Saturday, June 11, 2011
US Capitol Cities: Boise, Idaho
Boise (Boy-zee) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Idaho as well as the county seat of Ada County. Located on the Boise River, this is the most populated city of the Boise City-Nampa metropolitan area and the largest city between Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon. As of the 2010 Census Bureau, Boise's city population was 205,671, making it the fourth largest city in the American Pacific Northwest. The Boise metropolitan area is estimated to have 616,500 inhabitants, by far the most populous metropolitan area in Idaho. It is also the 104th largest U.S. city by population.
The area was called Boise long before establishment of Fort Boise. The original Fort Boise was 40 miles (64 km) west near Parma, down the Boise River near its confluence with the Snake River at the Oregon border. This defense was erected by the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1830s. It was abandoned in the 1850s, but massacres along the Oregon Trail prompted the U.S. Army to re-establish a fort in the area in 1863 during the U.S. Civil War.
The new location was selected because it was near the intersection of the Oregon Trail with a major road connecting the Boise Basin (Idaho City) and the Owyhee (Silver City) mining areas, both of which were booming at the time. During the mid-1860s, Idaho City was the largest city in the Northwest, and as a staging area, Fort Boise grew rapidly; Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864. The first capital of the Idaho Territory was Lewiston in north Idaho, which in 1863 was the largest community, exceeding the populations of Olympia and Seattle, Washington Territory and Portland, Oregon combined. The original territory was larger than Texas. But following the creation of Montana Territory, Boise was made the territorial capital of a much reduced Idaho in a contentious decision which overturned a district court ruling via a one vote margin in the territorial supreme court along geographic lines in 1866.
Designed by Alfred B. Mullett, the U.S. Assay Office at 210 Main Street was built in 1871, and is today a National Historic Landmark.
Boise is located at 43°36′49″N 116°14′16″W / 43.61361°N 116.23778°W / 43.61361; -116.23778 (43.613739, −116.237651), in western Idaho, approximately 41 miles (66 km) east of the Oregon border, and 110 miles (177 km) north of the Nevada border. The downtown sits at an elevation of 2,704 feet (824 m) above sea level.
Most of the metropolitan area lies on a broad, relatively flat plain, descending to the west. Mountains rise up to the northeast, stretching from the far southeastern tip of the Boise city limits to nearby Eagle. These mountains are known to locals as the Boise foothills and are sometimes described as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. About 34 miles (55 km) southwest of Boise, and about 26 miles (42 km) southwest of Nampa, the Owyhee Mountains lie entirely in neighboring Owyhee County.
According to the census bureau, the city has a total area of 64.0 square miles (166 km2), with 63.8 square miles (165 km2) of land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.33%) of water. The city is drained by the Boise River.
Parts of the city
The Idaho State Capitol is the 3rd tallest building in BoiseBoise occupies a large area — 64 sq mi (170 km2) according to the United States Census Bureau. Like most major metropolitan areas, it is divided into several neighborhoods. These include the Bench, the North End, West Boise and Downtown, among others.
Downtown Boise is Boise's cultural center and home to many small businesses and several high-rises. The area has an array of shopping and dining choices. Centrally, 8th Street contains a pedestrian zone with streetside cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood is home to many local restaurants, bars and boutiques and supports a lively night life.
Downtown Boise's economy was threatened in the late 1990s by extensive growth around the Boise Towne Square Mall (away from the city center) and an increasing number of shopping centers which have sprung up around new housing developments. Events such as Alive-after-Five and First Thursday have been created to combat this trend.
The North End, which contains many of Boise's older homes, is known for its tree-lined drives such as Harrison Boulevard, and for its quiet neighborhoods near the downtown area. Downtown Boise is visible from Camel's Back Park. On 13th Street, Hyde Park is home to four small restaurants and other businesses. The North End also hosts events such as the annual Hyde Park Street Fair. In 2008, the American Planning Association (APA) designated Boise's North End one of 10 Great Neighborhoods.
