150 years ago, Boise began as 10 blocks on paper

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Boise officially came together as a city at a time the nation was tearing itself apart.

On July 4th, 1863, U.S. Army Major Pinckney Lugenbeel formally designated a site at the edge of the foothills as Fort Boise, an outpost to protect settlers and miners from Native American tribes.

"And it had timber, water. It was a very strategic location," said city historian Brandi Burns. " Plus there was the road to Idaho City and all the gold mines up there."

Lugenbeel wanted the date of the fort's designation to be momentous.
It certainly was.

July 4th 1863 was not only America's birthday, it was exactly one day after the Union's victory over the Confederate army at the Battle of Gettysburg in far away Pennsylvania.

Gold from Idaho's mines helped fund the Union army during the Civil War.

A few days after founding the fort, on July 7th 1863, Lugenbeel and local homesteaders wen one step further and laid out the first official 10-block plat for the City of Boise.

"They assigned lots," says Burns. "So it's really the first official day the city was created, that they put their intentions on paper. It was really small. boundaries today go from 10th street to 5th street, the north boundary is Idaho Street, the south boundary is Grove Street."

Cyrus Jacobs was one of the 1863 city founders.

His house, built in 1864 (also known as the Uberaga Basque boarding house) stands on Grove Street as the oldest surviving brick structure in Boise.

The Fort Street home of another city founder, John O'Farrell, built in 1863, remains the city's first log cabin.

The site of old Fort Boise is now home to the Veterans Administration medical center and other iconic and vital landmarks.

And the original platted area of downtown has become the vibrant heart of a thriving city.