(CN) — Boise has always commanded a somewhat unique reputation among the denizens of the Gem State. Serving as both Idaho’s capital and most populace city, Boise has long provided the closest thing to a big-city experience in an otherwise largely rural state, and yet still seems to carry many of the trappings that come with rural living.
It’s a place where a vibrant downtown packed with fusion restaurants and novelty shops seems only a stone’s throw away from cattle crossings and horse trails. Where ornately graffitied and tourist-trekked alleyways — the most famous of which has been dubbed Freak Alley by locals — are surrounded by foothills and hot springs. And where hippies and oddballs rub elbows with ranchers and cowboys on a regular basis.
It’s also something of an outsider in its own backyard. Like many larger cities in rural areas, Boise has a reputation for being a more liberal, Democratic hub in an otherwise overwhelming conservative state, a large blue dot in a sea of reliably red territory.
But look around Boise long enough and talk with those who have called the city home for decades, and it becomes apparent that Boise is not the same creature it once was. Traffic and backed-up commutes have become more common, commercial construction and residential development projects seem never-ending and city streets have become more crowded by the day.
These changes can all be traced to the simple fact that Boise is — and has been for some time — a city mid-metamorphosis, one that is growing at an almost shocking rate. And for many, grappling with that reality has been a challenge.