Salt Lake City, Utah

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Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City Flag Salt Lake City Seal
Flag of Salt Lake City Seal of Salt Lake City
City nickname: "Crossroads of the West"
Location of Salt Lake City in the state of Utah
Location of Salt Lake City in the state of Utah

Rocky Anderson


Salt Lake County


  - Total
  - Land
  - Water
  - % water

285.9 km² (110.4 mi²)
282.5 km² (109.1 mi²)
3.3 km² (1.3 mi²)

Population (2000)

  - City
  - Metro
  - Density

643.3/km² (706.4/mi²)

Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6
Latitude 111° 53' W
Longitude 40° 45' N
External link: Salt Lake City official web page
Aerial view of Temple Square of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City's top tourist draw.  Shown during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Aerial view of Temple Square of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City's top tourist draw. Shown during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Salt Lake City is the state capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Utah.

Salt Lake City's population, as determined by the 2000 Census, was 181,743. It is the seat of Salt Lake County, which contains the entire Salt Lake Valley with 15 other municipalities and has a population of about 900,000. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area includes two additional counties, Summit and Tooele, whose total population was estimated at 1,005,232 in 2003.

The city occupies the north end of the Salt Lake Valley along the Wasatch Front at an elevation of 4,330 ft (1,320 m). The valley is surrounded by mountains that rise up to 6,500 ft (1,980 m) above the valley floor. Named after nearby Great Salt Lake - in fact, the original name was "Great Salt Lake City" - the city is separated from the lake's shore by marshes and mudflats. Residents are known as "Salt Lakers".

Founded in 1847 by a group of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) led by their religious leader, Brigham Young, Salt Lake City is among the region's oldest cities and is the location of the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mining and railroads initially brought economic growth, and the city became known as the "Crossroads of the West". The city has developed a strong tourism industry and was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics.



Main article: History of Salt Lake City,

Before Western settlement, the Shoshone, Ute, and Paiute had dwelled in the Salt Lake Valley for thousands of years. The first Caucasian Europeans to settle in the valley were the Latter-Day Saints on July 24, 1847. They had traveled across the nation, seeking an isolated area to practice their religion, away from the persecution they had faced in the East. Upon arrival their religious prophet Brigham Young reportedly stated, "This is the right place."

These newcomers organized a new state called Deseret and petitioned its recognition in 1849. The United States Congress rebuffed the settlers in 1850 and established the Utah Territory. Great Salt Lake City replaced Fillmore as the territorial capital in 1858 and the name was subsequently abbreviated to Salt Lake City. The city's population swelled with an influx of religious converts, making it one of the most populous cities in the Old American West.

Salt Lake City circa 1920
Salt Lake City circa 1920

Disputes with the federal government ensued over widespread religious practice of polygamy. A climax occurred in 1857 with President James Buchanan declaring the area in rebellion when Brigham Young refused to step down as governor. The conflict called the Utah War began. A division of the United States Army marched through the city and found that it had been evacuated. This division set up Camp Floyd approximately 40 mi (65 km) southwest of the city. Another military installation, Fort Douglas, was established in 1862 to maintain Union allegiance during the American Civil War. Many area leaders were imprisoned at the territorial prison in Sugar House in the 1880s for violation of polygamy laws. The LDS Church conceded in 1890, releasing "The Manifesto", which officially renounced polygamy in the church. This paved the way for statehood in 1896, when Salt Lake City became the state capital.

The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 at Promontory Summit on the north side of the Great Salt Lake. A railroad was connected to the city from the Transcontinental Railroad in 1870 making travel less burdensome. Mass-migration of different groups followed. They found economic opportunities in the booming mining industries. These groups constructed the Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1905 and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine in 1909, the first major churches not of the Latter-Day Saint faith. Both cathedrals are historic icons.

