For the past five months we have delved into three Boise neighborhoods. The City of Boise approached our Community and Regional Planning graduate program with one broad task: help us understand how to increase and build neighborhood capacity. Provided with three different (and surprisingly similar) neighborhoods, we began a process that would be tiring, frustrating and most importantly, rewarding.
Boise was settled and developed as an agricultural community. It all started with canals, water and trees of course.
Once early-settlers were able to construct irrigation trenches facilitating orchards and family farms, expansion west of what had been known as Boise’s core, was foreseeable. Next, came the Inter-Urban Railway. With the intention of quick and efficient access to and from agricultural areas the Inter-Urban Railway was crucial in Boise’s expansion west. Just three miles west of the urban center of Boise, Collister Neighborhood was formed as an agriculturally-based community. However, the allure of commerce coupled with this new expansion threatened a vital part of Boise’s cultural foundation: agriculture. Continue reading
Boise’s Morris Hill Neighborhood has a rich history, including having the Western Idaho fairgrounds located within its boundaries from 1902 to 1967. The annual Western Idaho Fair was a cultural event that drew large crowds and excitement to the Morris Hill area, providing residents with the opportunity to socialize and enjoy the events. The fair continues to this day in its current location on Glenwood Street. The Morris Hill Neighborhood shares its eastern boundary with the Morris Hill Cemetery, established in January of 1882 which makes it one of the oldest cemeteries in Boise. This cemetery also has a long history, and is the final resting place of some notable characters in Idaho’s history – among them, Joseph A. Albertson, Moses Alexander and Frank Church. Although the Morris Hill Cemetery serves its original purpose, it also creates a valuable green space for the surrounding neighborhoods. The cemetery has persisted, more or less, unchanged since its original development, but the surrounding area has changed drastically. Originally the cemetery was considered to be on the outskirts of town, but as time went on Boise continued to annex outward. Both of these places are important as they provide a historic identity to the Morris Hill Neighborhood. Only one of these places remain today, but imagine how different Morris Hill would look had the fairgrounds stayed.
The wave of urban renewal as it was known during the 1950’s and 1960’s saw a lot of historic structures torn down. After the fact, many towns realized the importance of these historic structures. Out of this era of urban renewal came the evolution of the historic district. There was a handful of cities that had their own form of historic preservation districts before the 1960’s. The first one being Charleston, South Carolina in 1931. What got the ball rolling was a study done by the Providence Preservation Society that was able to partner with the Providence City Plan Commission to produce a study of the College Hill area: 318 acres and 1700 buildings, including most of the city’s original 17th-century settlement. The resulting 1959 report — College Hill: A Demonstration Study of Historic Area Renewal — forwarded a new intent: “…to develop methods and techniques for a program of preservation, rehabilitation and renewal in a historic area which can serve as a guide for other areas with similar problems.” It was one of the only areas during the urban renewal era to decide to rehabilitate areas instead of clear areas of blight. Continue reading
Exposition of 1893, which was held in Chicago and often referred to as the “White City” due to the coating of white paint on all the buildings. Director of Construction Daniel H. Burnham brought in architects with backgrounds and training in the Beaux-Arts style to design the buildings of the city, the beautiful main court and, the open green spaces, all precepts of the City Beautiful Movement which stood in stark contrast to the urban blight of Chicago in the 1800s. Continue reading
The Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was Walt Disney’s unrealized dream. Sure, there’s a place called EPCOT down there in Orlando located within the vast city-unto-itself of Walt Disney World, but it isn’t Walt’s EPCOT. It aims in the same direction, but misses the mark by several yards. How so? Because Walt’s idea wasn’t a theme-park that resembled a City of Tomorrow, it was a City of Tomorrow that just happened to be planned near his theme parks. It was an actual plan for a technologically forward and green society that could be the model for the rest of the United States. The vision was huge – Walt didn’t do small. Interestingly enough, the idea wasn’t altogether new (then or now). In fact, Disney owes a great deal of his imagined City of Tomorrow to Ebenezer Howard and folks like Le’Corbusier’s Radiant City. We can’t talk about the future without talking about the past, it seems, and these imagineers seem to make that point clear. Lets take a look at some really nifty links, videos and articles that draw a line from the Garden Cities of Howard to the imagined implementations of the Disney age (and beyond), and other designs that have seen a similar influence.
Oh, and, please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times – for your safety, of course! Continue reading