Skip to main content

Capitol Boulevard

Capitol Boulevard, courtesy of Humanitat - see description for details

In 1914, architect Charles Wayland proposed a grand promenade on 7th Street at the foot of the rising Idaho Statehouse. The plan, said the Idaho Statesman, would “beautify Boise and control [the] river without cost.” In 1925, the coming of the railroad’s mainline revived the boulevard plan. Construction began with a municipal bound. In 1931, the Capitol Boulevard Memorial Bridge span the river at 7th Street, completing the mile link from the depot to statehouse. Pictured: Capitol Boulevard, courtesy of Humanitat.

Idaho capitol

Construction of Idaho’s Statehouse began in 1905 and was completed in 1920. Designed by architects Tourtellote and Hummel, the building was constructed in two phases. Intended to be the focal point of the boulevard, the building was designed to imitate the nation’s capitol in Washington D.C. The bulk of construction, including the main block and dome, was finished in 1912. The wings on either side of the main block that house the Senate and House chambers were completed in 1920. Other buildings worthy of note designed by these two architects are St. John’s Cathedral in Boise and the Administration Building at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

View from capital dome - see description for details

“View from the Capitol Dome with Capitol Park in foreground.” Taken from the dome of the Statehouse, this photo illustrates the spacious, grand approach up to the Statehouse from Capitol Boulevard.

Boise Depot

The Boise Train Depot, constructed in the California Mission-style, was completed in 1925 in time for Boise’s first mainline train service. Born out of the City Beautiful movement, New York architects Carrere and Hastings envisioned a grand promenade which would connect the statehouse to their mission-style train depot. Today the depot is owned by the City of Boise and is still one of Boise’s most visible landmarks.

View down capital blvd

Looking down Capitol Boulevard from Platt Gardens (Depot). Such an unobstructed view of the Statehouse from the Depot is what architects and city planners had intended for the boulevard from its inception.

Poster for Oregon Trail Memorial Bridge

The Oregon Trail Memorial Bridge. This 310 foot cast concrete bridge, constructed by Morrison-Knudsen, opened for use in 1931. The bridge, which spans the Boise River, provided the essential link between the two hallmarks of Capitol Boulevard, the State Capitol and the Union Pacific Train Depot.

Postcard for Bob’s Auto Park

One of many lodgings that cropped up along Capitol Boulevard, Bob’s Auto Park consisted of a complex of cabins, a gas station, and a grocery store. Conveniently located near the river and downtown Boise, the auto-park served many adventurous American families who took to the roads in the 1920s, as automobiles became popular and affordable.
Date: Image taken from postcard printed circa 1920s.

Egyptian Theater

Ada Theater (Egyptian Theater). The Egyptian Theater, designed by Fritz Hummel, exemplifies the 1920s Egyptian Revival style that swept the nation after the discovery of King Tutankamen’s tomb. The theater opened in April 1927 with John Barrymore as “Don Juan.”

Boise Art Gallery

Known today as BAM—Boise Art Museum—the Boise Gallery of Art exemplifies the type of public work financed by the Federal Government during the Great Depression. Constructed from sandstone quarried at nearby Table Rock, the gallery was designed in the Art-Deco style. Although the original entrance has now been enclosed, the original façade, with the bronze doors, can still be seen inside the museum today.

Boulevard Motel

The Boulevard Motel. One of several motels-hotels that still line Capitol Boulevard today, the Boulevard Motel is still in use. Today the motel serves as low income housing, providing its residents with affordable housing close to downtown and the city center. The Boulevard Motel was developed in such a way as to not infringe upon Capitol Boulevard, unlike the Grove Hotel, and more recently, the Hampton Inn, both of which obstruct the view of the Statehouse and take away from the over-all visual effect of the city’s “grand promenade.” “21 nicely furnished units with full-tile baths. Central heating. Room telephones and radios. Near city center. Close to good restaurants. TV and Refrigerated Air Conditioning.” (From back of postcard).

Stardust motel

Although several alterations have been made to the former hotel, portions of the building are still in use today. Life’s Kitchen currently occupies this historic building. “111 Luxurious Rooms and Suites, Cocktail Lounge, Coffee Shop and Convention Facilities. Swimming Pool. Five blocks to downtown business section and one block from Julia Davis and The Ann Morrison Parks.” (From back of postcard).

Construction of key bank

Key Bank rises above Capitol Boulevard, obstructing views of the Statehouse. “Commercial development along the boulevard, with its aggressive signing of all sizes, shapes, and colors, was never controlled by zoning or sign ordinances, and aesthetic review committees and other quasi-governmental bodies appointed from time to time proved largely unable to prevent visual pollution along what could have been a magnificent approach to the city and its graceful capitol dome.”

Egyptian theater with Washington mutual building in background

Washington Mutual Building encroaching on the Egyptian Theater and Capitol Boulevard.

Barnes Tower construction at Boise State College

The Barnes Towers, under construction in 1970, illustrate an appropriate type of development along Capitol Boulevard. The dormitory towers were set back from the boulevard and the memorial bridge. As such, these large structures do not obstruct the view down the boulevard or impose on the memorial bridge.

Barnes Tower behind wreckage

The Barnes Towers, under construction in 1970, illustrate an appropriate type of development along Capitol Boulevard. The dormitory towers were set back from the boulevard and the memorial bridge. As such, these large structures do not obstruct the view down the boulevard or impose on the memorial bridge.

Artist rendering of capital blvd - see page for description

Union Pacific architects image the city’s landscaped gateway, 1924.