Population growth began to stagnate during the 20th century with the advent of suburban life. High birth rates combined with migration from defunct mining towns led to explosive growth in its suburbs. As a result the suburban population greatly outnumbers the city proper itself. A major concern of recent government officials has been combating inner-city decay. The city lost population from the 1960s through the 1980s, but recovered in the 1990s.

Salt Lake City in the late 1980s with the Wasatch Mountains pictured in the background.
Salt Lake City in the late 1980s with the Wasatch Mountains pictured in the background.

During the 1990s growth rates increased. Many Californians experiencing recession migrated for economic reasons. Utah had escaped the brunt of the turmoil.

Significant demographic shifts have been experienced. Hispanics account for approximately 19% of residents. The Glendale section is predominantly Spanish speaking. Jackie Biskupski, an openly gay woman, was elected in 1998 as a Utah State representative. The Utah Pride Festival is the state’s second most attended parade. Bosnian, Sudanese, Afghani, Somali, and Russian refugees have settled in the city under government programs. There is also a large Pacific Islander population, mainly made up of Samoans and Tongans. Many of the Pacific Islanders are members of the Mormon church.

Salt Lake City was selected as the host to the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995. The games were plagued with controversy. An Olympic bid scandal surfaced in 1998 centered on accusations of bribery. During the games other scandals erupted over contested judging scores and illegal drug-use. Despite the controversies the games were heralded as a financial success, being one of the few in recent history to profit. In preparation, major construction projects were initiated. Local freeways were expanded and repaired and a light rail system was constructed. Tourism has also increased and the new Olympic venues are now used for local sporting events. Both have had a significant and lasting impact.

Geography and climate

Main Article: Geography of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Valley from space, bounded on the west by the Oquirrh Mountains, the northwest by the Great Salt Lake, and on the east by the Wasatch Mountains. Salt Lake City occupies roughly the northern quarter of the valley.
Salt Lake Valley from space, bounded on the west by the Oquirrh Mountains, the northwest by the Great Salt Lake, and on the east by the Wasatch Mountains. Salt Lake City occupies roughly the northern quarter of the valley.

Salt Lake City is located at 40°45 N and 111°53 W. The total area is 285.9 km² (110.4 mi²). It sits in the Salt Lake Valley at an average elevation of 4,327 feet (1,320 meters) above sea level.

The Wasatch Range rises approximately 11,500 ft (3,500 m) above sea level 5 mi (8 km) to the east of Downtown. The Oquirrh Mountains, located 7 mi (11 km) west of the city, rise to about 10,000 ft (3,050 m). The Traverse Mountains at the south end of the valley rise to 6,000 ft (1,830 m) above sea level, partially bridging the gap between the Wasatch and Oquirrh ranges. Many ski resorts are promoted as having the "Greatest Snow on Earth" for the light, powdery snow that is often considered great for skiing. These mountains are also the namesake of the Wasatch Front. Within the city there is a sharp rise in elevation as one travels north or east from the city center. There is an elevation range of approximately 1,000 ft (300 m), from about 4,220 ft (1,285 m) at various points in the west near the Jordan River and Great Salt Lake to 5,200 ft (1,585 m) in the Upper Avenues and Federal Heights neighborhoods and the upper East Bench.

Three major canyons cut through the Wasatch Range and open into Salt Lake City proper. The northernmost is City Creek Canyon that opens into the downtown, bordered on either side by Capitol Hill and The Avenues. Next is Emigration Canyon, the canyon the Mormons used to initially enter the valley. It opens up on the East Bench just south of the University of Utah, near Hogle Zoo and This Is The Place State Park. Traversed by Interstate 80, Parley's Canyon opens up at the very southeast corner of the city proper near Canyon Rim, an unincorporated residential suburb.

