Yesterday and today: Front Street
Spokane Falls Boulevard was the name chosen in a 1974 name change contest for the wide street that faces Riverfront Park.
The city’s pioneer and founder, James Glover, first called it Front Street, or Front Avenue, when he arrived a century earlier. It was a common name for a trade route in many cities. That name endured as Spokane flourished into a bustling regional business center in the late 1800s. It was a wide, unpaved street lined with warehouses, rooming houses and businesses.
Front was also close to several rail lines including the Great Northern, Spokane International and others. In 1902, the Great Northern opened its depot on Havermale Island and a freight warehouse on the nearby south shore. As other rail lines were laid along the Front to serve the new Union Station, the name was changed to Trent in 1912 to clarify that it connected with Trent Road outside the city limits.
Trent was an area east of Millwood, in the hollow of the Spokane River where Antoine Plante made his ferry crossing in the 1860s. Trent Road was a rugged unpaved track from Havana and Olive and followed the tracks from the North Pacific northeast through Trent, later called Irwin, and to the Idaho border.
In 1898, Spokane County road crews leveled and smoothed the trail as best they could. The shallow, rocky Spokane River through Trent was a popular area for fishing, swimming, and exploring. Although there were no cars yet, county road planners knew people wanted to get there. “When in good condition, cyclists can head east to the hunting and fishing grounds of Newman or Spirit Lakes or to Coeur d’Alenes with less effort and in less time.” , according to EE Alexander, who worked on the project, in the Spokane Chronicle.
Trent Road, from the city limits to Havana Street to Hardesty Road, actually stretched into the lands of the North Pacific, and the railroad wanted to create a new railway yard there in 1911. The city and the iron fought over ownership of the road until 1911, when the county agreed to move away from the old road and the railroad would build the new road north of the new yard, starting from Mission Avenue. Hardesty would later be renamed Fancher Way.