New Boise Cover-Up Is a Good Thing

A dozen manhole covers in the first Boise LIV District showcase work by local artists



Although the corner of Fifth and Broad streets is still a dusty mess of road work and apartment construction, several creative elements of the first Boise LIV District are coming into focus. On Sept. 27, the Boise City Department of Arts and History offered a sneak peek of new decorative steel manhole covers designed by three local artists.

In all, 12 covers designed by Rick Friesen, Kirsten Furlong and Charles Haman—four by each artist—now guard fiber optic cable junctions along Broad Street between Second Street and Capitol Boulevard. The artists each received $2,500 for their designs.

Birds and tight line work adorn Furlong's cover. The combination of the natural world and geometric designs have long been features of her work, and her themes jibe with city efforts to brand itself as a rational planner associated with the preservation of the Boise River and Foothills.

Haman's piece features a large gear—a frequent motif in his work—surrounded by a foot, a drop of water and a leaf, symbolizing the natural attributes of the city.

Friesen chose historical subject matter, representing the 19th century homes once common in the Central Addition neighborhood. His design invokes painful memories: In 2014 and 2015, many of those homes were either demolished or moved to new locations across the city. In late 2015, crews rolled away the Wood House in a midnight operation to the corner of 15th and Jefferson streets. The Stewart House, built in 1893 for Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Stewart, was torn down approximately a month later. The Fowler apartment building on the corner of Fifth and Broad streets draws its name from one of the houses removed to make way for the development.

BCDAH selected the works that would be used on the manhole covers after inviting 15 artists to submit their ideas. Five artists were chosen by a panel to create design concepts and, after a public comment period, designs by Haman, Friesen and Furlong were selected.

Crews began digging the cable junctions Sept. 28, and the covers, fabricated by Northwest Recreation Oregon (, were installed in the following days. BCDAH will unveil them at an Oct. 12 ceremony attended by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and members of the Capital City Development Corporation.

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