East Central Neighborhood

Tour curated by: Spokane Regional Health District & Frank Oesterheld

Sponsored by the Spokane Regional Health District, this oral history project documents the devastating effects of the construction of the I-90 freeway on the East Central neighborhood.

Locations for Tour

"At one time the East Central neighborhood was the most diverse neighborhood in the city." In this interview Ivan Bush, who has lived in the East Central neighborhood for over 35 years, identifies some of the most influential institutions…

"The area where we grew up was a real neighborhood. Now it's just fast food restaurants and the freeway." Debbie Takami is a life-long resident of Spokane. She grew up in the East Central neighborhood, and her story is typical of…

"When we moved here, to this house, people put up a petition because they didn't want us here. That's been years ago, but they couldn't stop us from moving in." Theo Adams, who has lived in East Central since 1949, is one…

"It was quite difficult, I have to tell you like it is . . . . We couldn't buy a house in South Hill because of color." Like Theo Adams, Tommy Fletcher moved to East Central in 1950 and experienced first-hand the deep racial tensions…

"We didn't like the things they did and they didn't like the things we did." Born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1927, Violet Noble came to the East Central neighborhood during the growth period of the 1940s. This was also a time…

"It was just a nice little community, and then the freeway came through and bisected the thing so we ended up with two East Central neighborhoods." Jim Hanley has lived in the East Central neighborhood since his father was assigned to…

"The freeway truly impacted the community. It dispersed families. It was a total division between the north part of Spokane and the south part of Spokane." Jerome Green has lived in the East Central neighborhood since he was a child,…

"Some of the residential that was left wasn't worth saving. Probably the best homes are still left here." The lasting effects of the construction of the I-90 freeway were not all bad, according to Bill and Doug Trudeau. Both…

"Traffic being diverted to the freeway left the businesses here in more of a state of need than I think people were hoping." Because Devin Samuelson's experience with the East Central neighborhood extends only back to the late 1980s…

"We're divided. We're completely separate, and you have to make a concerted effort to get to one side or the other." Jack-Daniyel Strong's experience with the East Central community began in 1995, long after the completion…

"It's been a very graphic, if not shocking display of what a major infrastructure change can have on a neighborhood." Dave Clack's family has owned property and operated businesses in the East Central neighborhood since 1938, and…

"I-90 might have been good for Spokane, but it was not good for [the East Central] neighborhood." Jerry Numbers is, without a doubt, the most recognized leader in the East Central neighborhood. He has been involved with the community…

"[The I-90 freeway] separated the little neighborhood [to the north] from all the services on the south side." Claudia Holtz does not live in the East Central neighborhood, but she has worked tirelessly to help some of its most…

"[The effects of I-90 were] very negative. I don't know, it just seemed to take the heart out of the people." Wayne Struck has lived in the East Central neighborhood since 1944. One the neighborhood's longest continuous…

"You'd have thought we moved to the North Pole when we moved to the other side of the freeway." Lois D'Ewart has lived in the East Central neighborhood since 1960, long enough to remember the Clark's Department Store in the…