Boise, Idaho

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This article deals with the state capital of Idaho. For other places named Boise, refer to Boise (disambiguation).

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Boise, Idaho
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MayorDavid H. Bieter
 - Total
 - Water

165.7 km² (64.0 mi²)
0.5 km² (0.2 mi²) 0.33% 
 - City (2000)
 - Density
 - Metropolitan

Time zoneMountain (UTC –7)
WGS-84 (GPS)
 43.6137° N 116.2077° W

Boise is the capital and largest city of Idaho, a state in the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 199,787. It is the county seat of Ada County, and the primary city of the Boise metropolitan area. Boise's elevation is 2,842 feet.



Teetering between its rural roots and high-tech tomorrow, Boise's distinctive neighborhoods tell a story of growth. Elegant subdivisions line manicured golf courses and caress the Boise River. Rolling eastward and westward, these neighborhoods have replaced farmland, shortening the boundaries between adjacent towns.

What were once sleepy, rural villages are now considered Boise's bedroom communities like Meridian, Eagle, Nampa and Caldwell, all located west of Boise off Interstate 84. Boise proper is built around breathtaking mountains and sagebrush desert. Seven distinct districts, each with its own feel and attraction, introduce old Boise to new.

North End: The Beat of Boise Tree-lined Harrison Boulevard's historic mansions set the tone for this old neighborhood. Including the downtown area, this northern district is referred to by locals as the North End. Young couples looking for charm are fixing up North End homes, creating a renewed interest in one of Boise's original neighborhoods.

In the middle of the North End sits Hyde Park, with its boutiques and popular eateries like Lucky 13. For more than 20 years the Hyde Park Street Fair has set the tone for this funky neighborhood. Spilling into Camel's Back Park, one of Boise's more popular open spaces, the fair attracts visitors from all over the Treasure Valley.

East End: Mixing Old With New Like the North End, the area northeast of downtown Boise also boasts a historic street, Warm Springs Avenue. Posh Victorian homes make the avenue a tourist attraction. Many of the houses are geothermally heated, taking advantage of hot water sources for heat. Stretching high into the foothills, the East End also includes many modern homes with enviable views of the city.

In addition, the district hosts some of Boise's most impressive parks. Julia Davis Park, hugs the neighborhood's southern boundary while Warm Springs Golf Club stretches along its eastern edge. Nearby, the educational Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center is one of Boise's main attractions.

Northwest: Horses and High Prices Merging farmland with modern subdivisions, this northwestern district is a good example of the changes Boise is undergoing. From its eastern boundary near Eagle, the district touches the Boise River to the south and stretches north to include some of Boise's most exclusive subdivisions and the Quail Hollow Golf Course.

Although new homes punctuate the landscape, there is still plenty of room for horse pastures and older farm homes in this neighborhood, dating back to the late 1800s. One of the main roads, Collister, is named for Dr. George Collister, a Boise pioneer. Pierce Park Road takes its name from Walter Pierce, whose park-building efforts have been transformed into the Plantation Golf Course.

Garden City: City Within City Named for historic gardens raised by Chinese immigrants, this small city within Boise's boundaries stretches along Chinden Boulevard, also named for a Chinese garden. The 50-year-old city has a tarnished past from legalized gambling in the late 1940s to adult bookstores. Today, its main attraction is the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, home to the Western Idaho Fair. Les Bois Park offers horse racing, while professional baseball is found at the Hawks Memorial Stadium. Park and history lovers enjoy Centennial Park, honoring Garden City's original Chinese residents.

Boise Bench: 1950s Suburbia Meets High-Tech Not that long ago, the Boise Bench was a mishmash of 1950s brick bungalows and grander homes overlooking downtown Boise and its string of parks. Today, the Bench's character has changed because of Hewlett-Packard (HP), one of Boise's largest private employers, and the Boise Towne Square Mall.

