Boise, Idaho, has been called the best place for millennials to live in the US.

Clearwater Analytics in downtown Boise, Idaho (Patrick Rodriguez)
Clearwater Analytics in downtown Boise, Idaho (Patrick Rodriguez)

Boise, is the capital and largest city in Idaho, U.S., and the county seat (1864) of Ada county. It lies along the Boise River in the southwestern part of the state. Because mountains to the north protect it from the Canadian blizzards, Boise has relatively mild winters, as well as hot, dry summers.

Downtown Boise is the cultural center and home to many small businesses and a few mid-rises. The area has a variety of shops and dining choices. Centrally, 8th Street contains a pedestrian zone with sidewalk cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood has many local restaurants, bars and boutiques and supports a vibrant nightlife. The area contains the Basque Block, which showcases Boise’s Basque heritage. Downtown Boise’s main attractions include the Idaho State Capitol, the classic Egyptian Theatre on the corner of Capitol Boulevard and Main Street, the Boise Art Museum on Capitol in front of Julia Davis Park, and Zoo Boise on the grounds of Julia Davis Park.

Jack's Urban Meeting Place and the JR Simplot World Headquarters
Jack’s Urban Meeting Place and the JR Simplot World Headquarters (Patrick Rodriguez).

What to Know About Boise

  • Boise is a midsize Pacific Northwest city and capital of Idaho.
  • Its population grew by 18.2% from 2010 to 2018, and Forbes named it the fastest-growing city in the US in 2018.
  • Despite the reported increase in traffic, Boise residents’ average commute to work is just over 18 minutes, compared with the US average of 26.4 minutes.
  • Most out-of-state newcomers are coming from California, followed by Washington state and Utah.
  • Many parts of downtown Boise have a funky, artsy vibe.
  • Microbreweries, luxury condos, and Brooklyn-esque coffee shops are popping up in this Pacific Northwest city of 229,000 people.
  • The Idaho capital has become a desirable place to live for millennials, as well as the best US city to buy a house.
  • The World Center for Birds of Prey is just outside the city, 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 breeding the rare California condor, among many other rare and endangered species.
  • Boise’s downtown is integrated with nature, with the foothills rising to the north and the Boise River flowing through the heart of the city, along which is a 25-mile stretch of tree-lined trails called the Greenbelt.
  • Many people get around downtown on a bicycle.
  • Boise is the site of the only human rights memorial in the U.S., the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, located next to its main library.
  • Boise also has a thriving performing arts community. The Boise Philharmonic, now in its 49th season, under the leadership of Music Director and Conductor Robert Franz continues to grow musically, and introduces excellent guest artists and composers year after year.
Foothills view of Boise, (Image WikiCommons in Fall 2013)
Foothills view of Boise, (Image WikiCommons in Fall 2013)

Time Line of Events

  • 1834 British fur traders working for the Hudson’s Bay Company establish the first Fort Boise at the mouth of the Boise River, some 40 miles west of today’s city.
  • 1860s In the wake of the 1862 Boise Basin gold rush, the U.S. Army moves Fort Boise to the city’s current location in
  • 1863 and the original Boise townsite is laid out.
  • 1864 Boise is incorporated in 1864 and declared the capital of Idaho Territory.
  • 1890 Idaho achieves statehood with Boise as its capital.
  • 1925 Direct rail service to Boise begins with the opening of the city’s Union Pacific Depot.
  • 1936-37 The federal Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructs the Boise Gallery of Art (now Boise Art Museum) in Julia Davis Park.
  • 1942 The Bogus Basin ski area northeast of Boise opens.
  • 1968 The plan for the Boise River Greenbelt trail is adopted.
  • 1977 The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is founded in Boise.
  • 1990s Boise becomes a major resettlement site for refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
  • 2009 Boise and other Idaho venues host the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
  • 2013 Boise celebrates its sesquicentennial.
  • 2016 The construction of the underground public transportation hub (UPT Hub) in Boise in the parking lot site near the intersection of W Main Street and N 8th Street was completed.
  • 2020 A large Basque festival known as Jaialdi is held once every five years. Idaho’s ethnic Basque community is one of the largest in the United States, on the order of nearly 7,000 people in 20,00, many of whom live in Boise.

Early-spring blossoms frame the Idaho State Capitol Building in downtown Boise. Modeled on the national Capitol, the Idaho state-house is the only one in the nation heated with geothermal water.

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