The valley floor consists of the lakebed of ancient Lake Bonneville. This lake once encompassed the eastern Great Basin. Its largest remnant is the Great Salt Lake, located 10 mi (12 km) north of the city. The Bonneville Salt Flats west of the city are a product of the dried up lake. Due to its high salinity content, the Great Salt Lake is devoid of most aquatic life. Marshlands and mudflats exist on the border of the Great Salt Lake. Algae buildup and decay commonly results in a phenomena known as “lake stink”, which serves as one of the only reminders to Salt Lakers that they live near a major body of water.

Salt Lake City at dusk
Salt Lake City at dusk

The Jordan River flows through the city from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. Early Latter-Day Saint settlers named the river after its counterpart in the Holy Land, noting similarities as a fresh water lake source and an inland salt sea destination.

Significant seismic activity has been forecasted for the area. The Wasatch Fault, located in the Wasatch Mountains, is considered overdue for a major earthquake. Concerns have been voiced over possible damage resulting from the liquefaction of the clay and sand-based soil during an earthquake.


Plat of Salt Lake City, circa 1870's
Plat of Salt Lake City, circa 1870's

The city, as well as the county, is on a grid plan. Most major streets run approximately north-south and east-west. There is about a twelve-degree variation of the grid from true north. Its origin is the southeast corner of Temple Square, the block containing the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Addresses are coordinates within the system. 100 units is equal to 1/8th of a mile (200 m), the length of blocks in downtown Salt Lake City. Locals often abbreviate the addresses when speaking. For instance, one might speak of the intersection of 700 East and 2100 South as 7th East and 21st South.

Latter-day Saint founder Joseph Smith planned it in the “Plat of the City of Zion”. In his plan the city was to be developed into 135 10-acre lots. However, the blocks became irregular during the 1800s when the LDS Church lost authority over growth and before zoning ordinances in the 1920s.

There are three distinct street patterns in Salt Lake City:

  • Initial square blocks crisscrossed by later small streets
  • 2.5-acre (10,100 m²) blocks in the Avenues
  • Rectangular blocks south from 900 South


Salt Lake City has many informal neighborhoods. The eastern portion of the city has higher property values than its western counterpart. This is a result of the railroad being built in the western half as well as scenic views from inclined grounds in the eastern portion. Immigrants find housing more affordable on the west side, which results in demographic differences. Interstate 15 further solidified these divisions. However, recently, these demographic differences have begun to even themselves out. For example, the increasingly trendy small Marmalade District on the west side of Capitol Hill was once considered seedy as few as 5-10 years ago has experienced a magnificent recovery to become an eclectic and sought-after location.

Map of modern Salt Lake City and its suburbs.
Map of modern Salt Lake City and its suburbs.


  • Avenues – climbs up hill just northeast of downtown
  • Capitol Hill – north quadrant near State Capitol, affluent residential
  • Central City – large area stretching through the center of the city east to west, mainly residential
  • Downtown – city center, commercial district
  • East Bench – eastern mountain slopes, residential
  • Fairpark – northwest near State Fairgrounds, middle-class residential
  • Federal Heights – northeast mountain slopes, affluent residential
  • Glendale – southwest, largely Hispanic, poor residential
  • Poplar Grove – west, poor residential
  • Rose Park – northwest, World War II era residential bungalows
  • Sugar House – southeast, affluent commercial and residential


Main article: Climate of Salt Lake City

Tornado rips through downtown Salt Lake City on August 11, 1999 (orange fireball is substation exploding)
Tornado rips through downtown Salt Lake City on August 11, 1999 (orange fireball is substation exploding)

Salt Lake City's climate is separated into four very distinct, widely variable seasons. A cold, snowy winter is followed by a wet spring with wide temperature swings. Overnight snow often accompanies heavy rainstorms in early spring. Summer is dry with scattered and small, but powerful, thunderstorms, while the climate in fall is widely variable, even more so than in spring.

