Did You Know This Beautiful Boise Park Was Almost a Shopping Mall?
In fact, before one of the newest addition to Boise's "Ribbon of Jewels" opened as a public park, it had quite a few different uses.
Boise Parks and Recreation has posted water quality warning signs at Esther Simplot Park Pond 1 after the water tested high for the level of E. Coli in the water. While they haven't closed the pond yet, they are advising the public to use the pond at their own risk. In other words - it's summer in Boise. This happens every year and people always get upset about it. That's why we couldn't help but become a live action version of the Michael Jackson eating popcorn "Just here for the comments meme."
As we scrolled through, we got hung up on Coran R.'s comment asking "Didn't it used to be a landfill anyway?" Sarah B. answered the question and shared a link outlining what the present day Esther Simplot Park has been used for since the 1800s. The page was put together by Dr. Jennifer Stevens and several students from Boise State and it's absolutely fascinating.
Once upon a time, the building we now know as Fork was once home to the Boise Butcher Company. They sold meat under a few different brand names. At some point in the late 1800s, the City of Boise issued an ordinance that outlawed slaughterhouses within city limits. So, Boise Butcher Company and at least two other companies moved their slaughter houses out to present day Esther Simplot Park.
According the North End's unofficial website, it (and the future home of the the Whitewater Park) wasn't a pond back then. It was filled with concrete and when the slaughterhouse era ended the slaughter houses were demolished. All of the debris was pushed into the river.
Could you picture a airport at Esther Simplot Park? Well, that's exactly what it became in the mid 1940s. According to a webpage dedicated to Abandoned and Little Known Airfields the "Boise Air Park" was one of five small airports that showed up on an airport map from the late 40s. From the few aerial photos we have of it, we know that it was a single runway. It was closed by 1958.
We touched on this in an old article we did about some things you didn't know about Quinn's Pond a few years ago. Part of the sight was used as the Quinn's Robbin's Construction Company's gravel operation. They were the ones who put in a gravel pit pond and unfortunately, there was a fair amount of drownings that happened there.
For a little while, it was also home to Consolidated Concrete but they eventually moved out to Eagle.
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1970s and 1980s
And here's where the mall idea comes into play. Nampa had a mall (Karcher Mall originally opened in 1965) and there was a lot of interest in bringing one closer to Boise. The current location of Boise Town Square Mall and the present day Village at Meridian site were pitched by one developer. Morrison Knudsen pitched this location. There's a cool rendering of what the site would've looked like if Esther Simplot Park's home would've been chosen on this webpage.
With the exception of the not quite as nice as it is today "Quinn's Pond," the site was pretty much left alone until the wheels for Esther Simplot Park started rolling. You can read how that all came together HERE. There's a few somewhat chilling of the debris clean-up that had to happen on that page worth checking out!