In Part I of this series, I discussed the city’s historical downtown must-sees. But there’s more to a city than its centrally-located tourist attractions. To really get intimate with a city means exploring some of the neighborhoods that have helped shaped its history. I can picture the late Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) educating the kids in any one of these locales.
South Hill — Spokane’s haven of tranquility
Just south of downtown, a cluster of neighborhoods known as South Hill beckons. It’s like going into another world from hustle and bustle of the city, where tall evergreens dominate the skyline rather than brick and mortar edifices. Our drive offered me a view of the stately-looking homes, including Craftsman-style bungalows and beautifully-put-together brick domiciles. This was especially evident as we got closer to South Hill’s “jewel in the crown,” in the Manito neighborhood, for it contains a 90-acre green space called Manito Park.
The park, designed by the famous Olmstead brothers of Central Park fame, combines both the best of man’s landscaping ideas with Mother Nature’s unspoiled beauty. The area is prefaced by basalt rock formations jutting out everywhere. In the midst of the unspoiled habitat, my eyes were captivated by a stone bridge built in the 1930s. Even on a warm, sunny afternoon with the public out hiking, biking, or admiring one of the six gardens (including for lilacs and roses), I felt a real sense of calmness and peace in a place that once was a zoo, until the hard times of the Great Depression caused its closure. At the north central end of the park, one can still see remnants of the bear’s habitat, as just behind the Park Bench Café resides a basalt rock formation that has iron bars sticking out of it.
Of the six gardens, a must-see is the Duncan Garden, which was created in the spirit of European formal gardens in France and Italy centuries ago for royalty. Each year, some 70,000 annuals are planted there to make for a colorful scene of begonias, geraniums, marigolds, etc., that serve up those special backdrops for senior pictures and weddings.