Despite the fact that River Street has been a neighborhood for over 120 years, I found relatively few newspaper articles devoted to the neighborhood’s people and history. Most of the documents I did find were on file at the Idaho State Historical Society Archives in Boise. You can download the latest newspaper article bibliography here: River Street Neighborhood Newspaper Article Bibliography
Tales told about the Neighborhood through Boise Newspapers
Most of the coverage about River Street comes from Boise’s largest newspaper: the Idaho Statesman. While there is little on the community before the 1960s, most Statesman coverage vacillated between apathy about the “dying” community and frustration about how the city could effectively promote development. Statesman writer Tom Grote expressed the newspaper’s coverage best in 1981 when he wrote: “Like parents of an errant child, Boise city officials and developers have been asking themselves: What shall we do about River Street?”
During the mid-twentieth century, the City of Boise was dedicated to transforming the Neighborhood in accordance with the prevailing tenets of Urban Renewal that was widespread throughout United States urban planning at the time. The idea was to create a regulatory framework that would encourage businesses to construct commercial properties in River Street. By the 1970s, the City appears to have been largely sold on the idea that River Street was decayed and dying– a blighted community. However, River Street residents would not be re-zoned or redeveloped out of their homes. In 1970, social work students at Boise State University and community activists were able to create a community center and playground. These amenities exist today. While residents fought for their neighborhood, other Boiseans regarded the place a lost cause by the 1980s.
By the early 2000s, the tune in Boise seems to have changed. The Statesman and Boise Weekly began reminiscing about the history that was being lost. River Street may have been almost entirely lost, but its importance and heritage is slowly being acknowledged.
1987 Developer says work to start on new offices. Idaho Statesman 6/3/1987. Statesman_6_3_1987_work_Started_on_Offices
1971 “Renewal Asked on River Street at Boise Parlay.” Idaho Daily Statesman 10/8/1971:C6—7. Daily_Statesman_10-8-1971_Renewal_Asked_on_River_Street
1970 “River Street Center: A Successful Experiment.” Idaho Statesman 12/13/1970:2E. Statesman_12-13-1970_River_Street_Center
1987 “Black Roots Go Deep in Idaho.” Idaho Statesman 2/16/1987:1. Statesman_2-16-1987_Black_Roots_Go_Deep_in_Idaho
1970 “Owner Donates River Street Lot; Volunteers Map Playground Plan.” Idaho Statesman 8/17/1970:10. Statesman_8-17-1981_Owner_Donates_River_Street_Lot
1986 Office Complex Planned Along the River. Idaho Statesman 3/29/1986. Statesman_3_29_1986_OfficeComplex_Planned_on_river
1981 “River Street Poses Dilemma.” Idaho Statesman 7/13/1981:1A. Statesman_7-13-1981_River_Street_Poses_Dilemma
1981 “Once-thriving neighborhood exists in history alone.” 3/25/1981. Statesman_3-25-1981_Once_Thriving_Neighborhood_Lives_in_Oral_History
1981 “River Street, Historic Preservation.” 7/21/1981. Statesman_4_21_1981_River_Street_Historic_Preservation
2005 “Boise’s Lee Street area now mostly a memory.” Idaho Statesman 1/26/2005:1. Statesman_1-26-2005_Lee_Street_Mostly_a_Memory
1990 Forest River IX will join complex by the Greenbelt. Idaho Statesman 7/25/1990. Statesman_7_25_1990_Forest_River_Complex
Winn, Christian A.
2001 Down by the River: The Past, Present, and Future of a Historic Boise Neighborhood. Boise Weekly, Nov. 28—Dec.4. Boise_Weekly_11-28–12-4-2001_Down_by_the_River
2000 “River Street Neighborhood shows signs of renaissance.” Idaho Statesman 6/11/2000: 1A,6A—7A. Statesman_6-11-2000_River_Street_Revival
1968 “Once-Proud River Street Area Hosted Boise’s Cultural, Sporting Activities.” Idaho Daily Statesman, 3/11/1968:14. Statesman_3-11-1968_River_Street_Hosted_Cultural_Activities
1968 “Variety of Zoning in Vicinity of Boise River Street Complicates Maintaining Standards in Residences.” Idaho Daily Statesman, 3-12-68:pg. 5—C1. Daily_Statesman_3-12-1968_Zoning_in_River_Street_Complicates_Maintaining_Standards
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