Cities Near Salt Lake City, UT
Local city information for Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City
is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. The name of the city is often shortened to Salt Lake
. Salt Lake City has a population of 180,651 as of 2007. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area spans Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, and has a total estimated population of 1,099,973. Salt Lake City is further situated in a larger urban area known as the Wasatch Front and is part of the Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield CSA that has an estimated population of 1,686,703. The total estimated population of the Wasatch Front is approximately 2,150,000.
The city was founded in 1847 as Great Salt Lake City by a group of Mormon pioneers led by their prophet, Brigham Young, who fled hostility and violence in the Midwestern United States. They extensively irrigated and cultivated the arid valley and faced persecution from the U.S. government for their practice of polygamy, which was abandoned in 1890. Today, Salt Lake City is still home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, also known as the Mormon Church). Mining booms and the construction of the first transcontinental railroad initially brought economic growth, and the city was nicknamed the Crossroads of the West. Salt Lake City has since developed a strong outdoor recreation tourist industry based primarily on skiing. Salt Lake City was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics and is the industrial banking center of the United States.
Before Mormon settlement, the Shoshone, Ute, and Paiute had dwelt in the Salt Lake Valley for thousands of years. However, occupation was seasonal, near streams emptying from Canyons into the Salt Lake Valley. The first US explorer in the Salt Lake area is believed to be Jim Bridger in 1825, although others had been in Utah earlier, some as far north as the nearby Utah Valley (the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 were undoubtedly cognizant of the Salt Lake valley). U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont surveyed the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Valley in 1843 and 1845. The Donner party, a group of ill-fated pioneers, had traveled through the Great Salt Lake Valley in August 1846.
The first permanent settlements in the valley date to the arrival of the Latter-day Saints on July 24, 1847. They had traveled beyond the boundaries of the United States seeking an isolated area to practice their religion, away from the hostility they had faced in the East. Upon arrival, President of the Church Brigham Young is recorded as stating, "this is the place", after seeing the area in a vision. They found the broad valley empty of any human settlement.
Four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young designated the site for the Salt Lake Temple, intended to be the third temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to replace the abandoned Kirtland Temple in Ohio and Nauvoo Temple in Illinois.
Constructed on Temple Square, in the center of the city, the temple took 40 years to complete, being started in 1853 and dedicated on April 6, 1893. These delays meant that temples in St. George, Logan and Manti were completed before the Salt Lake Temple The temple has become iconic of the city and is its centerpiece. In fact, the southeast corner of Temple Square is the initial point of reference for the Salt Lake Meridian, and for all addresses in the Salt Lake Valley.
The Mormon pioneers organized a new state called Deseret and petitioned for its recognition in 1849. The United States Congress rebuffed the settlers in 1850 and established the Utah Territory, vastly reducing its size. 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 American Old West.
Disputes with the federal government ensued over the widespread Mormon practice of polygamy. A climax occurred in 1857 when President James Buchanan declared the area in rebellion after Brigham Young refused to step down as governor, beginning the Utah War. A division of the United States Army, commanded by Albert Sidney Johnston, later a general in the army of the Confederate States of America, marched through the city and found that it had been evacuated. This division set up Camp Floyd approximately 40 miles (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 incarcerated at the territorial prison in Sugar House in the 1880s for violation of anti-polygamy laws. The LDS Church began their eventual abandonment of polygamy in 1890, releasing "The Manifesto," which officially suggested that members obey the law of the land (which was equivalent to forbidding new polygamous marriages inside the U.S. and its territories, but not in Mormon settlements in Canada and Mexico). 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. Ethnic Chinese (who laid most of the Central Pacific railway) established a flourishing Chinatown in Salt Lake City nicknamed "Plum Alley," which housed around 1,800 Chinese during the early 20th century. The Chinese businesses and residences were demolished in 1952 although a historical marker has been erected among the commercial buildings which have replaced Plum Alley. Immigrants also found economic opportunities in the booming mining industries. Remnants of a once-thriving Japantown - namely a Buddhist temple and Japanese Christian chapel - still remain in downtown Salt Lake City. European ethnic groups constructed St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in 1874, the Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1905 and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine in 1909. This time period also saw the creation of Salt Lake City's now defunct red-light district that employed 300 courtesans at its height before being closed down in 1911.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an extensive streetcar system was constructed throughout the city with the first streetcar running in 1872 and electrification of the system in 1889. As in the rest of the country, the automobile usurped the streetcar and the last trolley ran in 1945. Rail transit was re-introduced when TRAX, a light rail system, opened in 1999.
The city's population began to stagnate during the 20th century as population growth shifted to suburban areas north and south of the city. Few of these areas were annexed to the city, while nearby towns incorporated and expanded themselves. As a result, the population of the surrounding metropolitan area greatly outnumbers that of Salt Lake City. A major concern of recent government officials has been combating inner-city commercial decay. The city lost population from the 1960s through the 1980s, but experienced some recovery in the 1990s. Presently, the city is losing population again (though that of the metro area continues to grow), having lost an estimated 2 percent of its population since the year 2000.
The city has experienced significant demographic shifts in recent years. Hispanics now account for approximately 19% of residents and the city has a large gay community. There is also a large Pacific Islander population, mainly made up of Samoans and Tongans; they compose roughly 1% of the population of the Salt Lake Valley area.
Salt Lake City was selected to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995. The games were plagued with controversy. A bid scandal surfaced in 1998 alleging that bribes had been offered to secure the city for the 2000 games location. 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. Olympic venues are now used for local, national, and international sporting events and Olympic athlete training. Tourism has increased since the Olympic games, but business did not pick up immediately following them.
Salt Lake City hosted the 16th Winter Deaflympic games in 2007, taking place in the venues in Salt Lake City and Park City, and Rotary International chose the city as the host site of their 2007 convention, which was the single largest gathering in Salt Lake City since the 2002 Winter Olympics. The U.S. Volleyball Association convention in 2005 drew 39,500 attendees.
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