Divided by Highway 184, the Bench includes the West Bench, dominated by HP and the Boise Towne Square Mall, and the Central Bench, home to quiet bungalows. Boise's largest parks, Ann Morrison Park and Kathryn Albertson Park, are found in the Central Bench. The Boise Train Depot, with its priceless views of downtown Boise and surrounding mountains, and the Stage Coach Theatre, home to entertaining community theater, also call this district home.

Southeast: Micron One word says it all for this southeastern district: Micron. Micron Technology's complex dominates the far eastern corner of this Boise neighborhood. Growing along with Micron, the area has sprouted subdivisions, housing Micron employees, and attractive greenspaces.

Even though the new threatens to overshadow the old here, southeastern Boise is also home to Barber Park, the official beginning for the longtime summer tradition of rafting the Boise River. Boise State University and the picturesque ParkCenter Boulevard are also found in southeastern Boise. ParkCenter hosts many corporate offices, hotels, posh eateries and exclusive Boise River neighborhoods.

Southwest: Big Sky Just across Interstate 84, this southwestern neighborhood unfolds across a high desert plain. There is less of everything in this area, less development, less shopping and less services. The Boise Municipal Airport, Idaho Military History Museum, and National Interagency Fire Center are the tourist highlights.

Growing Pains Southwest Boise also offers little in the way of transportation services. In fact, bus services are limited in Boise, but improving each year. The Boise Urban Stages (BUS) provides a comprehensive route through downtown Boise and the main shopping corridors. Nevertheless, Idahoans, like most Americans, love their cars and until recently traffic jams were unknown.

Growth has actually emphasized Boise's natural features. The imposing Boise Ridge, with its brown mountains reaching about 8,000-feet in height, is more important to Boiseans because of the growth spurt. In the winter residents dash to nearby Bogus Basin for a few hours of night skiing and in the summer Boise's recreation hub, the Boise River and Greenbelt Pathway come alive.

Who would have predicted Boise's growth? From the butt of late night comedians' jokes to repeated listings on best places to live lists, Boise defies classification. Its humble homesteading beginnings continue to be seen in the friendly approach its residents take to visitors. Regardless of its future, Boise will always offer visitors historic and modern neighborhoods that brush up against spectacular scenery.


A lush green valley appeared in front of the early 1800s French-Canadian fur-trappers like an oasis rising out of the dry, brown high desert. Overcome with excitement, they are rumored to have exclaimed "Les Bois! Les Bois!" literally translated as "the wooded" in French. This historic utterance not only named a city, but also established Boise's nickname, "City of Trees."

It wasn't long before the Hudson Bay Company, also drawn to the Boise River's fertile ground, established Fort Boise in 1834, near present-day Parma. The Fort's most famous guests were Oregon Trail emigrants, who after 1,554 miles of traveling arrived at Fort Boise's protective gates. An 1843 emigrant remarked that his stay at the Fort had been "exceedingly polite, courteous, and hospitable."

Overwhelmed by Indian attacks, Fort Boise closed in 1854. Interest in Fort Boise was renewed when gold was discovered in the Boise Basin. A new fort was built in the crossroads of the Oregon Trail and Boise Basin and Owyhee gold mines. With this kind of traffic, Boise prospered and soon became known as a bustling commercial hub.

One German immigrant saw the miners and cowboys tramping through Boise as thirsty customers. Opening his brewery in 1864, John Lemp eventually became known as the "Beer King of Idaho." When he died in 1912, he had lived in Boise longer than any other resident. Today, visitors can stroll along Lemp Street in Boise's North End.

The same year Lemp began peddling his brew, Boise was incorporated and named Idaho's territorial capital. Except for a short decline in population after the end of the gold rush, Boise has been growing ever since. Prosperity brought the need for a federal mint or assay office, and in 1872, after one year of construction, the US Assay Office opened in Boise.

Unfortunately, the good times also brought organized crime and petty criminals. On July 4, 1870 construction for the Idaho Penitentiary began. Local newspapers noted that it was ironic that the end of freedom for many began on Independence Day. Taking more than a decade to complete, the structure was mostly built with convict labor. The prison closed in 1973, but the Old Idaho Penitentiary is open today as a historic landmark and home to the Idaho Botanical Gardens.

