A Brief History of Salt Lake City, Utah

So what are the best things to do in Salt Lake City, anyway? To answer this question, we’re going to have to go back and learn a little bit about the town’s history. History buffs, buckle your seatbelts. Okay, it’s not going to be that long of a lesson. But this town definitely does have some rich culture to share. This short history will give you an idea of the reasoning behind city planning, knowledge of some of the temples, and get you excited to explore some historical sites. Let’s take a look behind the curtain.

Ancient Times In the Region of Salt Lake

In ancient times, modern-day Utah was inhabited by various Native American groups. Ancient Pueblo people, known as Anasazi, constructed large communities around Southern Utah from 1 to 1300 AD. The state takes its name from the Ute tribe; Navajo Indians arrived later in this region.

Native American Village at This Is The Place Heritage Park

The Early 1800s in Salt Lake City 

Salt Lake City was founded on July 24, 1847,f by a group of Mormon pioneers. Led by Brigham Young, these pioneers were the first non-Indian settlers to come to the Salt Lake Valley and settle down. One hundred and forty-eight people were in this founding group, consisting of 143 men,  3 women, and 2 children. They came to the valley for the purpose of seeking freedom from hostile mobs and persecution. It is believed that when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young said: “this is the right place.”

This is the Place Heritage Park

On the very day of their arrival, these pioneers began to work to call it home. They began to till the soil and plant their crops. Within just a few days, plans were drawn for the great Salt Lake City, named for the island lake that dominated the desert in the west. Directly from the center of the city (now known as Temple Square), blocks were arranged on a grid pattern covering 10 square acres. These squares marked the equivalent of 132 streets wide, “wide enough for a team of four oxen and a covered wagon to turn around.”

The Mid-1800s In Salt Lake City

One year later in 1848, more emigrants arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Many of these pioneers were European converts, who had become Mormons later on in life. During this decade of emigration, they brought their culture with them, transforming Salt Lake City into a cosmopolitan center.

When they first arrived in the region, Salt Lake City was still a part of Mexico. A treaty signed in 1848 ceded it to the United States and two years later in 1850, the State of Desert became official Utah property. Since Deseret means beehive and symbolizes industriousness, Utah’s state symbol is the beehive. Its state bird is the seagull, but that’s another story for another time.

Beehive DistillingDuring the 1850s, the California Gold Rush brought forth a whole new wave of settlers, looking for a share of the get rich quick scheme. U.S. soldiers were stationed here too. While trade with these travelers brought in a steady stream of state revenue, agriculture continued to be Utah’s mainstay.

 In 1869, the completion of the transcontinental railroad brought the second big wave of change. Many people traveled by rail to come to the “City of Saints.” Others who came for the Gold Rush ended up staying. 

The Late 1800s In Salt Lake City

From the 1860s through the 1920s, hundreds of mines were opened to harvest gold, copper, silver and led into the nearby canyons. Some more prosperous mine owners constructed mansions for themselves along the famous South Temple area, once known as Brigham Street.

Brigham Young's Residence on South TempleThe 1890s arguably brought the most change to Salt Lake City. This is when the Mormon Church officially ended the practice of polygamy. In 1896, Utah became the third state to extend the right to vote to women.

The Early to Mid 1900s In Salt Lake City

Moving on to the 1990s, many historical buildings were constructed. Electric trolleys were installed at Trolley Square were used to transport people living in the Avenues, Capitol Hill, Liberty Park, and the Sugarhouse Areas to downtown. Sadly, the trolleys were gradually replaced by buses in the 1930s. The last trolley was discontinued in 1941. City parks were also installed, along with sewer systems, lighting fixtures, and paved streets.

Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park

During the 1960s, several commercial centers were constructed in the suburbs, drawing business away from downtown. To counteract this, the LDS church invested $40 million in a downtown shopping center, ZCMI.

City Creek CenterAfter it closed in 2007, The LDS church built the City Creek Center shopping mall for an estimated $1.5 billion, as  part of an estimated $5 billion sustainable design project to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City.

Read the full article at trekbible.