Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Boise, Idaho
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nickname = City of Trees
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motto = Energy Peril Success

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map_caption = Location in Ada County and the state of Idaho

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subdivision_name2 = Ada
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leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = David H. Bieter
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established_title = Founded
established_date = 1863
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area_magnitude = 1 E8
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name = Boise, Idaho

Boise (pronEng|ˈbɔɪsi) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Idaho. It is the county seat of Ada County and the principal city of the Boise metropolitan area. It is the largest city between Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon and thus serves as the primary government, economic, cultural, and transportation center for the area.

As of the 2006 Census Bureau estimates, Boise's population was 198,638 [ Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Idaho, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (SUB-EST2006-04-16)] Accessed 16 July 2007] , with a metropolitan area estimated to have 635,450 inhabitants, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Idaho.


Boise is located at coor dms|43|36|49|N|116|14|16|W|city (43.613739, -116.237651),GR|1 in southwestern Idaho, approximately convert|41|mi|km east of the Oregon border, and convert|110|mi|km north of the Nevada border. The downtown core 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. 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 convert|34|mi|km southwest of Boise, and about convert|26|mi|km southwest of Nampa, the Owyhee Mountains lie entirely in neighboring Owyhee County.

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


Boise's climate is characterized as semi-arid with four distinct seasons. Boise experiences hot and dry summers where temperatures can often exceed convert|100|F|C, as well as cold winters with fair amounts of snowfall. Rainfall is usually infrequent and light, averaging convert|1|in|mm per month. March is the wettest month with an average of convert|1.41|in|mm. August is the driest month with convert|0.30|in|mm of rain. Spring and fall are generally temperate.


It is commonly accepted that the area was referred to as Boise long before the establishment of Fort Boise. However, the exact details of how the name came to be applied to the area differ in the available accounts.

Some credit a story told of Captain B.L.E. Bonneville of the U.S. Army as the source of the name. After trekking for weeks through dry and rough terrain, his exploration party reached an overlook with a view of the Boise River Valley. The place where they stood is called Bonneville Point, and is located on the Oregon Trail east of the city. According to the story, a French-speaking guide, overwhelmed by the sight of the verdant river, yelled "Les bois! Les bois!" giving the area the name.

But the name "Boise" may actually derive from earlier mountain man usage, which contributed their naming of the river that flows through it. In the 1820s, French Canadian fur trappers set trap lines in the vicinity where Boise now lies. In a high desert area, the tree-lined valley of the Boise River became a prominent landmark. They called this "La rivière boisée", which means "the wooded river." []

The original Fort Boise was 40 miles (64 km) west, down the Boise River, near the confluence with the Snake River at the Oregon border. This fort 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 and a major road connecting the Boise Basin (Idaho City) and the Owyhee mining areas. Both areas were booming at the time. Idaho City was the largest city in the area, and as a staging area to Idaho City, Fort Boise grew rapidly. Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864. The first capital of the Idaho Territory was Lewiston, but Boise replaced it in 1865.

The U.S. Assay Office at 210 Main Street was built in 1871 and is a National Historic Landmark.


Boise has grown considerably in recent years and is now comparable in size to other mid-size cities at the center of their own metropolitan areas in the United States. Comparable cities are Grand Rapids, Des Moines and Providence. []

As of the census of 2000,GR|2 there were 185,787 people, 74,438 households, and 46,523 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,913.1/sq mi (1,124.7/km²). There were 77,850 housing units at an average density of 1,220.7/mi² (471.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.15% White, 0.77% 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.53% of the population.

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

In the city the population was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,432, and the median income for a family was $52,014. Males had a median income of $36,893 versus $26,173 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,696. About 5.9% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or older.


Boise frequently receives national recognition for its quality of life and business climate. Some recent national rankings:

* Best places for business and careers: # 3 (Forbes Magazine, 2007) [Citation | title = Best Places For Business And Careers | last =Badenhausen | first = Kurt | newspaper = | date = April 5, 2007 | url= | accessdate = 2007-08-15. ]

* Urban environment report card: # 6 (Earth Day Network, 2007) [Citation | title = Urban Environment Report | newspaper = Earth Day Network | date = 2007 | url = | accessdate = 16 August 2007. ] [Citation | title = Earth Day Network Releases 2007 Urban Environment Report | newspaper = Earth Day Network | date = 22 February 2007 | url =
accessdate = 2007-08-16.