Another important edifice, the original brick Capitol building, located between Sixth and Seventh and Jefferson and State streets, was built in 1886. Four years later, Idaho was named a state. Idaho's new government soon outgrew the Capitol, and in 1905 a new building was commissioned. Local sandstone from east Boise's Tablerock Quarry was used as well as convict labor. The sandstone and marble Capitol was completed in 1920, costing tax payers a little over $2 million.

Like many other high desert cities, Boise's growth depended on water. The expanding use of irrigation in the early 1900s brought farming families to the Boise Valley. Plans were made by the Boise Irrigation Project to construct the Arrowrock Dam, at the time the tallest dam in the world, and other Boise River dams.

The early 1900s brought other firsts to Boise. In 1914 Boise welcomed Moses Alexander as Idaho's governor, the first Jewish governor in the United States. Another first in the nation took place in 1926 when Boise received commercial airmail.

One of Boise's most prominent companies also saw its beginnings in the early 1900s. In 1912 Harry W. Morrison and Morris Han Knudson joined forces to start Morrison-Knudsen, an engineering, construction and manufacturing company. Morrison-Knudsen had its hand in some of the century's largest construction projects, including the Hoover Dam, San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Trans Alaska Pipeline.

Always a hospitable host to immigrants, Boise opened its gates in the 1930s to Basque travelers leaving their home in the Western Pyrenees Mountains for America's fortunes. Although the Basque started migrating to Idaho in the 1800s, the 1930s saw the largest migration, making Idaho home to the second largest group of Basque immigrants in the United States.

Even the Great Depression couldn't hold back Boise's growth. Boise State University welcomed its first students in 1932. Joe Albertson opened his first grocery store in Boise in 1939, marking the beginning of Albertson's Supermarkets. J.R. Simplot started processing potatoes in nearby Caldwell in 1941. Today, both Simplot and Albertson's are among Idaho's largest employers.

During World War II, Boise's Gowen Field hosted airmen as they trained for battle. Nearby Mountain Home opened the Mountain Home Air Force Base in 1942. Boise continued to prosper during the years following World War II. In 1957 two smaller lumber companies combined forces, creating Boise Cascade, which today has 2 million acres (8,000 km²) of timberland under its control. It isn't surprising that in 1959 Pete Oleson, president of the local Chambers of Commerce, coined Boise Valley's nickname, the Treasure Valley. He said that the name emphasized the "treasure chest of resources and opportunities in the area."

Boise was slow to respond to the tumultuous 1960s. The first civil rights march did not take place until 1968, after Martin Luther King's assassination. But it didn't take the Boise legislature long to catch on, creating the Idaho Human Rights Commission in 1969.

Boise's past 20 years have seen tremendous growth closely linked with two companies, Hewlett-Packard and Micron Technology. Hewlett-Packard created its Boise Division in 1973, specializing in scanners and printers. Today, it is one of Boise's largest private employers. Founded in 1978, Micron Technology designs and manufactures semiconductor memory components, and is Boise's largest private employer.

While Boise's high-tech industries continue to grow into the 21st century, it is easy to get lost in the busy fast-paced world of corporate culture. Visitors need only stroll through the Pioneer Village to feel Boise's humble beginnings. Compare the rustic cabins to the large Micron complex, and you will appreciate how far Boise has come in a relatively short time. Boise's future, as its past has proven, should be spectacular.


Image:Downtown Boise, Idaho.jpg Boise City is located at 43°36'49" North, 116°14'16" West (43.613739, -116.237651)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 165.7 km² (64.0 mi²). 165.2 km² (63.8 mi²) of it is land and 0.5 km² (0.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.33% water.


2005 figures

The city of Boise, and the general metropolitan area have seen dramatic growth through the 1990s and 2000s. The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) puts Boise's population as of 2005 at just more than 208,000 people [1]. That is up 11 percent from the 2000 Census figures below.

