It's a small city sitting in the middle of the state's largest urban area. Its missile shape means it must run services a longer distance than most cities of 9,300 and precludes urban sprawl because there's no place to sprawl.
First of all, there's the name. "Garden City" doesn't make one think of a city packed with small businesses and the widest range of housing prices in Ada County. But that's Garden City. And as with most other facts in this small city, there's a great story behind it.
Before Garden City became a city, it was the site of gardens where Chinese immigrants raised produce to sell to residents of nearby Boise. (Garden City and its main thoroughfare, Chinden Boulevard, both are named after the Chinese gardens.) When the Idaho Legislature legalized gambling by city option in 1949 and all the cities promptly outlawed it, enterprising individuals incorporated Garden City as a gaming mecca. Gambling revenues paid for a library, a police department and other city services. Four years later, the Legislature reversed itself and outlawed gambling. Garden City was left with the remnants and an uncertain future.
Commuter traffic is a particular problem in Garden City because of the major thoroughfares that run through it and into the city of Boise. In addition to Chinden Boulevard, Garden City is home to Glenwood Street, State Street, and Veteran's Memorial Parkway, all major commuter routes for workers traveling from West Boise or outlying towns into downtown Boise.
In addition, Garden City is home to the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, horse racing at Les Bois Park and professional baseball at Memorial Stadium. Although these venues are not operated by Garden City, they bring in much traffic and business.