Charles A Libby, photographer of Spokane
February 19, 2020 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Through His Eyes: It’s because of Charles A. Libby that we know what early Spokane looked like is a 2013 article about this extraordinary commercial photographer who's career spanned 7 decades and his negatives and their corresponding catalog books (photos for sale, after all) are all now housed at the Northwest Museum Of Arts And Culture (2015 article with many photo examples), and can (I believe now) all be seen online. Here's a very early (1903) photo from the online collection and here is one from 1966 taken along the same street.

The archive is vast and is not entirely in chronological order, but it's a remarkable photographic document of a city across formative decades by someone who was shilling his photography at every possible opportunity, and apparently doing well with it.
posted by hippybear (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Yay for my who's/whose typo!
posted by hippybear at 10:02 PM on February 19, 2020

Can not dig through for the exact photo just now of the large hotel in Spokane but the one thing I remember being told is it washed all the money daily (in a central fountain sort of?) so that all the change given was bright and shiny. Well seemed cool when I was a young'n, and will be interested in seeing what the lobby looked like.
posted by sammyo at 10:42 PM on February 19, 2020

Hmm, maybe Hotel Coeur D' Alene.
posted by sammyo at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2020

Likely the Davenport Hotel, which languished for years and has been brought back to life in a remarkable restoration. Here is a photo of the front desk from 1925. Here is that same front desk today.
posted by hippybear at 10:52 PM on February 19, 2020

Wow, thanks for this! I just moved to Spokane and I'm enjoying it. Ready to dig into some history. Any other MeFites out here?
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2020

I found a picture from the 1920s of a house a few houses down from mine. It looks just the same! Crazy. Thanks for this post. I'm going to have to poke around and see what else I can find from my neighborhood.
posted by ilovewinter at 8:01 AM on February 20, 2020

This is great. Thanks!

We started visiting Spokane on the regular a few years ago when my sister in law moved there, so this is really fascinating.

I hadn't known that the clock tower was previously part of a rail station.

And funnily enough, I'm currently wearing a t-shirt I picked up at Boo Radley's.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2020

Good story. Too bad that the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture had to ruin the viewing of the few photos (on the 2015 collections page) by splashing their name in bold white type in the center of each photo.
posted by Twang at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I found that somewhat irritating. It's a photo from 1903, stop trying to control shared cultural history by stamping your name all over it, it's not like the museum made the photos.
posted by tavella at 4:04 PM on February 20, 2020

I think it's that the museum has somehow been bequeathed the entire library (apparently something like 30,000 photos!) and has done the work to digitize them, so they get to watermark the digital images. You can purchase non-watermarked versions (both physical and digital), which I assume helps pay for the museum's work on this collection and helps support the museum's work in general.
posted by hippybear at 6:24 AM on February 21, 2020

« Older Witness to Vitesse   |   A Whole New World Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments