All About Salt Lake City, Utah Geographic Area
Salt Lake City, often shortened to Salt Lake or SLC, is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. With a population of 189,899 as of the 2011 estimate, the city lies in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a total population of 1,145,905. Salt Lake City is further situated in a larger urban area known as the Wasatch Front, which has a population of 2,328,299. It is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin (the other being Reno, Nevada), and the largest in the Intermountain West.
The city was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, Isaac Morley, George Washington Bradley and several other Mormon followers, who extensively irrigated and cultivated the arid valley. Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named "Great Salt Lake City"—the word "great" was dropped from the official name in 1868. Although Salt Lake City is still home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), fewer than half the population of Salt Lake City proper are members of the LDS Church today.
Immigration of international LDS members, mining booms, and the construction of the first transcontinental railroad initially brought economic growth, and the city was nicknamed the Crossroads of the West. It was traversed by the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway, in 1913, and presently two major cross-country freeways, I-15 and I-80, intersect in the city. Salt Lake City has since developed a strong outdoor recreation tourist industry based primarily on skiing, and was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. It 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. At the time of the founding of Salt Lake City, the valley was within the territory of the Northwestern Shoshone; however, occupation was seasonal, near streams emptying from Canyons into the Salt Lake Valley. The land was treated by the United States as public domain; no aboriginal title by the Northwestern Shoshone was ever recognized by the United States or extinguished by treaty with the United States. 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, far away from the violence and the persecution they experienced in the East. Upon arrival at the Salt Lake Valley, President of the Church Brigham Young is recorded as stating, "This is the right place, drive on". Brigham Young claimed to have seen the area in a vision prior to the wagontrain's arrival. They found the broad valley empty of any human settlement.
Four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young designated the building site for the Salt Lake Temple, which would eventually become a famous Mormon and Salt Lake City landmark.
The Salt Lake Temple, constructed on the block that would later be called Temple Square, took 40 years to complete. Construction started in 1853, and the temple was dedicated on April 6, 1893. The temple has become an icon for the city and serves as 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, and designated Fillmore as its capital city. 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 continued to swell with an influx of Mormon converts and Gold Rush gold seekers, making it one of the most populous cities in the American Old West.
Explorer, ethnologist, and author Richard Francis Burton traveled by coach in the summer of 1860 to document life in Great Salt Lake City, to investigate the claims of anti-Mormonists of his day, and to broaden his knowledge of the new faith. He was granted unprecedented access during his three-week visit, including audiences with President Brigham Young and other still living contemporaries of Joseph Smith. The records of his visit include sketches of the early city buildings, a description of local geography and agriculture, commentary on its politics and social order, essays, speeches, and sermons from Brigham Young, Isaac Morley, George Washington Bradley and other prominent leaders, and snapshots of everyday life such as newspaper clippings and the menu from a high-society ball.
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 near the parking ramp which has 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 and East Coast missionary 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 22% of residents and the city has a significant gay community]]. There is also a large Pacific Islander population, mainly made up of Samoans and Tongans; they compose roughly 2% 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 2002 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,[not in citation given] but business did not pick up immediately following them. Salt Lake City has expressed interest in bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics
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.
Salt Lake City has a total area of 110.4 square miles (285.9 km²) and an average elevation of 4,327 feet (1,320 m) above sea level. The lowest point within the boundaries of the city is 4,210 feet (1,280 m) near the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake, and the highest is Grandview Peak, at 9,410 feet (2,868 m).
The city is located in the northeast corner of the Salt Lake Valley surrounded by the Great Salt Lake to the northwest and the steep Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges on the eastern and western borders, respectively. Its encircling mountains contain many narrow glacial and stream carved canyons. Among them, City Creek, Emigration, Millcreek, and Parley's border the eastern city limits.
The Great Salt Lake is separated from Salt Lake City by extensive marshlands and mudflats. The metabolic activities of bacteria in the lake result in a phenomenon known as "lake stink", a scent reminiscent of foul poultry eggs, two to three times per year for a few hours. The Jordan River flows through the city and is a drainage of Utah Lake that empties into the Great Salt Lake.
The highest mountaintop visible from Salt Lake City is Twin Peaks, which reaches 11,330 feet (3454 m). Twin Peaks is located southeast of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Range. The Wasatch Fault is found along the western base of the Wasatch and is considered overdue for an earthquake as large as 7.5. Catastrophic damage is predicted in the event of an earthquake with major damage resulting from the liquefaction of the clay- and sand-based soil and the possible permanent flooding of portions of the city by the Great Salt Lake.
The second-highest mountain range is the Oquirrhs, reaching a maximum height of 10,620 feet (3,237 m) at Flat Top. The Traverse Mountains to the south extend to 6,000 feet (1,830 m), nearly connecting the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. The mountains near Salt Lake City are easily visible from the city and have sharp vertical relief caused by massive ancient earthquakes, with a maximum difference of 7,099 feet (2164 m) being achieved with the rise of Twin Peaks from the Salt Lake Valley floor.
The Salt Lake Valley floor is the ancient lakebed of Lake Bonneville which existed at the end of the last Ice Age. Several Lake Bonneville shorelines can be distinctly seen on the foothills or benches of nearby mountains.
The city, as well as the county, is laid out on a grid plan. Most major streets run very nearly north-south and east-west. The grid's 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; the north-south axis is Main Street; and the east-west axis is South Temple Street. Addresses are coordinates within the system (similarly to latitude and longitude). The streets are relatively wide, at the direction of Brigham Young, who wanted them wide enough that a wagon team could turn around without "resorting to profanity." These wide streets and grid pattern are typical of other Mormon towns of the pioneer era throughout the West.
Though the nomenclature may initially confuse new arrivals and visitors, most consider the grid system an aid to navigation. Some streets have names, such as State Street, which would otherwise be known as 100 East. Other streets have honorary names, such as the western portion of 300 South, named “Adam Galvez Street” (in honor of a local Marine corporal killed in action) or others honoring Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., César Chávez, and John Stockton. These honorary names appear only on street signs and cannot be used in postal addresses.
In the Avenues neighborhood, north-south streets are given letters of the alphabet, and east-west streets are numbered in 2.5-acre (1.0 ha) blocks, smaller than those in the rest of the city.
Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, planned the layout in the "Plat of the City of Zion" (intended as a template for Mormon towns wherever they might be built). In his plan the city was to be developed into 135 10-acre (4.0 ha) lots. However, the blocks in Salt Lake City became irregular during the late 19th century when the LDS Church lost authority over growth and before the adoption of zoning ordinances in the 1920s. The original 10-acre (4.0 ha) blocks allowed for large garden plots, and many were supplied with irrigation water from ditches that ran approximately where modern curbs and gutters would be laid. The original water supply was from City Creek. Subsequent development of water resources was from successively more southern streams flowing from the mountains to the east of the city. Some of the old irrigation ditches are still visible in the eastern suburbs, or are still marked on maps, years after they were gone.
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. Housing is more affordable on the west side, which results in demographic differences. Interstate 15 was also built in a north-south line, further dividing east and west sides of the city.
The west side of the city has historically been a working-class neighborhood, but recently the more affordable nature of the area has enticed many professionals to the neighborhood. For example, the small, increasingly trendy Marmalade District on the west side of Capitol Hill, considered seedy as recently as 5 years ago, was heavily gentrified and is now an eclectic and desirable location. During the 1970s and 1980s, gang activity was also centered in the western neighborhoods of Rose Park, Poplar Grove, and Glendale.
Sugar House, in southeastern Salt Lake City, has a reputation as a liberal neighborhood and until recently possessed a district of locally owned specialty and niche shops on the corner of 2100 South and 1100 East. The stores that once occupied the street have recently moved to new locations to make way for a condominium and office complex, although the developers have stated that they wish to maintain the character of the area, and retail shops will be allowed at street-level once the complex is completed. Despite these assurances, residents have been very vocal in their concerns that the neighborhood will lose its unique eclectic appeal and have panned what they call the destruction of one of the few locally owned business districts in the valley.
Just northeast of Downtown is The Avenues, a neighborhood outside of the regular grid system on much smaller blocks. The area from South Temple North to 6th Avenue is a Historical District that is nearly entirely residential, and contains many historical Victorian era homes. Recently the Avenues is becoming known for intimate restaurants and shops opening in old retail space mixed within the community like Hatch Family Chocolates, Avenues Bistro on Third and Jack Mormon Coffee. The Avenues are situated on the upward-sloping bench in the foothills of the Wasatch Range, with the earlier built homes in the lower elevation. The Avenues, along with Federal Heights, just to the east and north of the University of Utah, and the Foothill area, south of the University, contain gated communities, large, multi-million dollar houses, and fantastic views of the valley. Many consider this some of the most desirable real estate in the valley.
In addition to larger centers like Sugar House and Downtown, Salt Lake City contains several smaller neighborhoods, each named after the closest major intersection. Two examples are the 9th and 9th (located at the intersection of 900 East and 900 South Streets) and 15th & 15th (located at the intersection of 1500 East and 1500 South Streets) neighborhoods. These areas are home to foot-traffic friendly, amenities-based businesses such as art galleries, clothing retail, salons, restaurants and coffee shops. During the summer of 2007, 9th and 9th saw sidewalk and street improvements as well as an art installation by Troy Pillow of Seattle, Washington inspired by the 9 Muses of Greek myth, thanks in part to a monetary grant from Salt Lake City.
Many of the homes in the valley date from pre–World War II times, and only a select few areas, such as Federal Heights and the East Bench, as well as the far west side, including parts of Rose Park and Glendale, have seen new home construction since the 1970s.
The climate of Salt Lake City is characterized as semi-arid (Köppen BSk), with four distinct seasons. Both summer and winter are long, with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters, and with spring and fall serving as brief but comfortable transition periods. The city receives 16.50 inches (419 mm) of precipitation annually. Spring is the wettest season, while summer is very dry. Snow occurs on average from November 6 to April 18, producing a total average of 61.0 inches (155 cm). The snowiest season was 1951-52, with 117.3 inches (298 cm), while the least snowy season was 16.6 inches (42 cm) in 1933-34. The snowiest month on record was January 1993, in which 50.3 inches (128 cm) were recorded.
The primary source of precipitation in Salt Lake City is massive Pacific storms that move in from the Pacific Ocean along the jet stream from approximately October through May. Particularly cold storms have brought measurable snow as early as September 17 and as late as May 24. The nearby Great Salt Lake can help enhance rain from some of these storms and produces lake-effect snow approximately 6 to 8 times per year, some of which can drop excessive snowfalls. It is estimated that about 10% of the annual precipitation in the city can be attributed to the lake effect. After the Pacific train of storms has shut off and the jet stream has retreated far to the north during summer, the primary source of precipitation is afternoon thunderstorms generated by monsoon moisture moving up from the Gulf of California during mid-to-late summer. Although rainfall can be heavy, these storms are usually scattered in coverage and rarely severe. The remnants of tropical cyclones from the East Pacific can very occasionally make their way into the city during September and October. The remnants of Hurricane Olivia helped bring the record monthly precipitation of 7.04 inches (179 mm) in September 1982. 1983 was the wettest year on record, with 24.26 inches (616 mm). This occurred during a particularly wet period - 1982, 1983, and 1984 were 3 of the 4 wettest years on record. The driest year occurred just 4 years previously in 1979, when 8.70 inches (221 mm) were recorded.
Salt Lake City features large variations in temperatures between seasons. During summer, there are an average of 56 days per year with temperatures of at least 90 °F (32.2 °C), 23 days of at least 95 °F (35 °C), and 5 days of 100 °F (37.8 °C). However, average daytime July humidity is only 22%, causing these extreme temperatures to feel relatively comfortable. Winters are quite cold but rarely frigid. While there are an average of 127 days that drop to or below freezing, and 26 days with high temperatures that fail to rise above freezing, the city only averages 2.3 days at or below 0 °F (−17.8 °C). The record high temperature is 107 °F (42 °C), which occurred first on July 26, 1960 and again on July 13, 2002, while the record low is −30 °F (−34 °C), which occurred on February 9, 1933.
During mid-winter, strong areas of high pressure often situate themselves over the Great Basin, leading to strong temperature inversions. This causes air stagnation and thick smog in the valley from several days to weeks at a time and can result in the worst air-pollution levels in the U.S., reducing air quality to unhealthy levels. Aside from occasional heavy snows in winter, severe weather is very rare. However, an F2 tornado did hit downtown on August 11, 1999, killing 1 person, injuring 60, and causing $170 million in damage. In addition, snowmelt from the surrounding mountains can cause localized stream flooding during late spring and early summer, the worst examples being in 1952 and especially 1983, when City Creek burst its banks, forcing city engineers to convert several downtown streets, including State Street, into waterways.
At the 2010 Census, the city's population was 75.1% White, 2.7% Black, 1.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.4% Asian, 2.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 10.7% from some other race and 3.7% from two or more races. 22.3% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Salt Lake City's population has historically been predominantly white. Between 1860 and 1950 whites represented about 99% of the city's population.
37.0% of the population had a Bachelor's degree or higher. 18.5% of the population was foreign born and another 1.1% was born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s). 27.0% spoke a language other than English at home.
As of the census of 2010, there are 186,440 people (up from 181,743 in 2000), 75,177 households, and 57,543 families residing in the city. This amounts to 6.75% of Utah's population, 18.11% of Salt Lake County's population, and 16.58% of the new Salt Lake metropolitan population. The area within the city limits covers 14.2% of Salt Lake County. Salt Lake City is more densely populated than the surrounding metro area with a population density of 1,688.77/sq mi (1,049.36/km²). There are 80,724 housing units at an average density of 731.2 per square mile (454.35/km²).
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% increase over the 1990 figure of 1,072,227. Since the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau has 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. The Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield combined statistical area, together with the Provo-Orem metropolitan area, which lies to the south, have a combined population of 2,094,035 as of July 1, 2008.
There are 75,177 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 other types of households. Of the 75,177 households, 3,904 were reported to be unmarried partner households: 3,047 heterosexual, 458 same-sex male, and 399 same-sex female. 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.
The city's age distribution was (as of 2000):
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.
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.
Less than 50% of Salt Lake City's residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a much lower proportion than in Utah's more rural municipalities; altogether, LDS members make up about 62% of Utah's population.
The Rose Park and Glendale sections are predominantly Spanish-speaking with Latinos accounting for 60% of public school-children. The Centro Civico Mexicano acts as a community gathering point for the Wasatch Front's estimated 300,000 Latinos, Mexican President Vicente Fox began his U.S. tour in the city in 2006. Bosnian, Sudanese, Afghani, Bantu, and Burmese immigrants have settled in the city under government programs. The large Pacific Islander population, mainly Samoan and Tongan, is also centered in the Rose Park, Glendale, and Poplar Grove sectors. Most of Salt Lake City's ethnic Pacific Islanders are members of the LDS Church though various Samoan and Tongan-speaking congregations are situated throughout the Salt Lake area including Samoan Congregational, Tongan Wesleyan Methodist, and Roman Catholic. Just outside of Salt Lake City limits, newer immigrant communities include Nepalis, and refugees of Karen origin from Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Salt Lake City has been considered one of the top 51 "gay-friendly places to live" in the U.S. The city is home to a large, business savvy, organized, and politically supported homosexual community. Leaders of the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Utah, as well as leaders of Utah's largest Jewish congregation, the Salt Lake Kol Ami, along with three elected representatives of the city identify themselves as gay. These developments have attracted controversy from socially conservative officials representing other regions of the state. A 2006 study by UCLA estimates that approximately 7.6% of the city's population, or almost 14,000 people, are openly homosexual or bisexual, compared to just 3.7%, or just over 60,000 people, for the metropolitan area as a whole.
In 2007 Salt Lake City was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the most vain city in America based on the number of plastic surgeons per 100,000 and their spending habits on cosmetics, which exceed that of cities of similar size. However, this likely reflects a concentration of plastic surgeons within the city limits but whose client base includes the entire metropolitan area. Forbes Magazine also found the city to be the 8th most stressful. In contrast to the 2007 ranking by Forbes, a 2010 study conducted by Portfolio.com and bizjournals concluded Salt Lake City was the least stressful city in the United States.
A 2008 study by Men's Health and Women's Health magazines found Salt Lake City to be the healthiest city for women by looking at 38 different factors, including cancer rates, air quality and the number of gym memberships.
The modern economy of Salt Lake City is service-oriented. In the past, nearby steel, mining and railroad operations provided a strong source of income with Silver King Coalition Mines, Geneva Steel, Bingham Canyon Mine, and oil refineries. Today the city's major industries are government, trade, transportation, utilities, and professional and business services. The city is known as the "Crossroads of the West" for its central geography in the western United States. The daytime population of Salt Lake City proper swells to over 315,000 people, not including tourists or students.
Local, state, and federal governments have a large presence in the city, and trade, transportation, and utilities also take up a significant portion of employment, with the major employer being the western North America Delta Air Lines hub at Salt Lake City International Airport. Equally significant are the professional and business services, while health services and health educational services are significant areas of employment, including the largest health care provider in the Intermountain West, Intermountain Health Care. 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 LDS Church owns and operates a profit division, Deseret Management Corporation and its subsidiaries, which are headquartered in the city.
Salt Lake City is home to one Fortune 500 company, Huntsman Corporation, and two Fortune 1000 companies, Zions Bancorporation and Questar Corporation. Other notable firms headquartered in the city include AlphaGraphics, Sinclair Oil Corporation, Smith's Food and Drug (owned by national grocer Kroger), MonaVie, Myriad Genetics, and Vehix.com. Notable firms based in nearby cities within the metropolitan area include Arctic Circle Restaurants, FranklinCovey, and Overstock.com. Metropolitan Salt Lake was also once the headquarters of American Stores, the Skaggs Companies, and ZCMI, one of the first department stores; it is currently owned by Macy's, Inc. Former ZCMI stores now operate under the Macy's label. High-tech firms with a large presence in the suburbs include eBay, Unisys, Siebel, Micron, L-3 Communications, Telarus, and 3M.
