Map of Salt Lake City and Downtown
Downtown Salt Lake City is usually defined as the area approximately between North Temple and 400 South Streets north to south and about 500 East and 600 West Streets east to west. Downtown encompasses the areas of Temple Square
, The Gateway
, Main Street, the central business district, South Temple, and others. Along with local and state government and non profits, two primary business organizations - the Salt Lake Chamber and the Downtown Alliance promote Salt Lake CIty's downtown as the heart of the state, and as its most lively and diverse locale.
Downtown's layout was first planned in 1833, 17 years before Salt Lake City was founded. Joseph Smith
designed the Plat of Zion
, a plan for cities of 20,000 people each that followed city blocks with self-sufficient family farms surrounding several temples
in the center. Smith meant for this plan to be applied to the City of Zion
in the Midwestern United States, but following persecution and Smith's assassination, the plans were carried westward by the Mormon pioneers
. Downtown Salt Lake began to form in 1847 when Brigham Young
chose the site of the Salt Lake Temple
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, forming the core of the settlement. Temple Square
became the center of the grid system, bounded by South Temple, West Temple, North Temple, and East Temple Streets. Streets are named according to their distance and direction from the southeast corner of Temple Square; for example 200 West is two blocks west of this meridian, while 400 South is four blocks south. East Temple was popularly known as Main Street, and was officially renamed sometime in the late 19th century. It remains as the commercial and economic center of the city today.
The first businesses to locate on Main Street were those founded by James A. Livingston and Charles A. Kincade, in 1850, in the area south of the Council House
that was being built on the corner of Main and South Temple Streets. The Mormon pioneers lived a very secluded existence in the remote Salt Lake Valley for the first 20 years of settlement, beginning construction of the Salt Lake Temple
and other monuments like the Salt Lake Theatre
. However, in 1865 U.S. troops stationed in Park City discovered silver and announced it to the world.
With this announcement, an entirely new element began streaming into Salt Lake City. Prospectors completely changed the downtown district. In accommodation of the new crowd, many of the Main Street businesses were saloons
, earning the street the nickname "Whiskey Street".
For many years, there existed a political and cultural divide in Salt Lake City. Mormons
would mostly shop and congregate around the Salt Lake Temple
, the Gardens at Temple Square
and ZCMI on the north-end of Main Street, and those who were not members of the church, who were mostly prospectors in the early days, would stay south of the predominantly Mormon area. This divide still can be felt to the present day, particularly on weekend evenings when the businesses on the north side of downtown close their doors early while the bars and restaurants on the south end of downtown host crowds late into the night.
Originally, the business district extended along the west side of Main between South Temple and 100 South. By the 1880s, the area had expanded to both sides of the street and down to 200 South, and increased about a block a decade, until 1900, when it reached 400 South. Today, the southern limit of downtown Salt Lake City is usually considered to be 900 South.
From 1870 to the 1930s, Commercial Street (Now known as "Regent Street") was Salt Lake's notorious red light district
was begrudgingly tolerated as long as it was confined to Commercial Street, thus kept out of the public eye. In the late 1880s, the trade was unofficially licensed. Police would "arrest" all of the prostitutes and their madams each month and "fine" them $50 each. After a physical examination, they would be released and allowed to ply their trade without any further fear of molestation. Many notable Salt Lakers
owned buildings on Commercial Street, including the Brigham Young Trust Company, whose board included many prominent members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(LDS Church). Brigham Young, Jr.
, then a church Apostle
and vice president of the bank, temporarily resigned over the matter, until the building was later sold.
Main Street, Salt Lake City in the early 20th Century
Salt Lake City boomed in the years before World War I
and the center of mass of downtown was pulled southward by the efforts of Samuel Newhouse
and other non-LDS community members. The Exchange Place Historic District
encompasses the surviving structures from this era. In 1912, at the intersection of Main Street and 200 South, police officer Lester Wire
installed his homemade electric traffic light
, the first of its kind in the world.
Salt Lake had an extensive streetcar
network at the time and Trolley Square
served as its main depot for years before the gradual removal of the system that came with the rise of the automobile.
Though the trolley system itself is now long gone, Trolley Square remains as a noteworthy example of adaptive reuse
and houses a museum dedicated to the history of the city's streetcars.
