I love to pick up friends at the Boise Airport and help them get to know the city with this delightful driving route I call Boise’s Quirky Sites.
It starts right at the airport. There’s a neon sculpture attached to the parking garage at the airport. I think it’s supposed to represent airplane wings. It’s titled, Boise Wings, by Adam Leventhal.
Heading into downtown Boise from the airport, the next quirky site is the sign on the Library. Sounds weird, but I did mention “quirky” did I not? Our library isn’t just any library. Oh, no. The sign proclaims “Library!” with an exclamation point. The story goes that one of the library board members thought “Library” was just too dull and ordinary.
Next on the list is the sculpture on the side of the Grove Hotel, titled River Sculpture, by Alison Sky. This 50-foot-high sculpture looks like a giant, rainbow-colored crack in the side of the building, that spews mist out at pedestrians on the sidewalk. It’s supposed to be the Boise River. Like it or hate it, you have to admit it’s definitely quirky.
Of course, no trip to Boise would be complete without a view of the famous blue turf at Bronco Stadium. (And if you aren’t a football fan, believe me, it’s still fun to see.) That’s where the Boise State Bronco football team plays,and has an incredible winning streak at home.
From BSU, we continue east on Warm Springs Avenue, where many founders of the city built their homes more than a century ago. Here you will see hitching posts and carriage steps still lining the streets.
Up on the hill called Table Rock, you’ll see a lighted white cross hovering over the city, especially at nighttime. There has been some controversy over this cross from time to time. Originally, it was erected by a local community group. The city tried to remove it at one point, I think, but was met with citizen outrage. Go figure.
Citizens also cried out when a carving of the ten commandments that had lived in relative obscurity along the Boise River Greenbelt drew the attention of a man from Kansas who wanted to put up a sign denouncing the rights of gay people. The city decided rather than succumb to his demands, they would remove the ten commandments from the site. Huge controversial arguing ensued, and the final result is that the Episcopal church offered to display the stone tablets on theirs grounds, ironically across the street from the statehouse. Apparently, part of Boise’s quirkiness is its attachment to religious symbols.
From the corner where the ten commandments now stand, we take you to the foothills, where stands the one-time home of Idaho’s potato king, J.R. Simplot. The home now belongs to the state. A giant U.S. flag flies on that hill, a beacon on a hill, as it were, making loud flapping sounds for all the neighbors. But it remains, quirks and all.