As part of a series on city life, the focus of this gallery is on the North End, an historical hub of activity in Boise. North Boise spreads like a V from the Fort Street cottonwood cabin where John and Mary O’Farrell built the city’s first permanent home. Bounded by State Street and the Boise foothills, the triangle opens toward Eagle. Its ten neighborhoods subdivide into 546 subdivisions with 14 public schools, 9 city parks and 5 city fire stations. Twenty- two blocks along Franklin and Hays form a Near North historic district. Nearby is historic Hyde Park where gentrification has created a tourist district. Harrison Boulevard, a third historic district, funnels skiers to Bogus Basin. Known for arching trees and zealous trick-or-treaters, the boulevard is an elegant mix of eclectic housing style.

The North’s first subdivisions bordered the cavalry fort. In 1891, when President Benjamin Harrison visited to celebrate Idaho’s statehood, Boiseans landscaped 18th Street and renamed it Harrison Boulevard. Electric streetcars reached Hyde Park in 1892. West State Street became a Boise-to-Caldwell railroad. Boardwalks and service alleys paralleled streetcars.

Gridded but uneven, the North End emerged as a mix of gingerbread Victorians and kit-made catalog homes. In 1905, on Harrison at Eastman, Tourtellotte designed his firm’s last corner turret. The California Mission Revival reached Boise in the redroofed George Washington Bond House, completed in 1911. English cottages and the Tudor Revival gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Homebuyers with modest resources came to prefer a space-efficient, functional, low-roofed style of working-class housing called the California Craftsman Bungalow.

Gallery: Quintessential North

Photos from Quintessential Boise: An Architectural Journey


About Quintessential Boise: An Architectural Journey, a 2010 book by Charles Hummel and Tim Woodward

Quintessential Boise is dedicated to the proposition that streets and their buildings are keys to the life of a city and that good architecture, like good books, should engage the public in readable and provocative ways. The book emerged from coffee-house conversations among an architect, a newspaper columnist, a newspaper reporter and a history professor. Charles Hummel, the architect, is the son, grandson and nephew of men who designed some of Boise’s most iconic landmarks. A legendary designer himself, Hummel, age 85, thinks deeply about how people use and appreciate buildings. Tim Woodward, the columnist, has been a champion of authentic places since his early reporting on Boise’s urban renewal in 1972. Reporter Jeanne Huff worked closely with Hummel and Woodward to identify object lessons. Todd Shallat, the historian, is a student of the physical layout of streets. Together, the team set out to devise a rating system for understanding the social impact of architecture.

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University or the School of Public Service.