It wasn’t always so.
Boise architect and president of the Boise Civic Improvement Association, Charles Wayland, first proposed turning 7th Street into a grand entrance boulevard to the City of Boise. That was in 1914. The proposal was almost an afterthought to his larger idea of channeling the Boise River. Wayland envisioned “saddle paths, footpaths, and parkways” following the course of the newly controlled river with residential areas opening up in what had been floodways. Does that sound a little like today’s Boise Greenbelt?
It wasn’t until 1925 that city officials began to get serious about building that grand entrance. That was the year the new Boise Depot was built, dominating the skyline on the bench directly in front of the capitol building. Those striking architectural icons just begged to have a mile-long boulevard between them. New York architects Carrere and Hastings who designed the mission–style depot pushed for a grand promenade to visually and physically connect the two buildings. A municipal bond made it all happen, with the completion of the Capitol Boulevard Bridge in 1931.
Keeping the view down Capitol Boulevard free from intruding buildings, business signs, and a tangle of traffic control devices has been a constant struggle ever since. It’s a struggle that hasn’t always been won (I’m looking at you, US Bank building), but keeping a vigilant eye on what happens on the boulevard is worth doing to preserve the city’s “grand promenade.”