Lakeharbor on Silver LakeSouthwest Boise contains sparsely populated neighborhoods built from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Many include acre-sized plots and the occasional farmhouse and pasture. Growth in the area was limited in the 1980s to prevent of urban sprawl. Since this has been lifted there has been widespread growth of new homes and neighborhoods. The area lies fairly close to Interstate 84, theaters, shopping, the airport, golf and the Boise Bench area.
Northwest Boise lies against the Boise Foothills to the north, State Street to the south, the city of Eagle to the west, and downtown Boise to the east. It contains a mix of old and new neighborhoods, including Lakeharbor, which features the private Silver Lake, a reclaimed quarry. Northwest Boise has some pockets of older homes with a similar aesthetic to the North End. Downtown is minutes away, as is Veteran's Memorial Park and easy access to the Boise Greenbelt. Across the river sits the Boise Bench and to the west is fast access to the bedroom communities of Eagle, Star, and Middleton.
Warm Springs is centered around the tree-lined Warm Springs Avenue and contains some of Boise's largest and most expensive homes (many of which were erected by wealthy miners and businessmen around the turn of the 20th century; Victorian styles feature prominently). The area gets its name from the natural hot springs that flow from Boise's fault line and warm many of the homes in the area.
The far east end of Warm Springs was once known as Barber Town, featuring a hotel with hot springs nestled into the foothills. It now has some new residential developments, with easy access to Highway 21, which leads to the south-central Idaho mountains, the Boise River, the Boise Foothills, and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Southeast Boise spans from Boise State University to Micron Technology – all areas between Federal Way and the Boise River. The older area just south of the University can be described as a cross between the North End and the Boise bench. The rest of Southeast Boise was developed in the last thirty years with suburban style homes. Unlike the more typical flat suburban sprawl, residents of Southeast Boise are reminded of their city's natural beauty as they catch a close view of Table Rock, or drive along the winding Parkcenter Blvd. along the Boise River.
Many people consider this end of Boise a hidden gem as just about everything is about 15 minutes from home: the river, greenbelt, the mountains, lakes, snow, high mountain desert, and more.
Columbia Village subdivision and the older Oregon Trail Heights, were the first major planned communities in Southeast Boise with an elementary and middle school all within walking distance from all homes. The subdivision is located at the intersections of Interstate 84, Idaho 21, and Federal Way (former U.S. Highway), which are all major arteries to get anywhere in Boise. The subdivision was developed around the Simplot Sports complex (with over 20 fields), as well as a baseball complex, swimming pools, and the has a stunning view of the valley. The fields are built over an old landfill/dump and the fields and gravel parking lot allow radon gases to escape through the ground. Columbia Village Homes are not built over the dump.
TrailWind Elementary School, built in 1997, is in the middle of the subdivision and is the largest population elementary school in the Boise School District. It has an extremely active parent teacher association and a high level of parental involvement. Les Bois Junior High is also located in the center of the subdivision, having relocated from its previous home at Apple and Boise Avenue. After an upgrade and expansion, the former junior high became Timberline High School.
Surprise Valley is another large subdivision located on the bench above the river. Its homes are much higher end than the Columbia Village and Oregon Trail Heights subdivisions. Two churches are located within its borders: Eastwind Fellowship and Trinity Presbyterian, which relocated in 2002 from an older SE Boise location on Apple Street.
The Boise Bench
The Boise Bench is south of Downtown Boise and is raised in elevation approximately 60 feet (18 m). The bench is named such because the sudden rise in elevation gives the prominent appearance of a step, or bench. The Bench (or Benches, there are three actual benches throughout the Boise Valley) was created as an ancient shoreline to the old river channel. The Bench is home to the old Boise Train Depot and extensive residential neighborhoods. Due south of the Boise Bench is the Boise Airport.
