Boise Bench History
Why is the area between downtown Boise and the South end of town called the Boise Bench? The Bench was given its name because of the steep rise caused by an ancient shoreline when traveling south from downtown Boise and continuing for many miles to the West. The area averages 50' higher in elevation than lower lying sections of Boise (like the North End, Eagle and downtown). This keeps the Bench high and dry when the river swells in the Spring time but also makes biking home after a big meal a little work!
Prior to the construction of the Ridenbaugh and New York Canals in the late 1800s the area now known as the Bench was nothing more than desert and sagebrush. The onset of the canal system completely changed the entire Treasure Valley and the Bench was one of the first beneficiaries due to its proximity to downtown Boise. (many homes on the Bench still have very affordable irrigation rights). Orchard St (main N/S thoroughfare) was given its name as farmers quickly realized the potential for agriculture with the new abudance of water. You can still find some of the old farmstead homes on the Bench from when the area was large tracts of farm land.
Because of its proximity to the heart of Boise, the Bench neighborhood was a natural area for residential growth. The building of the still standing iconic Boise Depot in 1925 and the construction of trolley cars solidified the future of the Bench as a residential area with a steady influx of people coming to Idaho.