Spokane grew to become a supply center for the region's farmers, ranchers, and miners and as a point of departure for local resources. The city's West Downtown Historic Transportation Corridor is historically significant because of its association with the expansion of railroads, the advent of the automobile, and the rise of Spokane as a regional distribution center. The district's extant buildings that housed railroad-dependent businesses, automobile-related concerns, and worker lodgings are associated with the city's growth.
The Northern Pacific reached Spokane in 1881, and with its completion as a transcontinental railroad in 1883, it linked the northern reaches of the United States with the nation's central distribution centers and allowed for increased industrial, agricultural, and urban growth. After the turn of the century, the automobile had an equally far-reaching impact on Spokane and other western cities. These transportation developments signaled a pattern of events that made a significant contribution to the development of Spokane and the Inland Empire.
The District has a high concentration of building types that represent: a) railroad-dependent businesses consisting primarily of warehouses, but also of manufactories for local market; b) lodgings related to the traveling and transient population that came to Spokane as a direct result of its growth, most notably, single room occupancy hotels, or SROs, designed to make maximum use of space; and c) the sales and service enterprises associated with the rise of the automobile. The West Downtown Historic Transportation Corridor was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.