Winter weather is moderated by the Great Salt Lake to the northwest of the city and the Rocky Mountains to the north and east of the state, which serve as barriers to frigid arctic air. Salt Lake City's record low temperature is −30°F (−34°C), set on February 9, 1933. Snow is frequent from late November through March. The airport averages 58.7 in (1,491 mm) per year, with significantly higher amounts received on the benches. Major sources of precipitation are winter snow storms originating in the Gulf of Alaska, late winter rains from Hawaiian waters, and summer monsoons from the Gulf of California. During winter, temperature inversions are common, which results in cold, hazy, and foggy conditions in the valley while the surrounding mountains enjoy warm, sunny days. Winters temperatures rarely drop below 0°F (-18°C), making winters more bearable than most other places that lie at similar elevations.

Ice skaters in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah
Ice skaters in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah

Summers are likewise moderated somewhat by the lake, and also by the city's high elevation. Days over 100°F (38°C) occur on average 4–5 times per year, but such days are marked with low humidity, which, combined with the altitude, produce a large daily range in temperatures, and hence, rather cool nights in summer. Salt Lake City's record high temperature is 107°F (41°C), first set on July 26, 1960, and again on July 13, 2002. Humidity is low during summer, making summers comparatively comfortable. The summer monsoon rising from Mexico and Arizona passes through the region beginning in mid-July and continuing through September, bringing intense but short thunderstorm activity. Salt Lake City's yearly average temperature is 52.0°F (11.1°C). May is the wettest month and July is the driest. The airport averages 16.50 in (419.1 mm) of precipitation per year.


Salt Lake City is more racially diverse than the state of Utah as a whole. For example, a comparison of the racial make up of Utah versus Salt Lake City:
Utah Salt Lake City Ethnicity
85.3% 79.20% White
9.0% 18.85% Hispanic
0.8% 1.89% Black
1.3% 1.34% Native American
1.7% 3.62% Asian
0.7% 1.89% Pacific Islander
N/A 8.52% other
2.1% 3.54% mixed

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 181,743 people (up from 159,936 in 1990), 71,461 households, and 39,803 families residing in the city. This amounts to 8.1% of Utah's population, 20.2% of Salt Lake County's population, and 13.6% of the Salt Lake metropolitan population. Salt Lake City proper covers 14.2% of Salt Lake County. Salt Lake City is more densely populated than the outlying metro area with a population density of 643.3/km² (1,666.1/mi²). There are 77,054 housing units at an average density of 272.7/km² (706.4/mi²).

The Salt Lake City-Ogden metropolitan area, which included Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties, had a population of 1,333,914 in 2000, a 24.4 percent increase over the 1990 figure of 1,072,227. Since the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau added Summit and Tooele counties to the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, but removed Davis and Weber counties and designated them as the separate Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan area. Together with the Provo-Orem metropolitan area, which lies to the south, a roughly continuous urban corridor along the Wasatch Front is formed, which has a combined population of over 1.7 million.

There are 71,461 households out of which 27.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% are married couples living together, 10.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% are non-families. 33.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.48 and the average family size is 3.24.

Historical Population
Year Population
1890 44,843
1900 53,531
1910 92,777
1920 116,110
1930 140,267
1940 149,934
1950 182,121
1960 189,454
1970 175,885
1980 163,034
1990 159,936
2000 181,743
2004 178,605

In the city the population is spread out with:

  • 23.6% under the age of 18
  • 15.2% from 18 to 24
  • 33.4% from 25 to 44
  • 16.7% from 45 to 64
  • 11.0% who are 65 years of age or older

The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 102.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 101.2 males. The median income for a household in the city is $36,944, and the median income for a family is $45,140. Males have a median income of $31,511 versus $26,403 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,752. 15.3% of the population and 10.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 18.7% of those under the age of 18 and 8.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

About half of Salt Lake City's residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This rises to about 75% for the state's more rural municipalities, averaging about 60% for Utah as a whole. Salt Lake City's relatively high birth rate, though not as high as Utah's, is attributed to high Latter-day Saint fertility.

