Most of us know of the legend where the famous Bonneville expedition who journeyed for weeks over rough terrain and happened on the Boise River Valley. It is said that the French guide who was overwhelmed with the beautiful scenery of the Boise Valley yelled with excitement “Les Bois! Les Bois!” Meaning “the trees! The trees!”
However, this is said to be a legend for the fact that the Boise River Valley was named well before the Bonneville expeditions happened upon the Boise Valley. Where Boise now lies the French fur trappers of the 1820’s set traps and therefore Boise became the center for trading between the new people of the west and the native americans.
The people of the land called a popular landmark the La Riviere Boise which means “wooded river.” La Riviere Boise was the area of Boise were the trees lined the Boise River Valley. Other parts of the area were high desert. Although, the connection between the Bonneville legend and the name of the city may be bogus or just a legend one thing is clear Boise had its name way before the creation of Fort Boise.
The neighborhood of the North End of Boise began in 1878 and is now today’s oldest and most historic homes. The homes vary from Queen Anne homes to cottage bungalows. The area is full of tree lined streets and the entire residential district is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The North End has a lay out of a V and goes from Fort Street cottonwood cabin which John and Mary O’Farrell constructed the first permanent home in Boise. From the year of 1890 to the year 1950, the North End of Boise was known as a remote part of town. In the 1970’s it became the place to live. Harrison Blvd is one of Boise’s most picturesque streets was important to the growth of the North End. Harrison Blvd was renamed from 17th Street in honor of President Benjamin Harrison who had come to sign the Admissions Act which made Idaho a state. In 1916 the median parkway with trees and street lights were added to the blvd.
Streetcars reached Hyde Park by 1892 and boardwalks and service alleys were side by side with the streetcar lines. This lead to most of the first homes in the 20th century that were built on Harrison Blvd. Each of the owners trying to outdo the latest style of home. This resulted in a great row of beautiful variance of architectural styles. Boise saw a continuous growth through the 1960s due to this the North End housing began to decline. The homes that were built on the blvd including the Queen Anne’s began to be turned into apartments to help with the student growth in the city due to the Junior College being close by. This brought the population of the city from 34,000 to 75,000 in a small ten year time frame. The North End Neighborhood Association did not like this change and formed a way to keep the area a historical section of town.
The North End of Boise has the best Culture and you will be able to enjoy blocks of charming neighborhood streets even today. There are several attracts that have been around for a century or more, for example, Hyde Park which is compiled of many centrally located streets that have coffee shops, restaurants, and small shops. Hyde Park also has its annual street fair. For those into sports, there is boating, camping, canoeing, cycling, football, golfing, mountain biking and skiing. Winding bike and hiking trails are found in the close by Foothills and Bogus Basin Ski Resort is a short thirty minute drive.
The North End makes every festive a grand old time. It is known for its festivities on the 31st of October and New Years has become huge in the area with the addition of the new Idaho Potato Drop, which happens at the State Capital. The winter festivities are also grand on Harrison Blvd, as everyone gets in the spirit of the festivities and puts up festive lights on the old historic homes.
Hyde Park also participates in the festivities with an annual Candle lantern lighting. The Candle Lantern Festival is an old tradition since 2004 and is an annual festive that takes place in the Historic Hyde Park. The festival is open to all ages and promises to have activities for everyone through the night. Some of the activities that have been held at the festival are Random Ladies singers, the candle lantern parade up, and 13th Street.
So go out soak up the sun rays and enjoy a day in the North Ends, enjoying the outdoors, shopping and relaxations of its restaurants. Boise has continually been named as the top ten lists in the country. The North End specifically is known for its laid back living, finding lots of excitement.