West Boise is home to Boise Towne Square Mall, the largest in the state, as well as numerous restaurants, strip malls, and residential developments ranging from new subdivisions to apartment complexes. The Ada County jail and Hewlett Packard's Printing Division are also located here. It is relatively the flattest section of Boise, with sweeping views of the Boise Front
Boise is the headquarters for several major companies, such as Boise Cascade LLC, New Albertsons Inc., Albertsons LLC, J.R. Simplot Company, Idaho Pacific Lumber Company, Idaho Timber, WinCo Foods, Bodybuilding.com, and Clearwater Analytics. Other major industries are headquartered in Boise or have large manufacturing facilities present. The state government is also one of the city's largest employers.
The area's largest private employer publicly traded and headquartered company in Boise is Micron Technology (NYSE: MU). Others include IDACORP, Inc. (NYSE: ida), the parent company of Idaho Power, Idaho Bancorp (NYSE: IDA), Boise, Inc. (NYSE: BZ), American Ecology Corp. (NASDAQ: ECOL), PCS Edventures.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCSV) and Syringa Bancorp.
Technology investment and the high-tech industry have become increasingly important to the city, with businesses including Healthwise, Bodybuilding.com, Crucial.com, MobileDataForce, MarkMonitor, Sybase, Balihoo.com, Wire-stone.com and Microsoft. The call center industry is also a major source of employment; there are over 20 call centers in the city employing more than 7,000 people, including WDSGlobal, EDS, Teleperformance, DIRECTV and T-Mobile.
Varney Air Service, founded by Walter Varney, was formed in Boise, though headquarted at Pasco, Washington. The original air mail contract was from Pasco to Elko, Nevada with stops in Boise in both directions. The company is the root of present day United Airlines, which still serves the city at the newly renovated and upgraded Boise Airport.
The Boise School District includes 31 elementary schools, eight junior high schools, five high schools and two specialty schools. Part of the Meridian School District (the largest district in Idaho) overlaps into Boise city limits, and the city is therefore home to six public high schools: Boise High School, Borah High School, Capital High School, Timberline High School as well as Meridian School District's Centennial High School and the alternative Frank Church High School. Boise's private schools include the Catholic Bishop Kelly High School, Foothills School of Arts and Sciences and the International Baccalaureate-accredited Riverstone International School.
Post-secondary educational options in Boise include Boise State University as well as a wide range of technical schools. University of Idaho (UI) and Idaho State University each maintain a satellite campus in Boise. As of 2009, the city did not have any law schools. UI plans to open a third-year law program in 2010 and Concordia University plans to open the Concordia University School of Law in 2011 in the city. Boise is home to Boise Bible College, an undergraduate degree-granting college that exists to train leaders for churches as well as missionaries for the world.
The Basque Block
Numbering about 15,000, Boise's ethnic Basque community is the second largest such community in the United States after Bakersfield, California and the fifth largest in the world outside Mexico, Argentina, Chile and the Basque Country in Spain and France. A large Basque festival known as Jaialdi is held once every five years (next in 2015). Downtown Boise features a vibrant section known as the "Basque Block". Boise's mayor, David H. Bieter, is of Basque descent. Boise is also a sister region of the Basque communities.
Boise is also a regional hub for jazz and theater. The Gene Harris Jazz Festival is hosted in Boise each spring. The city is also home to a number of museums, including the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Historical Museum, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Idaho Black History Museum, Boise WaterShed and the Discovery Center of Idaho. Several theater groups operate in the city, including the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Little Theatre, Boise Contemporary Theater, and Prairie Dog Productions. On the first Thursday of each month, a gallery stroll is hosted in the city's core business district by the Downtown Boise Association. The city also has the Egyptian Theatre as a renovated venue. In the fall, Downtown Boise hosts a film festival called Idaho International Film Festival.
Boise also has a thriving performing arts community. The Boise Philharmonic, now in its 49th season, under the leadership of Music Director and Conductor Robert Franz continues to grow musically, and introduces world-class guest artists and composers year after year. The dance community is represented by the resurgent Ballet Idaho under artistic director Peter Anastos, and the nationally known and critically acclaimed Trey McIntyre Project also make their home in Boise. Rounding out the classical performing arts is Opera Idaho under the direction of Mark Junkert, who bring grand Opera to various venues throughout the Treasure Valley.
