 2017 demographics have shifted to include Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinx or a combination of races. A large number of foreign-born households call the area home as well, including people from Eastern Europe, Marshall Islands, Vietnam, Cuba, and Mexico. The African American population most recently represents over five percent of the population in the 5th Avenue area.

Progress and infrastructural change takes time and foresight. As expansion of the ECEAP program for early learning at the MLK Center at East Central nears completion, dirt is starting to move just feet away to build the CHAS Health Dental Clinic. In 2018, City voters approved a bond that includes rebuilding the East Spokane/Liberty Park Library branch double in size and emphasizing a Children’s Zone adjacent to the Aquatic Center at Liberty Park. Area businesses, nonprofits, and churches have been working to enhance 5th Avenue as a catalyst for a renewed vision in East Central. There has been much progress already, including the opening of Fresh Soul, SERA Youth Tutoring and Recreation Center and exciting plans for the Carl Maxey Center. Additionally, the City assisted the neighborhood by investing in sidewalk improvements and planting new street trees along 5th Avenue. The North-Spokane Corridor is also planned to connect with I-90 at the Liberty Park interchange, and WSDOT is working with the community on placemaking activities and identifying the best location for pedestrian overpasses to reconnect the neighborhood.


Residents, businesses, and community leaders are engaging with the City of Spokane in a neighborhood-driven effort to revitalize East 5th Avenue between Liberty Park and Thor/Freya in the East Central neighborhood. The 5th Avenue Initiative builds upon previous discussions in 2016 and 2017. This project looks to develop a community vision that is inclusive and unified, and provides strategic actions for improvements, programming, and community building along 5th Avenue. This multi-faceted initiative reflects the diversity of East Central Spokane, and the outcome will support efforts to foster neighborhood identity and enhance quality of life for citizens and businesses along the 5th Avenue corridor.

5th Avenue Initiative Community Forum
Saturday, February 22
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
MLK Center at East Central (500 S. Stone Street)

For more information, contact Maren Murphy,, or 509.625.6737

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