Exhibits and Tours

Welcome to Boise History's exhibits and tours! Our easy-to-use self-guided exhibits and tours explore Boise and its neighborhoods with a nod to the past. 

Chinese Parade, 1904-1905, MS086, Boise City Vicinity Glass Plate Collection, Boise City Archives

Crossroads of Culture

Explore the vibrant tapestry of Chinese culture and history in Boise, from 1863 to the present day, with an exhibit located on the third floor of Boise City Hall. Developed in partnership with the University of Idaho's Asian American Comparative Collection, Crossroads of Culture illuminates the enduring legacy of the Chinese people in Boise. On view through September 30, 2024.

"Spanish Village" or "Urquides Village" was founded by Mexican born Jesús Urquides, an early immigrant into the Boise Valley. Urquides' "Little World", circa 1950s, courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society 66-74.282

Remnants of Boise

Explore the last 150+ years of Boise's growth and development. The tour consists of 25 locations that explore a different area of the city. Historic photographs, plats, and maps will reveal a better understanding of the evolution of each location.

Boise, circa 1866. Courtesy Idaho State Archives, 78-134-1

A City Without a Mayor: Boise’s Early Government 1863-1867 

Over the course of four years in the mid-1860s, a struggle over the function of city government threatened to undo much of the progress early residents had made in establishing and developing Boise City. The controversy stemmed from a simple question: was municipal government necessary?

Boise City Hall, a red brick, Romanesque Revival structure once located on the southeast corner of 8th and Idaho streets (where Main + Marketplace is now), built in 1893. Courtesy of Boise City Archives, MS097

City Halls Past & Present

City hall buildings represent the city government and its center of power. They house government officials and staff who keep the city running, and also provide access points for citizens to reach the people who work on their behalf. The history of Boise’s city hall structures reflects the growth and evolution of the city itself. Over the past 157 years, Boise municipal government offices transitioned from borrowed spaces in offices and private residences to the current downtown City Hall Plaza, occupying a full city block, with a second facility in West Boise for the Police and Fire departments.

March at Camel's Back Park circa 1990s. Courtesy of Boise City Archives, MS003

Boise's Open Space: Celebrating 20 Years of the Foothills Levy

2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the first foothills levy passed by 59% of Boise voters on May 22, 2001. With a two-year, $10 million dollar commitment, Boiseans showed tremendous support for protecting open space in the Boise Foothills. Explore an exhibit of historic photographs and stories unlocking the origins, conditions, and events surrounding the foothills' environment, as well as the impact of the levy on Boise’s open space over the last two decades.

Noted suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway spoke twice in Idaho's first Territorial Capitol. Courtesy of Idaho State Archives 76-138.18

“Workin’ 9 to 5: Boise Suffragists in Downtown Boise" 

Downtown history tours often focus on the architecture of buildings and the businesses they held. Invariably, these stories primarily focus on men. The aim of this tour is to depart from the traditional narrative and, instead, show the indelible mark women have left on downtown Boise. Join the adventure to learn more about our built environment through the lens of women's history. 

Boise’s original plat, drawn in July 1863, included ten blocks centered on Main Street. Courtesy of Idaho State Archives, G4274.B63 1863.R45

Boise's 1863 Plat Walking Tour

Explore the City of Boise through the lens of early settlers. Discover boundaries of the plat, including what was lost and how the area has been transformed.