Salt Lake City History
Before the area of present day Salt Lake City was settled, it was inhabited for thousands of years by hunter-gatherer tribes. The area still contains many extraordinarily elaborate rock paintings from those times. First explorers in the area were the Spanish, who travelled from New Mexico in search of a passage to Monterey in California. In early 1800, trappers and mountain men also passed through the area, making notes of the mountain passes. Later, the area received a steady flow of settlers on their way to California.
The first permanent settlement was founded in 1847 by a group of Mormons led by Brigham Young. They laid out a town called Great Salt Lake City and worked on it very carefully, with a well-thought street plan, irrigation systems and many crops. In 1848, the settlers in Utah applied for statehood as the State of Dessert, which was denied and the Utah Territory was created instead, in 1850. Salt Lake City was incorporated as a city and five years later it became the capital of the territory. In 1856, there was a war between Mormon settlers and the U.S. Government, mostly over the religious beliefs.
The transcontinental railroad arrived in Utah in 1869. New settlers, mostly miners for silver, gold and copper, arrived with the railroad and the city got some of its first non-Mormon inhabitants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finally put a ban on polygamy in 1890. In 1892, the famous Salt Lake Temple was completed after almost 40 years of construction. Utah became a U.S. state in 1896 as the third suffrage state in America.
In early 20th century Salt Lake City started developing itself as a modern and prosperous city. New development included the completion of the State Capitol building, electric trolley car service and several residential areas. The development slowed down during the Great Depression, much like in any other city in the nation, but started again during and after the World War II, when there was a high demand for metals and various manufacturing industries. As the industrialization continued throughout the 20th century, the city underwent several beautification projects, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, considered to be the “best attended” Olympic Winter Games of all times.
Geography and Climate
The city occupies an area of 110.4 square miles. The average elevation is 4,327 feet above sea level. The highest point in the city is Grandview Peak at 9,410 feet and the lowest one is 4,210 feet near the Jordan River, which passes through the city.
Salt Lake City is located in the Salt Lake Valley, surrounded by Oquirrh and Wasatch mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
The climate in Salt Lake City is semi-arid, with four distinct seasons. The summers are long, hot and dry and the winters are also long, cold and snowy. Both spring and fall are brief and comfortable.
Population of Salt Lake City
At the 2010 U.S. Census, the racial makeup in the city is 56.13% White, 30.33% Hispanic or Latino, 17.73% African American, 5.42% Asian, 3.24% Native American, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 10.75% from some other race 3.7% from two or more races.
Even though it is often perceived as a predominantly Mormon city, Salt Lake City actually has much smaller Mormon population compared to other areas in Utah.
Salt Lake City is often considered to be one of the best gay-friendly cities, with a large and very organized and politically active gay community.
The median household income in the city is $36,944 and the per capita income is $20,752.
In the past, the economy of Salt Lake City was based on mining, steel mills and railroad operations. Today, the city is more service-oriented. Major industries include government, trade, transportation, utilities and various professional services. Largest employers in Salt Lake City include federal and state government, Delta Air Lines hub, Intermountain Health Care, University of Utah, Sinclair Oil Corporation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other large companies and employers include Huntsman Corporation, Zions Bancorporation, Questar Corporation, Smith’s Food and Drug, MonaVie and others.
Tourism is a major contributor to the economy in the city, especially since the 2002 Winter Olympics, and winter sports attract many visitors in the Wasatch Mountains, east of Salt Lake City. In addition, there are eight ski resorts within 50 miles from the city.
Culture and Attractions
Salt Lake City has many museums, most notably the Church History Museum near Temple Square, the Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Natural History Museum of Utah and Fort Douglas Military Museum.
Important venues in the city include Capitol Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, and the companies include Plan-B Theatre Company, the Off-Broadway Theatre, Laughing Stock, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Ballet West and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.
The local music scene is very rich and vibrant, especially in genres such as blues, hip-hop, punk, metal and indie. Some of the bands based in the city include Gaza, Iceburn, The Almost, Shedaisy and Royal Bliss.
The largest events in the city include Utah Pride Festival, Pioneer Day, Greek Festival and, of course, Sundance Film Festival, which is actually held at the Sundance Resort and Park City, but also partially in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City is the home to the University of Utah, the oldest university in the West. Other institutions of higher education in the city include Eagle Gate College, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, LDS Business College, The Art Institute of Salt Lake City and Stevens-Henager College.
The largest highways in the city are I-15, I-80, I-215, SR-201 and the Legacy Parkway. Utah Transit Authority operates the mass transit in the area. The city has a light rail system called TRAX, with three lines, and the commuter rail service is provided by FrontRunner. Amtrak provides passenger rail service on its California Zephyr line and the city is also served by Greyhound Bus Lines.
Salt Lake City International Airport, with a Delta Air Lines hub, is located some four miles west of downtown.