The Boise Centre on the Grove is an 85,000-square-foot (7,900 m2) convention center that hosts a variety of events, including international, national, and regional conventions, conferences, banquets, and consumer shows. It is located in the heart of downtown Boise and borders the Grove Plaza, which hosts numerous outdoor functions throughout the year.
The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center offers water features and wildlife experiences just east of downtown. It is located adjacent to Municipal Park. It features live fish and wildlife exhibits, viewing areas into the water, bird and butterfly gardens, waterfalls and a free visitor's center.
Boise has diverse and vibrant religious communities. The Jewish community's Ahavath Beth Israel Temple, completed 1896, is the nation's oldest continually-used temple west of the Mississippi. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated a temple there in 1984 and the Boise Hare Krishna Temple opened in August 1999.
Boise (along with Valley and Boise Counties) hosted the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. More than 2,500 athletes from over 85 countries participated
A number of recreational opportunities are available in Boise, including extensive hiking and biking in the foothills to the immediate north of downtown. Much of this trail network is part of Hull's Gulch and can be accessed by 8th street. An extensive urban trail system called the Boise River Greenbelt runs along the river. The Boise River itself is a common destination for fishing, swimming and rafting.
In Julia Davis Park is Zoo Boise, which has over 200 animals representing over 80 species from around the world. An Africa exhibit, completed in 2008, is the most recent addition.
The Bogus Basin ski area opened in 1942 and hosts multiple winter activities, primarily alpine skiing and snowboarding, but also cross-country skiing and snow tubing. "Bogus" is 16 miles (26 km) from the city limits (less than an hour drive from downtown) on a twisty paved road which climbs 3400 vertical feet (1036 m) through sagebrush and forest.
Professional sports teams in Boise include the Boise Hawks of the short-season Class A Northwest League (minor league baseball), the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL (minor league hockey), the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League (minor league basketball), and the Treasure Valley Spartans (semi-pro football) of the (Rocky Mountain Football League). An arenafootball2 franchise, the Boise Burn, began play in 2007 but is now defunct.
On the sports entertainment front, Boise is home to an all-female, DIY, flat track roller derby league, the Treasure Valley Rollergirls, which on Labor Day Weekend 2010 hosted an international, two-day, double elimination tournament, the first Spudtown Knockdown, featuring eight teams from throughout the American West and Canada.
The Boise Buccaneers of the Professional Developmental Football League began play in 2009. The team provides a platform for former collegiate athletes and other talented players to continue playing at high level, while trying to extend their career. Games are during the spring and summer and are located at Simplot Stadium in Caldwell ID.
The Boise State University campus is home to Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts local and national fine arts performances; Bronco Stadium, the 32,000 seat football and track stadium known for its blue Field Turf field; and Taco Bell Arena, a 12,000 seat basketball and entertainment venue which opened in 1982 as the BSU Pavilion. Boise State University is known primarily for the recent successes of its football team, although it is also a fairly well regarded commuter school for undergraduate students.
The Roady's Humanitarian Bowl football game (formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl and later the MPC Computers Bowl) is held in late December each year, and pairs a team from the Western Athletic Conference with a Mid-American Conference team.
The World Center for Birds of Prey is located just outside city limits, and is a key part of the re-establishment of the Peregrine Falcon and the subsequent removal from the Endangered Species list. The center is currently breeding the very rare California condor, among many other rare and endangered species.
The city has been cited by publications like Forbes, Fortune and Sunset for its quality of life.
The cornerstone mall in Boise, Boise Towne Square Mall, is also a major shopping attraction for Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, and surrounding areas and has recently been through an upgrade along with adding new retailers.
The state's largest giant sequoia can be found near St. Lukes Hospital.