Boise is now the third largest city in the Northwest, behind only Seattle and Portland, and ahead of Spokane and Tacoma. The city of Boise itself (not including the metro) has a greater population than Salt Lake City.

2000 Census

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there are 185,787 people, 74,438 households, and 46,523 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,124.7/km² (2,913.1/mi²). There are 77,850 housing units at an average density of 471.3/km² (1,220.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 92.15% White, 0.77% Black or African American, 0.70% Native American, 2.08% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 1.74% from other races, and 2.39% from two or more races. 4.53% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 74,438 households out of which 32.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% are married couples living together, 10.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% are non-families. 28.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 3.03.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $42,432, and the median income for a family is $52,014. Males have a median income of $36,893 versus $26,173 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,696. 8.4% of the population and 5.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.7% of those under the age of 18 and 6.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Boise is the headquarters of Albertsons, Idaho Power, Micron Technology, Simplot, Washington Group International and WinCo Foods. Hewlett-Packard has a large complex in Boise which specializes in scanners and printers and is one of the largest employers in the area, second only to Micron.

Varney Airlines, founded by Walter Varney was formed in Boise. The company is the root of present day United Airlines, which still serves the city.


The city is home to the Boise School District, which includes 34 elementary schools, 8 junior highs, 5 high schools and 2 specialty schools. Part of the Meridian School District overlap in to Boise city limits.

The city is home to five public high schools: Boise High School, Borah High School, Capital High School, Timberline High School as well as the Meridian district's Centennial High School,and the private Bishop Kelly High School.

Post-secondary educational options in Boise include Boise State University as well as a wide range of technical schools. 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.


Boise is also rich in culture. It is home to the largest concentration of Basque people living outside of the Basque Country (encompassing parts of Spain and France) in the world, numbering about 20,000. There is a large Basque festival (known as Jaialdi) once every 5 years, and a vibrant Basque section of the city. Boise's mayor, David H. Bieter is of Basque descent.

Boise is also a regional hub for jazz and theater. The Gene Harris Jazz Festival is hosted in Boise each spring.

The city is home to a number of museums, including the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Historical Museum and the Discovery Center of Idaho. Several theater groups operate in the city, including the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Boise Little Theatre and the Boise Contemporary Theatre among others.

On the first Thursday of each month, a gallery stroll is hosted in the city's core business district by the Downtown Boise Association.

Major attractions

Image:Boise Idaho.jpg

A number of recreational opportunities are available, including extensive hiking and biking in the foothills to the immediate north of downtown and an extensive urban trail system called the Boise River Greenbelt that runs along the river. The Boise River itself is a common destination for fishing, swimming and rafting.

Bogus Basin Mountain Resort hosts several winter activities, including cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. “Bogus” is just 16 miles outside city limits (less than an hour drive from downtown).

Minor professional sports teams in Boise include the short-season Class A Boise Hawks (Minor League Baseball), the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League, and the Idaho Stampede of the Continental Basketball Association.

The Boise State University campus is home to Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, home to local and national fine arts performances; Bronco Stadium, the 30,000 seat football stadium known for its blue AstroTurf; and Taco Bell Arena, a 12,000 seat basketball and entertainment venue.

The MPC Computers Bowl football game is held in late December of each year, and pairs a team from the Western Athletic Conference with an at-large 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 quality of life.

Boise is serviced by the Boise Air Terminal, located in the Southeastern part of the city.


See also: Boise media

The greater-Boise area is served by two weekly newspapers, two daily newspapers, five commercial television stations, and a variety of other media.


The major highway serving Boise is I-84, with I-184 branching toward the northeast. There is also a network of bike paths throughout the city and surrounding region.

Commercial air service is provided at Boise Air Terminal, recently renovated to accommodate the growing number of passengers flying in and out of Boise. Public bus transportation is provided by ValleyRide and the Boise Urban Stages (BUS).

External links

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