Law and government

Main article: Law and government of Salt Lake City

Elected officials of Salt Lake City as of 2004
Official Position Term ends
Rocky Anderson mayor 2007
City Council members
Carlton Christensen 1st district 2005
Van Blair Turner 2nd district 2007
Eric Jergensen 3rd district 2005
Nancy Saxton 4th district 2007
Jill Remington Love 5th district 2005
Dave Buhler 6th district 2007
Dale Lambert 7th district 2005

Since 1979 Salt Lake City has had a non-partisan mayor-council form of government. The mayor and the seven councilors are elected to four-year terms. Mayoral elections are held the same year as three of the councilors. The other four councilors are staggered two years from the mayoral. Council seats are defined by geographic population boundaries. Each councilor represents approximately 26,000 citizens. Officials are not subject to term limits. The most recent election was held in 2003.

City and County Building, seat of city government since 1894.
City and County Building, seat of city government since 1894.

The city has elected Democratic Party mayoral candidates since the 1970s. Councilors are elected under specific issues and are usually well-known. Labor politics play no significant role. The Separation of Church and State is the most controversial topic with an ongoing Bridging the Religious Divide campaign.

Political platforms are centered on education, economic development, and transportation. The city and county's political demographics are liberal and Democratic. This stands in stark contrast to most of Utah's other counties where Republican and conservative views dominate. For example, on the question of Amendment 3 (a 2004 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage), in the county 54% of voters favored it while in neighboring Utah County 82% did.

The current mayor is Rocky Anderson, who gained international attention for actively organizing a protest against President George W. Bush during his visit to Salt Lake City for the 2005 VFW Convention. He is also well known for his strong support of gay rights (including same-sex marriage), the Kyoto Treaty, transit-oriented urban planning, and the relaxation of Utah state liquor laws.

See also: List of mayors of Salt Lake City


Main article: Economy of Salt Lake City

Gateway District, a mixed use, residential, office space, and retail development near Downtown Salt Lake City.
Gateway District, a mixed use, residential, office space, and retail development near Downtown Salt Lake City.

The modern economy of Salt Lake City is service-oriented. In the past, mining and railroad operations provided a strong source of income. Today the city’s major industries are government, trade, transportation, utilities, professional services and business services.

Local, state, and federal governments have their largest presence in Salt Lake City, accounting for 21% of employment. Trade, transportation, and utilities account for another 18% of employment with its major employer the regional Delta Air Lines hub at Salt Lake City International Airport. Equally significant are the professional and business services, which account for another 18% of employment. Health services and health educational services comprise an additional 10% of employment. Other major employers include the University of Utah, Sinclair Oil Corporation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Besides its central offices, the Church owns and operates a profit division, Deseret Management Corporation and its subsidiaries (such as Bonneville International Corporation and Deseret Book), which are headquartered in the city. Smith's Food and Drug is based in the city, but is owned by national grocer Kroger. Other notable firms based near the city include Franklin-Covey in neighboring West Valley City, in nearby Cottonwood Heights, and Arctic Circle Restaurants (the inventor of fry sauce) in Midvale. Salt Lake City was once the headquarters of ZCMI, one of the first ever department stores, but it was sold to May Department Stores, which was later bought by Federated Department Stores. Former ZCMI stores now operate under the Meier & Frank label.

Other economic activities are call centers, tourism, and conventions. Tourism was stimulated by the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Many hotels and restaurants were built for the Olympics, and now suffer post-Olympic market saturation. The convention industry has blossomed in the city after construction of the Salt Palace convention center, which hosts the annual Outdoor Retailers meeting, among other conventions.

In the latter 20th Century, urban sprawl created fierce suburban economic competition, resulting in inner-city decline as the suburbs grew rapidly. Large family sizes and low housing vacancy rates, which have inflated housing costs along the Wasatch Front, have led to one out of every six residents living below the poverty line.


