A Collection Of Picture Postcards Document Boise's Changing Skyline

Feb 16, 2015

Boise’s skyline has morphed over time, as buildings from early in the last century made way for newer, more modern structures. Those changes were captured in picture postcards and have been published in a new book.

Frank Aden Junior is an amateur Boise historian and a member of the Idaho Historical Society. His interest in Boise history grew out of his hobby of collecting old picture postcards that showed the city from different locations.

“My grandparents or my parents gave me a postcard looking down from the Capitol towards the train depot prior to the bridge being completed,” he recalls. Aden says he was instantly captivated at how much had changed since that card was taken around 1930.

He lost that card. But many years later, around 1970 he found an identical card.

"I was in an antique shop and I found the same one again and I said 'oh great, I get this one back.'” He says that was the beginning of a new hobby. “It was just 'wham!' All of a sudden, every time I go to an antique store, I’m going through looking for Boise postcards.”

Aden estimates he has around 300 postcards of Boise. Most of the cards he has are pre-1960.

Aden grew up downtown and knew a lot of the people who ran the old businesses. “My father ran the Trailways bus depot and I got to know all these people.” He drew on that knowledge, plus some historical research, to put together his book “Boise,” part of Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series.

This is the postcard that started it all. This was the first card Aden had in his collection, the one he lost and then found again at an antique store. It's looking south toward the train depot before the bridge was built in 1931.
Credit Courtesy of Frank Aden Jr.

Aden says the book is a good representation of Boise history over time. He says many buildings in the postcards no longer exist.

“I just think that it will give [people] a better idea of [what] downtown Boise was like prior to 1970. It hadn’t really changed that much up until 1970, and then from 1970 going forward was when they started knocking things down.”

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