In 1908, the Washington Street Bridge was constructed over the Spokane River, to provide an avenue for the rapidly growing city's population. The 242 feet bridge was constructed by the Wallace-Coates Engineering Company of Chicago. They used a series of ribbed concrete arches for stability. The bridge's costs inflated a great deal during construction. One Spokane city councilmen reportedly said that if they ever spent that much again, "the council would never be able to bond the city for another dollar for any purpose." Nevertheless, the bridge was completed in 1909.
In 1910, a group of Spokane businesses offered Harry Houdini an undisclosed cash sum to perform one of his daring magic tricks on the Washington Street Bridge. Houdini reportedly had chains placed around his legs and his hands put in handcuffs, before plummeting to the Spokane River below. Houdini sunk deep into the freezing waters for a moment, before triumphantly arising to the surface unchained. The marketing stunt was a great success, and marks the Washington Street Bridge's only claim to fame.
The bridge continued in relatively uninterrupted use until the late 1970s, when cracks and holes were discovered in the concrete superstructure. Weight limits and other stopgap measures were proposed, but in the end the decision was made to re-build it entirely, and by 1985 nothing remained of the original structure. Before its demolition, the Washington Street Bridge had the honor of being the oldest concrete bridge in the State of Washington.