Main article: Education in Salt Lake City

Internal view of the Salt Lake City Public Library
Internal view of the Salt Lake City Public Library

Education has always been a priority in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1847, pioneer Jane Dillworth held the first classes in her tent for the children of the first Mormon families. In the last part of the 1800s there was much controversy over how children in the area should be educated. Mormons and non-Mormons could not agree on the level of religious influence in schools. Many Mormon youths in grades 9-12 attend some form of religious instruction, referred to as seminary.

Due to high birth rates and large classrooms, Utah spends less per capita on students than any other state. Money is always a challenge and many businesses donate to support schools. Several districts have set up foundations to raise money. Recently, money was approved for the reconstruction of more than half of the elementary schools and one of the middle schools in the Salt Lake City School District, which serves Salt Lake City proper. There are 23 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 3 high schools (Highland, East, and West), and 1 alternative high school (Horizonte) located within the school district.

Post-secondary educational options in Salt Lake City include the University of Utah, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, the BYU Salt Lake Center, and the LDS Business College. There are also many trade and technical schools, such as the Utah College of Massage Therapy. One of the main campuses of Salt Lake Community College is also here. The University of Utah is known as the birthplace of modern computer graphics.

See also: Salt Lake County - Education



Museums in Salt Lake City include:

  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts
  • Utah Museum of Natural History
  • Utah State Historical Society
  • Clark Planetarium
  • Daughters of Utah Pioneer Memorial Museum
  • Fort Douglas Military Museum
  • Museum of Church History and Art
  • Social Hall Heritage Museum

Salt Lake City provides many venues for both professional and amateur theatre. The city attracts many traveling Broadway and off-Broadway performances. Local professional acting companies include the Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake Acting Company and Plan-B Theatre Company.

Salt Lake City is the home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as well as the Utah Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1940 by Maurice Abravanel and has become widely renowned. It also has a typical music scene featuring local blues, rock, and punk groups. There are also many clubs which offer musical venues.

As evidence of Utah's burgeoning club music scene, over 200 bands submitted tracks for a 2004 compilation by a local music zine, SLUG ("Salt Lake Underground"). The 15-year-old free monthly zine trimmed the submissions to 59 selections featuring diverse music types such as hip-hop, jazz, jazz-rock, punk, and a healthy variety of rock and roll.

The University of Utah is home to two of the best dance deparments in the country, the Ballet Department and the Department of Modern Dance. Professional dance companies in Salt Lake City include Ballet West, Rire Woodbury, and Repratory Dance Theatre.


Although the city is often stereotyped as a predominantly Mormon city, it is in fact culturally and religiously diverse. The city is the location of many cultural activities, Mormon and otherwise. Some popular annual cultural celebrations include:

Utah Pride Festival 2004.  The Rainbow flag waves on the staff of the City and County building in the background.
Utah Pride Festival 2004. The Rainbow flag waves on the staff of the City and County building in the background.


See also: List of Salt Lake City media, Salt Lake City in film

As the capital and largest city in Utah, Salt Lake City has many diverse media outlets. Most of the major television and radio stations are based in or near the city.

Print media include newspapers, such as the one-time rivals The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret Morning News (both major daily newspapers) as well as the relatively new alternative weekly, the Salt Lake City Weekly. Other more specialized publications include Nuestro Mundo of the Spanish speaking community and Salt Lake Metro of the LBGT community. There are many local magazines, such as Salt Lake Magazine, a bimonthly lifestyle magazine, and SLUG, "Salt Lake UnderGround", an alternative underground music magazine.

Salt Lake City is ranked as the 31st largest radio[1] and 36th largest television[2] market in the United States.

The popular Salt Lake City Weekly publication.
The popular Salt Lake City Weekly publication.