* Boomtowns: Hottest cities for entrepreneurs (midsize cities): # 9 (, 2007) [Citation | title = Boomtowns 2007 (article) | newspaper = | date = May 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-18. ] [Citation | title = Boomtowns 2007 (list) | newspaper = | date = May 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-18. ]

* Most secure places to live (500,000 or more residents): # 1 (Farmers Insurance 2006) [Citation | title = Third Annual Farmers Insurance Study Ranks Most Secure U.S. Places to Live | newspaper = Farmers Insurance Group | date = 6 December 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-18. ]


Boise is the headquarters for several major companies, such as URS Corp. Washington Division (formerly Washington Group International, formerly Morrison-Knudsen), Boise Cascade LLC, New Albertsons Inc., Albertsons LLC, J.R. Simplot Company, Idaho Pacific Lumber Company, Idaho Timber Corporation, WinCo Foods and Hewlett Packard's printer division. 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 [Citation | title = Growth drives a hot economy | newspaper = Idaho Statesman | date = 25 November 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-15. ] publicly traded and headquartered company in Boise is Micron Technology (nyse2|MU). Others include IDACORP, Inc. (nyse2|ida), the parent company of Idaho Power, Idaho Bancorp (nyse2|IDA), Boise, Inc. (nyse2|BZ), American Ecology Corp. (nasdaq2|ECOL), PCS Inc. (nasdaq2|PCSV) and Syringa Bancorp.

Technology investment and the high-tech industry have become increasingly important to the city, with businesses including,, MobileDataForce, MarkMonitor, Sybase, Kayako, and Microsoft. The call center industry is also a major sources of employment; there are over 20 call centers in the city employing more than 7,000 people, including Teleperformance, DIRECTV and T-Mobile. [Citation | title = Call-center industry rises here | newspaper = Spokane Journal of Business | date = 12 January 2001 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-15. ] .

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 at the newly renovated and upgraded Boise Airport.


The Boise School District includes 30 elementary schools, 8 junior high schools, 5 high schools and 2 specialty schools. Part of the Meridian School District (the largest district in Idaho) overlaps into Boise city limits.

The city is home to six 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 alternative Mountain Cove High School. Boise's private schools include Bishop Kelly High School (Catholic), Foothills School of Arts and Sciences and Baccalaureate accredited Riverstone International School.

Post-secondary educational options in Boise include Boise State University and George Fox University, as well as a wide range of technical schools. University of Idaho and Idaho State University each maintain a satellite campus in Boise. 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. Nearby Meridian is home to a campus of the University of Phoenix and neighboring towns Nampa and Caldwell boast Northwest Nazarene University and The College of Idaho respectively.

Boise is one of the largest cities in the United States that does not have a community college. The issue has received a fair amount of attention from city and state officials in recent years. As of May 2007 a community college special district was formed, with the intention of starting a community college in Nampa, Idaho. []


, 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 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 an Egyptian Theatre. In the Fall season, Downtown Boise hosts a film festival called Idaho International Film Festival.

The Boise Centre on the Grove is an convert|85000|sqft|m2|sing=on 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. [ [ City of Boise - Parks - Home Page ] ] It features live fish and wildlife exhibits, viewing areas into the water, bird and butterfly gardens, waterfalls, and a free visitor's center.

The Jewish community's Ahavath Beth Israel Temple, completed 1896, is the nation's oldest continually-used temple on the western side of the Mississippi.

Boise (along with Valley and Boise Counties) will host the Winter 2009 Special Olympics World Games. More than 2,500 athletes from over 85 countries will participate. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008]

Famous residents

*J.R. Simplot, founder of J.R. Simplot Company
*Joe Albertson, founder of Albertsons Inc.
*Jake Plummer, professional football player
*Gene Harris, jazz musician
*Frank Church, United States Senator
*Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
*William Petersen, television series actor
*Torrie Wilson, model ,entertainer and Former WWE diva
*Kristine Sutherland, television series actress
*Curtis Stigers, musician and songwriter
*Thom Pace, musician and songwriter
*Robert Adler, inventor
*Mark Gregory Hambley, U.S. Ambassador
*Glen A. Holden, U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica
*Reginald Owen, English character actor
*Robert E. Smylie, Governor of Idaho
*Gary L. Stevens, jockey
*Michael Hoffman, movie director and co-founder of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival
*Howard W. Hunter, 14th president of Mormon faith
*Kristin Armstrong, 2008 Cycling Olympic Gold Medalist


Major attractions

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 that 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 expected to include lions and giraffes is currently under construction, slated to open in late 2008.

Bogus Basin Mountain Resort hosts several winter activities, including cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. “Bogus” is just 16 miles (26 km) 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 ECHL, and the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League. An arenafootball2 franchise, the Boise Burn, began play in 2007.

On the sports entertainment front, Boise is also the home of a DIY all-female, flat track roller derby league, the Treasure Valley Rollergirls.