After World War II
, many people could afford to move out of downtown into the suburbs
. By 1971, 60% of the homes in downtown Salt Lake City were in major disrepair. Starting in the 1960s, revitalization efforts began, spearheaded by the LDS Church, which had always considered downtown its home. During the '70s, the Church built the ZCMI Center Mall
on a full city block of land that had previously housed the ZCMI
department store, preserving the historic storefront. The Church also leased land to a developer to build Crossroads Mall. The land for the mall originally housed the Amussen Jewelry
building (1869), at the time Salt Lake City's oldest building. A study commissioned by the city found it to be Salt Lake City's most architecturally significant building, and efforts to preserve it were underway. However, before the building could be saved, it was torn down to make way for the mall
. Many historic buildings were lost to urban renewal
during this era, the most notable of which was the Dooly Building
, built in 1892 and designed by Louis Sullivan
. The LDS Church Office Building
was completed in 1973 and became Salt Lake's tallest building at 28 floors and 420 ft tall. Contrary to a popular local legend, there is no formal restriction that prevents buildings from being built taller than the Church Office Building.
From 1970-1976 the Central Main Street shopping district saw a dramatic shift from the South-end (near Exchange Place and Broadway) to the North-end (near the L.D.S Temple). This shift was the result of a change in buying patterns, with shoppers preferring malls rather than on-street department stores. Using land and a loan provided by Zion Securities, the second Main Street mall was completed in 1978. Following the completion of the Crossroads Mall, the south-end of Main Street collapsed, beginning with 117-year-old merchant Auerbachs Department Store. Others to go under were Broadway Music, Paris Company, Baker Shoes, Pembroke's, Keith O'Brien and Keith Warshaw.
In the 1980s, a Saudi
businessman, Adnan Khashoggi
, had a vision of turning Salt Lake City into a major business hub. Forming a U.S. holdings company, "Triad Utah", he planned to build two 43-story skyscrapers
, as well as several mid-rise buildings at the Triad Center
. Khashoggi was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal
and his assets were frozen by the Federal government and the skyscrapers were never built, leaving the current Triad Center
with only buildings 3, 4 and 5. Revitalization efforts of downtown continued through the 1980s and 1990s, with noteworthy projects that included the demolition of the Hotel Newhouse
in 1983 and the redevelopment of Block 57 into the Gallivan Center
and One Utah Center
Downtown took center stage in the 2002 Winter Olympics
, hosted by Salt Lake City, and there were efforts to beautify the city and improve transit options for visitors. The Gateway
, a large outdoor, pedestrian-oriented mall, was built around the historic Union Pacific Depot
and hosts the Salt Lake Olympic Plaza. The TRAX light rail
system was built in the years leading up to the Olympics and directly connects downtown to the University of Utah, Salt Lake International Airport, and many of the suburbs including South Salt Lake
, West Valley City
, and Draper
The construction of the $1.5 billion mixed-use City Creek Center
from 2006 to 2012, which covers 20 acres (81,000 m2
) across three city blocks, marked a significant step toward bringing business interest and pedestrian activity back to downtown. The development included nearly 725,000 square feet (67,400 m2
) of retail space, new and refurbished office towers, new residential buildings, and a full-service grocery store.
In 2016, a new Broadway-style theatre, the 2,468-seat Eccles Theatre
, and a connected 24-story office building, 111 Main, were completed one block south. Downtown is now seeing an "unprecedented" level of real estate development,
with multiple large towers under construction despite the COVID-19 Pandemic
, and has more than 5,000 residential units either planned or under construction as of April 2021.
This includes the forthcoming construction of the new tallest building in Utah, the Astra Tower, which will stand 39-stories tall.
, on the western edge of downtown, developed a reputation as one of the most crime-ridden areas of the state, and as having a large number of drug dealers. During a six-day crackdown in early November, 2007, 658 people were arrested in and around the park, approximately 70% of all arrests made in the city during that time period in an area that takes up just 1% of Salt Lake City.
Pioneer Park was completely renovated in early 2008 following several severe assault incidents. After the controversial Operation Rio Grande
, which began in 2017, and the closure and demolition of the Road Home homeless shelter in 2019 and 2020, respectively, the Pioneer Park area has begun to see a dramatic reduction in crime and a resulting trend of gentrification
- ^ Benson, Lee (2021-01-03). "The rather unremarkable tale of Lester Wire, and the rather remarkable invention that changed the world". Deseret News. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ "Our History". Trolley Square. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ "City Creek Center Opens". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ "Downtown SLC, punctuated by cranes, undergoing 'unprecedented development'". ABC4 Utah. 2021-06-05. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ "We now know what will replace the former Road Home homeless shelter". Building Salt Lake. 2021-04-13. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ Taylor Anderson (2019-09-05). "Meet the Kensington Tower, the high-rise that would join Utah's tallest buildings in Salt Lake City's skyline". Building Salt Lake. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
- ^ Reavy, Pat (November 15, 2007). "Drugs targeted in Pioneer Park". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- ^ "The state of Utah sells former shelter property to a local developer". Building Salt Lake. 2021-02-12. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
Last edited on 12 June 2021, at 04:16
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.