KSL-TV, channel 5 is one of Utah's oldest television stations. KSL has downtown studios at "Broadcast House" in the Triad Center office complex. Most other television stations had, until recently moved out of the downtown core and relocated in the suburbs. However, KUTV was recently given a Redevelopment Agency (RDA) grant, and moved its studios to Main Street. Its newsdesk overlooks the street, with a large window behind the anchor desk. Because television and radio stations serve a larger area (usually the entire state of Utah, as well as parts of western Wyoming, southern Idaho and eastern Nevada) ratings returns tend to be higher than those in similar-sized cities. Some Salt Lake radio stations are carried on broadcast translator networks throughout the state.

Salt Lake City has become a case of market saturation on the FM dial; one cannot go through more than about two frequencies on an FM radio tuner before encountering another station broadcasting. A variety of companies, most notably Millcreek Broadcasting and Simmons Media, have constructed broadcast towers on Humpy Peak. These towers allow frequencies allocated to nearby mountain communities to be boosted by smaller, low-powered FM transmitters along the Wasatch Front. This practice has also occurred throughout major western U.S. population centers, mostly in areas where no large markets exist nearby. Other examples include Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver.

Sites of interest

Main article: Buildings and sites of Salt Lake City

Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City
Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City's downtown core houses an impressive collection of old and new structures with several twenty-plus story steel and glass towers adjacent to late nineteenth century brick and mortar. The tallest building in the city is the Wells Fargo Center, at 24 stories and 422 ft, although the LDS Church Office Building has more stories, at 28, and actually appears higher as it stands on slightly higher ground. The Wells Fargo is sometimes referred to as the American Stores Tower, but American Stores, a grocery chain, never moved in as it merged with Albertsons in 1999, and the building was subsequently sold to Wells Fargo. The third highest Salt Lake skyscraper is One Utah Center, adjacent to the Wells Fargo Center.

As the headquarters for the LDS Church, several top tourist draws exist in and around downtown Temple Square, including the Salt Lake Temple, the historic Tabernacle, and the newer LDS Conference Center which seats about 20,000. The LDS Genealogical Library, just west of Temple Square, ranks among Utah's most popular tourist destinations (along with Zion National Park).

Another popular attraction is the architecturally unique Salt Lake City Public Library, also currently one of Utah's top attractions. The Utah Jazz play at the Delta Center in western downtown near Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony Orchestra.

Future plans for Salt Lake include the Living Earth Aquarium (which is already running on a limited scale at the Gateway Mall) and the Leonardo, which will be a multi-faceted art, culture, and science center. The Leonardo will be housed in the old Salt Lake City main library building. [3] At the east end of town the University of Utah contains the Utah Museum of Natural History and the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon.

At the mouth of Emigration Canyon at the east end of town lies This Is The Place Heritage Park, a park that re-creates typical 19th century Mormon pioneer life. It is located at the point where Brigham Young stated "This is the right palce" when he looked out over the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Just across from This is the Place Heritage Park lies Hogle Zoo, which has recently bought empty land next to This is The Place for future expansion.

Sports and recreation

Skiing-only areas include destinations such as Alta and Deer Valley. Both skiing and snowboarding are available at Snowbird, Park City, Solitude, and Brighton. These six ski resorts, in addition to Sundance and The Canyons, are located within an hour's drive of Salt Lake City International Airport. The ski resorts see frequent storms which deposit light dry snow due to a phenomenon called the lake effect, where storms amplified by the warm waters of the Great Salt Lake precipitates in the Wasatch Mountains.

Most of the ski resorts also offer summer activities. The mountains around Salt Lake City are very popular for hiking, camping, rock-climbing, and mountain biking, as well as other related outdoor activities. The reservoirs and rivers in the Wasatch Mountains are very popular for boating, fishing, and other water-related activities. Salt Lake City is the primary jumping-off point for exploring the national parks and monuments and rugged terrain of the southern half of the state. The national parks of southern Utah are some of the most popular vacation areas in the country.