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 30,000 seat football 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 an Atlantic Coast 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 greater-Boise area is served by two daily newspapers, "The Idaho Statesman" and the "Idaho Press-Tribune;" a free weekly publication, the "Boise Weekly"; three city magazines, "Boise Metropolitan", "Boise Journal" and "Boise Home"; weekly business publications; 5 commercial TV stations, a PBS station; and a number of radio stations. For more see Media in Boise, Idaho.

ister cities

*flagicon|Basque Country Guernica (also Gernika), Basque Country, Spain
*flagicon|Russia Chita (Eastern Siberia)


The major Interstate serving Boise is I-84, with Highway 55 branching toward the northeast. There is also a network of bike paths throughout the city and surrounding region.

Public transportation includes a series of bus lines operated by ValleyRide. Also, the Downtown Circulator, a streetcar, is in its planning stage.

Commercial air service is provided at the Boise Airport, 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).

Parts of the city

Boise has an average population and is still growing, Boise occupies a large area — 64 sq mi 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

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 [ [ Boise Towne Square ] ] (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 [ [ Downtown Boise Association - Alive After Five ] ] and First Thursday [ [ Downtown Boise Association - First Thursday ] ] have been created to combat this trend.

The North End

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 [ [ City of Boise - Parks - Home Page ] ] . 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. The American Planning Association (APA) is designating Boise's North End one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2008.

outhwest Boise

Southwest Boise has traditionally been known for its more bucolic aesthetics. It 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 due to a moratorium on new construction to prevent 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

Northwest Boise lies blanketed against the Boise Foothills to the north, the major thoroughfare State Street to the south, the city of Eagle to the west, and Downtown Boise to the east. It contains an eclectic 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, yet housing prices tend to be lower. Downtown is minutes away, as is Veteran's Memorial Park [ [ City of Boise - Parks - Home Page ] ] 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

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.

East End

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.

outh East Boise

South East 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 South East Boise was developed in the last thirty years with suburban style homes. Unlike the more typical flat suburban sprawl, residents of South East 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. Columbia Village and the older subdivision Oregon Trail Heights, were the first major planned communities in South East Boise with an elementary and middle school all within walking distance from all homes. Developed with the middle carved out for schools and a large soccer complex (over 20 fields), as well as a baseball complex, swimming pools, and the best view in the valley. Most 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. The subdivision is located at the intersections of Interstate 84, Idaho 21, and Federal Way (former US Highway), which are all major arteries to get anywhere in Boise. On August 25th, 2008 at about 7:00 pm a fire started near Amity and Holcomb during a major wind storm and destroyed 10 houses and damaged 9. A linguistics professor at Boise State University lost her life in the fire.

The Boise Bench

The Boise Bench is south of Downtown Boise and is raised in elevation approximately convert|60|ft|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 3 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, [] raised up on another "bench".

West Boise

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. Hewlett Packard's Printing Division is located here. It is relatively the flatest section of Boise, with sweeping views of the Boise Front.

About the name

Origin of name

The name "Boise" comes from the French word "boisé," which means "wooded". Many people assume that it means "tree", but the French word for "tree" is "arbre", whereas the word "bois" means "wood". One legend claims that French-Canadian fur trappers of the early 1800s came over the mountains looked down upon the Boise River Valley and exclaimed "Les bois!" (the wood!), and that this is also how Boise gained its nickname 'The City of Trees'. In actuality, the name was apparently a translation of an earlier English name for the Boise River, the Wood River. Wood River was traditionally called Pine River, but was changed in 1867. Fact|date=July 2008

19th Century maps of the Boise River. [ [ The Boise River on Early Maps ] ]


Natives and generally those who have lived in the area for a period of time use the pronunciation of "Boise", insisting that IPA|bɔɪsi ("Boy-See") (pronounced with a light 's') is the only correct pronunciation. Non-natives often pronounce it incorrectly with a heavy 's' or 'z' sound ("Boy-Zee"). According to the official city website, the correct way to say Boise is IPA|bɔɪsi ("Boy-See"). [ [ About Boise ] ]

Photo gallery


Further reading

*cite book|author=MacGibbon, Elma|title=Leaves of knowledge|publisher=Shaw & Borden Co|year=1904 [ Available online through the Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History collection] Elma MacGibbons reminiscences of her travels in the United States starting in 1898, which were mainly in Oregon and Washington. Includes chapter "Boise, the capital of Idaho."

External links

* [ City of Boise]
* [ Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau]
* [ Boise Area Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Boise News, Traffic, Cams]
* [ Boise, the City of Trees]
* [ Capital City Development Corp., Boise's redevelopment agency]
* [ Idaho Statesman]
* [ Boise Weekly]
* [ Boise Journal and Boise Home]
* [ Idaho News from KTVB]
* [ ValleyRide - public transit]
* [ Ridge to Rivers Trail System]
* [ Reinventing Boise]
* [ Boise City Guide]
* [ Boise New Community Guide]

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