Boise is not an ancient city, nor is it a new city. It isn't a big city, or a small city. Boise, however, has many old and beautiful relics, buildings and landmarks. The city was first a fort and then became an official city in 1863. In those early years, and even today, expansion and industry has been fruitful. Though not all the buildings from that day are being used, they are still a testament to the great and old metropolis that Boise is.
When you are in downtown Boise and look to the south, high on the hill at the corner of Federal Way and Vista Avenue, the Boise Depot stands erect. It is one of the great Union Pacific Railway stations of the early 1900's. It was build by architects from New York and was opened for business in 1925. When it opened, thousands of people came to see. At that point it was claimed to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the northwest.
Down the hill from the Depot are the Platt Gardens. These gardens are a gorgeous landscape of rocks, trees, bushes and even a Koi pond. This is a beautiful garden for the train station which was likely the center of activity in the valley.
The Depot was in service for only seventy or so years. It closed down in the middle of the 1990's. Since then, the city has purchased it and registered it as a historical structure. The Depot is now a tourist spot and also a venue which can be rented for special events. The Depot and its grounds are a popular backdrop for pictures.
At the eastern end of Boise, just at the base of the foothills is the Old Penitentiary. This Penitentiary was first built in 1872 and served as the prison for the area until 1973. The inmates of this prison were both men and women from all walks of life. When they were incarcerated at the prison, they were put to work, first at building the wall around the prison which they quarried from the nearby sandstone. Aside from the wall, the prison also employed the inmates to make various objects: such as shirts, shoes, and licence plates.
The Penitentiary housed, approximately 13,000 inmates in the century that it was in operation. Ten of them were executed within it's walls. Due to unfair living conditions, there were two riots at the prison. One in 1971 and another in 1973 just before the prisoners were moved to a the new modernized prison.
Though it isn't the prettiest site, the penitentiary is a register historical site and gets hundreds of visitors a year. This old relic is a piece straight out of the history books. When you walk in it's doors you almost step back in time to the wild wild west.
Old boise is a section of downtown that is merely a sliver of the old glory of Boise. The buildings that stand in old boise are over one hundred years old. Exploration through old Boise is a great time to remember those who came before, and to commemorate their lives and efforts.
The Pioneer Tent Building is a great example of Old Boise Charm. The building was constructed in 1910 as a store that sold tents, awnings, and other outdoor sporting goods. The building has been renovated since then and now is home to several local restaurants.
The Old Boise Fire Station is another of the old relics in Old Boise. The fire station stands on the grounds of the previous fire station, which, ironically, burned down. The two story brick building was able to house the full-time firefighters when the city made their switch from volunteer firefighters to full-time employees.
One of the largest relics of Boise is the Capital Building. Boise is the Idaho State Capitol, and as such gets to have the magnificent Capitol Building at its heart. The building is made of sandstone from the surrounding hills and was for the longest time the tallest thing in Boise. The Capitol has, since it's completion in the early 1900's been the center of Idaho's legislative and executive branches of government. This building is of paramount importance as far as historical, and even current, value. This building has been the means of supplying Idaho's citizens with a democratic means of having their voices heard.
Even though the past is history, here in Boise Idaho, there are still gateways to the past. You too can learn about the past in these great and marvelous relics of Boise past.