North End Sidewalks: A Photo Essay


WC grew up without sidewalks. Except for a few years Outside in Eugene, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois, attending school, WC hasn’t been around sidewalks very much. Which may explain WC’s fascination with them here in the North End of Boise.

The North End of Boise was platted in the late 1880s, a few years before E. T. Barnette was thrown off the Lavelle Young at what is now Fairbanks. The North End centers on Harrison Boulevard, a stretch of the Oregon Trail through Boise named after President Benjamin Harrison for his visit to Idaho in 1890, when Idaho became a state. Horses were still the primary means of transportation then, and if you look you can find evidence.

Hitching Post, 22nd and Ridenbaugh, Boise

Hitching Post, 22nd and Ridenbaugh, Boise

Re-purposed Carriage Step, 21st and Alturas Street, Boise

Re-purposed Carriage Step, 21st and Alturas Street, Boise

The sidewalks are often, but not always, stamped with the name of the installer and the date installed.

North End Sidewalk, May 1913

North End Sidewalk, May 1913

Sidewalk, Installed 1912, Boise

Sidewalk, Installed 1912, Boise

Sidewalk, 1909, Contractor Illegible, Boise

Sidewalk, 1909, Contractor Illegible, Boise

Sidewalks last a long time, but not forever. Beginning in the late 1960s, it appears the City of Boise embarked on a sidewalk replacement or upgrade system. And beginning in the 2000s, Boise undertook ADA compliance, with ramps of various kinds on street corners.

Boise styles itself the City of Trees. In the autumn, it’s more accurate to call it the City of Leaves. But that’s another post. Trees live a long time, and some of them grow quite large. Sidewalks are re-poured to make more room and avoid “root jacking,” where the tree roots and bole jack up the sidewalk.

Sidewalk modified to allow tree, Alturas Street

Sidewalk modified to allow tree, Alturas Street

While trees live a long time, sometimes the sidewalks out last them, and you get what WC calls “Ghost Trees,” where the City has removed the tree but the sidewalk still preserves the memory.

"Ghost Tree," Ellis Street, Boise

“Ghost Tree,” Ellis Street, Boise

WC’s house was probably a Sears Craftsman pre-manufactured ā€“ at one time, you could order a home from your Sears catalog ā€“ dating from about 1910. About half of the houses in the North End date from that period. Very different from Fairbanks, where only a hand full of the oldest structures at Alaskaland Pioneer Park are that old.

Hundred-plus year old sidewalks. Huh.

 

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