Thursday, September 13, 2007

Boise's essential neighborhood

What makes a great city? To me, a hallmark is that it has great neighborhoods where people not only live, but work, eat, drink, play, and mingle in close proximity, preferably in a pedestrian-oriented environment.

In Boise, many of our neighborhoods outside downtown and the near North and East ends sadly developed in the mid-20th century, the same time people became reliant on their cars. Instead of sidewalk-lined shopping districts, we got strip malls fronted by huge parking lots and subdivisions bereft of sidewalks. It's not impossible for a neighborhood like this to meet the ideal I noted above, but it's more difficult.

For example, my Central Bench neighborhood is seeing many cool restaurants and other amenities emerge along Vista Avenue, but Vista's auto-centric vibe detracts from the strolling ambience the best neighborhoods can claim. Bown Crossing in southeast Boise is a brand-new neighborhood whose developers understand what a neighborhood ought to feel and look like. Yet Bown may never become a truly timeless neighborhood because it's only affordable to a small percentage of Boiseans. Great neighborhoods need people of all economic classes, too. The newly emerging Linen District on downtown's west end may yet fill this bill.

All of this is a long way of getting around to saying that the Hyde Park Street Fair returns to the North End, Boise's most fully realized urban neighborhood, this weekend. The name is a misnomer, of course; the festival has gotten waaaaay too big to happen in Hyde Park, the North End's compact commercial area. All the more reason to enjoy the festival this weekend (4 to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday), then return to Hyde Park some other time to enjoy more leisurely sidewalk dining, suds, and shopping.

Two additional notes:

While in Hyde Park this weekend, consider hitting up the Idaho Earth Institute's annual Yard Sale, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday only at 12th & Eastman.

Also consider leaving your car or truck at home. The weather will be gorgeous this weekend, so walk or bike to Hyde Park if you can - or at least carpool, park many blocks away from Camels Back, and enjoy the stroll. Click here for the festival's website, which includes a music schedule and map.

No comments: