Ada County, Idaho is home to a vibrant political atmosphere. In the last presidential election, 46.1% of people voted for Democrats, 50% voted for the Republican Party, and the remaining 3.9% voted for other parties. Downtown Boise is the cultural center of the city, with a variety of small businesses, high-rise buildings, shops, and restaurants. 8th Street is a popular pedestrian area with sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
The neighborhood also contains the Basque Block, which celebrates Boise's Basque heritage. The origin of the city's name is uncertain. In the 1820s, French-Canadian fur hunters associated with the British-owned Hudson's Bay Company set traps nearby. The Boise River Valley was a distinctive landmark in the high desert area, an oasis dominated by poplars. This led French trappers to call it la rivière boisée (the wooded river).
The Shoshone in the Boise Valley belonged to the Yahandeka (groundhog eaters) group. In 1811, Wilson Hunt, employed as an agent in the fur trade under John Jacob Astor's orders, organized and led a group of about 60 men on an overland expedition to establish a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. This expedition passed through the Boise Valley and was the first time that a white American entered the region. Due to the War of 1812 and lack of US fur trading posts in the Pacific Northwest, most of this route was not used for two decades and Snake Country remained free of settler incursions. After the war ended in 1812, Oregon Country was officially jointly administered but was dominated only by the British Hudson Bay Company (HBC). This allowed Snake Country, including Boise Valley, to remain independent and relatively free of settler incursions. This was due to two main reasons: firstly, the general region east of the Rocky Mountains at that time was described as the Great American Desert - an arid and unproductive region unsuitable for habitation - so Boise itself was of no interest to colonists.
Secondly, Oregon Country on the other side of the Rocky Mountains was an attractive destination for settlers but British policy discouraged American colonists from settling there. Therefore, settler incursions into Boise Valley along the Oregon Trail remained low until the early 1840s when HBC established a fort in Old Fort Boise near Parma downstream of Boise River near its confluence with Snake River on Oregon border. They were present at this fort until 1844 when they handed it over to US Army. In early 1840s developments further west in Oregon meant significant changes in Boise region. At that time HBC and British began moving their operations further north to British Columbia while number of settlers in Oregon Country was slowly increasing demanding annexation. These advances were eventually cumulated in Oregon Treaty in which British ceded region to US thus ending era of joint occupation. This meant that Boise Valley and much of Snake Country were claimed as Oregon Territory.
With discovery of gold in California in 1848 and passage of Donation Land Reclamation Act colonists' incursions increased exponentially. The increase in settler incursions into Shoshone and Bannock territories and their increasing exploitation of hunting and resources from valley during their trip caused growing sense of frustration among indigenous bands along entire Oregon Trail. Thus in early 1850s to prevent settler caravans from using route and entering their land without authorization native peoples along entire trail from modern eastern Idaho to modern central Oregon began launching low-intensity attacks against caravans that passed by. Boise is located in southwestern Idaho about 41 miles (66 km) east of Oregon border and 110 miles (177 km) north of Nevada border. The elevation of city center is 2,704 feet (824 m) above sea level. Most of metropolitan area lies on wide flat plain that descends to west while mountains rise to northeast extending from southeastern tip of Boise city limits to nearby Eagle. Locals know these mountains as Boise foothills and are sometimes described as foothills of Rocky Mountains.
About 34 miles (55 km) southwest of Boise and about 26 miles (42 km) southwest of Nampa Owyhee Mountains lie entirely in neighboring Owyhee County. Southwest Boise contains sparsely populated neighborhoods built from 1960s to early 1980s many include acre-sized plots and occasional farm and pasture. In 1980s growth of area was delayed to prevent urban expansion but since law was lifted there has been widespread growth in new homes and neighborhoods. The current political climate in Boise is one that is diverse yet united by its commitment to progressivism and social justice.