Julia Davis Park
Boise takes its nickname “The City of Trees” very seriously -- besides the tree-lined streets of its downtown, the city hosts over a hundred different parks. The oldest and most famous of these parks is Julia Davis Park, which is only fifteen minutes away from the Idaho State Capitol Building and most Boise ID real estate. Residents from all over the Treasure Valley come to Boise to enjoy Julia Davis Park.
The Story of Tom and Julia
Julia Davis is a 89.4 acre park in the center of Downtown Boise, which was created in 1907 as a land donation by the Thomas Davis, one of Boise’s founding fathers. Originally a 43-acred gift, the story of Julia Davis Park is one of Boise’s most esteemed tales.
During the 1862 Boise Basin Gold Rush, Ohio brothers Thomas and Francis Davis came to the Idaho territory to stake their claim. Though the gold was less than lucrative, the Davis' became especially wealthy farmers. Thomas purchased large tracts of Boise ID real estate, as well as Idaho’s first water right, to make one of the first agricultural businesses in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Tom Davis was recorded as making a return of ten thousand dollars on his first apple crop. With the news of Boise’s irrigation, many people came to settle in the flourishing Idaho community.
These settlers included Miss Julia McCrum, who traveled to Boise in 1869 after leaving her parents’ home in Ontario, Canada. Julia and Thomas were introduced, and eventually married in 1871. As two of the most esteemed members of the Boise community, both Thomas and Julia continued to build and attract people into the Boise area.
Julia, like Thomas, was known for her generous nature, and would often assist those traveling through Boise along the Oregon Trail. It is suspected that the last man she helped in September, 1907, was a carrier of Typhoid Fever. She passed away later that month, two months before Julia Davis Park was created.
The Davis' had attempted to give a part of their land to the city in 1899, but the offer was declined due to Boise’s concern over the cost of managing the land. A second offer was made in February of 1907, and was accepted in the following November, after Julia’s death. Thomas had just two stipulations for the land -- that it was to be always used as a public park for the residents and guest of Boise, and that the park was named in honor of Julia. The deed was bought by the city for just one dollar, and Julia Davis Park has been a state treasure ever since.
There is So Much to Do at Julia Davis Park!
Julia Davis is one of the most heavily trafficked parks in Boise. The park has long, rolling acres of green space and large trees, as well as access to the Boise River. This major Treasure Valley waterway is one of the most scenic features in the area, due to its alpine waters and lush surrounding landscape. The large amount of land in Julia Davis Park is often used for city events -- Art in the Park, for example; a three-day, open-air festival held annually in September, where artists from all over the Pacific Northwest come to display and sell their work to the public.
However, Julia Davis Park is not only devoted to its outdoor spaces. This park is also home to no less than four of Boise’s museums (Including the Boise Art Museum, nationally renown facility and the head of Art in the Park), the Idaho Rose Society and Garden, and the Zoo Boise.
The Zoo Boise was founded in 1916, just eight years after the death of Thomas Davis. Its first inhabitants were a flock of rare, exotic birds donated by the local Sportsman Club, as well as a lost circus chimpanzee. However, today the Zoo Boise is Idaho’s leading public zoo and houses more than 200 different animals of more than 80 different species. Furthermore, unlike nearly 90% of zoo institutions in the United States, the Zoo Boise has been accredited with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums due to its superior animal care, education programs, visitor accommodation, and grounds.
Another museum in Julia Davis is the Discovery Center of Idaho. Originally a traveling science show in 1986, the Discovery Center was eventually established due to the overwhelming popularity of the event. Now, this facility has about 200 exhibits, and is open year-round with fascinating exhibits about the application of scientific principles. The center also hosts larger, touring displays, such as the famous Bodies Revealed presentation, or the current showcase on Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions.
Future Plans of Julia Davis
Julia Davis may be the oldest park in Boise, but it isn't archaic. Public work projects continue to be added to the area, for the be local benefit. This includes the Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza, and more nodes for Boise River as to better appreciate the river’s fine beauty.
Whoever you are, Julia Davis Park is a fun, interesting place to spend the day. Spend a few hours in Boise’s most popular park and see what you can do!
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