Logo of the Utah Jazz
Logo of the Real Salt Lake

Salt Lake City is home to the NBA team Utah Jazz and the Salt Lake Bees minor league baseball team, a Los Angeles Angels Triple A affiliate. Real Salt Lake, a new Major League Soccer franchise, began play in 2005 and currently plays at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah. The team has recently approved a soccer-specific stadium to be constructed in Sandy. The city hosts a hockey team, the Utah Grizzlies, which is the minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Salt Lake City had also received an expansion team from the revived American Basketball Association, known as the Utah Snowbears [4] in the 2005 season. However, the team folded after going 25–1 in the regular season and being well on their way to a championship. Salt Lake City will receive an Arena Football League team, the Utah Blaze, in 2006. The Utah Starzz of the WNBA were once located within the city, but moved to San Antonio and became the Silver Stars.


Main article: Transportation in Salt Lake City

TRAX on Main Street.  The light rail system connects the city using mass-transit to its suburbs.
TRAX on Main Street. The light rail system connects the city using mass-transit to its suburbs.

Salt Lake City has four major freeways. Interstate 15 runs north-south; Interstate 80 runs east-west; Utah State Route 201 (the 2100 South freeway) runs east-west along the border with West Valley City; and Interstate 215, a beltway, which traverses the city's northwest and west neighborhoods and encircles the city's southern suburbs. SR-201, I-15, and I-80 bisect one another at a "spaghetti bowl" interchange just south of the city in South Salt Lake. An additional freeway called the Mountain View Corridor, which is part of the Legacy Highway system, is proposed along the west side of the Wasatch Front, with construction set to begin as early as 2008 and completion after 2015. Utah State Route 154 (Bangerter Highway) is an expressway that provides access to the rapidly-growing western and southern cities of the Salt Lake Valley. It begins at Salt Lake City International Airport and connects to I-15 in Draper at the far south end of the valley. U.S. Highway 89 enters from Davis County to parallel to I-15 before heading southeast into downtown. In downtown, U.S. 89 becomes part of State Street, the main surface street through the center of the valley. It merges with I-15 near the Sandy/Draper border near the south end of the valley. Between 1998 and 2001, in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics, most of I-15 through the valley was completely reconstructed and expanded, as were parts of I-80 and I-215.

Passengers await their flights in a terminal of Salt Lake City International Airport, the major western hub of Delta Air Lines
Passengers await their flights in a terminal of Salt Lake City International Airport, the major western hub of Delta Air Lines

Salt Lake City's mass transit service is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and includes light rail and bus routes. The light rail system is known as TRAX and consists of two lines originating downtown. Both lines begin at the Delta Center near the western edge downtown and head east to Temple Square. From there they turn south through downtown. Near the courthouse, just south of downtown, the University Line heads east to the University of Utah, while the Sandy Line heads south. The Sandy Line serves the suburbs of South Salt Lake, Murray, Midvale, and Sandy and has a total of 17 stations. The University Line heads east to the University of Utah, passing by Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Huntsman Center, Fort Douglas, and ending at the University Medical Center, and contains a total of 7 stations. TRAX began service on December 4, 1999, and the University Line opened in 2001. A third line, branching off the existing Sandy line to reach West Jordan and South Jordan, was approved in July 2005 and should be completed by 2009. Plans to extend TRAX service to several other suburbs and the airport is currently under development. A commuter rail line running north from Salt Lake City into Davis and Weber counties began construction in August 2005 and is expected to be completed in spring 2008. In addition, a vintage trolley system is being planned for the Sugar House neighborhood.

UTA also operates extensive bus service that extends throughout the Wasatch Front from Brigham City in the north to Santaquin in the south and as far west as Grantsville. They also operate routes to the ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons during the ski season (typically November to April).

Salt Lake City International Airport, located 7 mi (11 km) west of downtown, is a hub of Delta Air Lines and has recently expanded service. Greyhound Bus Lines and Amtrak passenger trains provide intercity transportation connections. Ute Cab, City Cab, and Yellow Cab are the major taxi services.

Sister cities

The following are sister cities of Salt Lake City[5]:


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