Thursday, May 5, 2016

The days of the neighborhood grocer: A visit to Boise's North End

Today I thought I would blog about a historic marker that was just installed in the park three blocks away from my house.  I live in Boise's North End, a historic neighborhood that was built on a grid system where residents could buy one, two, or three 25 x 100 lots.  It made for an eclectic mix of starter homes and mansions, side by side.  

Within this small neighborhood were a number of neighborhood groceries that people ran out of their homes.  See the map below.  It is kind of remarkable to imagine so many grocers, all operated within homes, in such a small neighborhood.  But I kind of love the idea.  I also love the idea that there was so much open retail built into the fabric of the neighborhood.

Independent of the economics of being a neighborhood grocer, it is hard to imagine such retail being permitted in single-family use districts throughout much of the country.  I wonder how today's North End, which is considerably wealthier than in the days when these grocers were operating, would respond--or welcome--such retail uses today.






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