A famous old map of Boise featuring a bird's-eye view of the city gave historian Barbara Perry Bauer the inspiration for "Up on the Roof: A Birdseye View of Boise."
The self-guided tour hosted by Preservation Idaho takes place Saturday evening in Downtown Boise.
"We were looking for a different kind of event," said Perry Bauer, who joined the Preservation Idaho board this year.
Those who attend will venture to rooftops that are usually closed to the public, including the Owyhee Plaza, the Empire Building, Plaza 121, Jefferson Place and the parking garage at 9th and Bannock. The Idaho Statesman is a sponsor of the event.
Lining up buildings to tour was tricky, said Dan Everhart, a Preservation Idaho spokesman. Initially, the list of possible sites was long.
"But most buildings aren't designed to have 100 people standing on their roof," Everhart said. "That quickly brought everyone back to reality."
They honed their list to five.
Parking garages can handle a lot of weight. And lest you think that such a structure is boring, consider that the garage at 9th and Bannock offers unexpected views of historic structures such as the Hoff Building and the Statehouse. On Saturday, jazz notes will also climb through the fresh air.
The tour includes a different musical genre at each stop - jazz in the parking garage, tunes from the 1940s and '50s at another stop, music from the Vinyl Preservation Society at another.
The rooftop tour is happening at an interesting time, when the Boise skyline is changing in big ways, said Perry Bauer.
Major construction projects like JUMP on Myrtle Street and the Zions Bank building going up in the former "Boise Hole" at 8th and Main will profoundly alter the city's appearance.
"We are trying to give people a new perspective on history, getting them to look up and around a little bit," Perry Bauer said.
The Saturday event is a fundraiser for the organization that hosts statewide history events and programs.
Local events include the annual Heritage Homes tour (Oct. 6 in the Boise Highlands) and the ArchWalks throughout the summer. The group also works with historians-to-be through the Boise Architecture Project at Boise High School.
"Preservation of historic buildings gives us a sense of place," said Perry Bauer, "especially in this sesquicentennial year."
Anna Webb: 377-6431