Spokane Falls SkyRide

Expo '74 and Riverfront Park Tour - Stop 7

The 1974 World's Fair provided Spokane with an opportunity to reclaim the beauty of Spokane Falls, which had been hidden for years by railroad tracks. In order to provide visitors with the most stunning views of this natural feature, fair planners built the SkyRide. This attraction would provide visitors with unparalleled close ups of the falls for years to come.

There were two different sky rides featured at Expo, one over the fair, and the other over the falls. The ride that went over the fair was simply a ski lift minus the snow. Visitors would hop on the lift and experience the fair from a whole new perspective. Riding the chairlift provided a bird's eye view of many of the pavilions and perhaps helped fairgoers plan their day in terms of figuring out what to go see first. Like most structures built for Expo, the chair lift was removed from the park when the fair ended.

The second ride runs directly over the falls and serves to this day as one of downtown Spokane's main attractions. Unlike the chairlift over the fair, the Spokane Falls SkyRide comes in the form of a gondola to better protect visitors from the raging waters below. The ride takes visitors from its starting point on Havermale Island, over the falls, and under the Monroe Street Bridge into a world of mist. Many Spokane locals have taken this ride at least once. Sherman Alexie, a Spokane Indian author remembers riding the gondola with his father in one of his essays. He recalls, "My father told me to hang on... He was smiling as I struggled to keep my shoe."

One goal of Expo 74 was to clean up the river and reclaim the beauty of the falls. There are now many views of the falls from several different vantage points in the downtown area. But the SkyRide is by far the most spectacular. In 2013 the SkyRide was named "One of the Top 12 Scenic Cable Rides in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler Daily Traveller. The SkyRide takes full advantage of the second longest urban falls in the United States, but written descriptions often fail to do it justice. The only way to fully appreciate this ride is to experience it for yourself.

Images

SkyRide

SkyRide

An artist's rendering of a couple taking a relaxing ride on the fair's SkyRide. Postcard image courtesy of Anna Harbine View File Details Page

Expo's spectacular views

Expo's spectacular views

Artist Keith Oka captures the SkyRide's incredible views in his painting. Image courtesy of the Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room View File Details Page

Sky Ride

Sky Ride

A view of the SkyRide with the U.S. Pavilion in the background Postcard image courtesy of Anna Harbine View File Details Page

An Artist's SkyRide

An Artist's SkyRide

An artistic rendering of the SkyRide concept by Keith Oka Image courtesy of the Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room View File Details Page

A view from the SkyRide

A view from the SkyRide

Image courtesy of the Spokane Public Library's Northwest Room View File Details Page

Ride Over the Falls

Ride Over the Falls

An artist's rendering of the sky ride taking in the view over Spokane's Falls. Postcard image courtesy of Anna Harbine View File Details Page

Chairlift

Chairlift

A picture of the ride over the fair, outside of the U.S.S.R. pavilion. Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture View File Details Page

SkyRide

SkyRide

The SkyRide at its departure point. Photo by Cory Carpenter View File Details Page

Spokane Falls SkyRide

Spokane Falls SkyRide

One of the main attractions of Riverfront Park. Photo by Cory Carpenter View File Details Page

Video

Spokane Falls SkyRide

Photos and Narration by Cory Carpenter View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Cory Carpenter, “Spokane Falls SkyRide,” Spokane Historical, accessed June 25, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/381.
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