Other economic activities include tourism, conventions, and major suburban call centers. Tourism has increased since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and many hotels and restaurants were built for the events. The convention industry has expanded since the construction of the Salt Palace convention center in the late 1990s, which hosts trade shows and conventions, including the annual Outdoor Retailers meeting and Novell's annual BrainShare convention.
In 2006, the largest potato producer in Idaho, the United Potato Growers of America, announced that it would relocate its headquarters to Salt Lake City, citing its need for a large international airport, being that Salt Lake City International is the 22nd busiest in the world in combined freight and passengers. The announcement led some members of the Idaho legislature to propose legislation changing the state license plate, which currently reads "Famous Potatoes".
In 2005, it was found that the downtown area was experiencing rapid population growth. The number of residential units in the central business district has increased by 80% since 1995, and is forecast to nearly double in the next decade. The City Creek development of the LDS Church will be adding 300 units in its first phase including the 415 ft (126 m) tall City Creek condominium tower. Allen Millo Associates currently has two projects under construction and two more planned. All 200 units have been sold before construction of a seven-story condominium planned by Wood Property. A residential tower is planned for Trolley Square, and this follows the recent completion of the Northgate Apartments and 12-story condominiums at Gateway with two more buildings finished nearby and the Liberty Metro apartments near Library Square.
Office vacancy rates are low in the downtown region. In response, two new large buildings are being constructed. The first is eight stories and located in the Gateway District, while the second will be 22 stories high and is currently under construction on Main Street. In addition, the historic Walker Bank Building is currently undergoing major renovations that will enable it to achieve Class A office space status. Construction of the Gateway District, light rail, and planned commuter rail service have supported the revival of downtown.
Since 1979 Salt Lake City has had a nonpartisan 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 November, 2011. Luke Garrott was re-elected to a second term, while Charlie Luke and Kyla LaMalfa were elected in upset victories over incumbents J.T. Martin and Van Turner. Soren Simonsen was elected by his peers as the Council Chair in January 2012.
Elections are held in odd-numbered years. The years listed above correspond to the next election cycle; the winning candidate will take office in January of the following year.
Labor politics play no significant role. The city has two elected openly gay women and an openly gay man, representing the city in the State House and Senate, respectively.
The separation of church and state was the most heated topic in the days of the Liberal Party and People's Party of Utah, when many candidates would be LDS Church bishops. This tension is still reflected today with the Bridging the Religious Divide campaign. This campaign was initiated when some city residents complained that the Utah political establishment was unfair in its dealings with non-LDS residents by giving the LDS Church preferential treatment, while LDS residents perceived a growing anti-Mormon bias in city politics.
The city's political demographics are liberal and Democratic. This stands in stark contrast to the majority of Utah where conservative and Republican views generally dominate.
The city is home to several non-governmental think-tanks and advocacy groups such as the conservative Sutherland Institute, the gay-rights group Equality Utah, and the quality-growth advocates Envision Utah. Salt Lake hosted many foreign dignitaries during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and in 2006 the President of Mexico began his U.S. tour in the city and Israel's ambassador to the United States opened a cultural center. President George W. Bush visited in 2005 and again in 2006 for national veterans' conventions; both visits were protested by then-Mayor Rocky Anderson. Other political leaders such as Howard Dean and Harry Reid gave speeches in the city in 2005.
In 1847 pioneer Jane Dillworth held the first classes in her tent for the children of the first LDS families. In the last part of the 19th century, there was much controversy over how children in the area should be educated. LDS and non-LDS could not agree on the level of religious influence in schools. Today, many LDS youths in grades 9 through 12 attend some form of religious instruction, referred to as seminary. Students are released from public schools at various times of the day to attend seminary. LDS seminaries are usually located on church-owned property adjacent to the public school and within walking distance.
Because of high birth rates and large classrooms, Utah spends less per student than any other state yet simultaneously spends more per capita than any state with the exception of Alaska. 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 most of the area within the city limits. There are twenty-three K-6 elementary schools, five 7-8 middle schools, three 9-12 high schools (Highland, East, and West, with the former South High being converted to the South City campus of the Salt Lake Community College), and an alternative high school (Horizonte) located within the school district. In addition, Highland has recently been selected as the site for the charter school Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts (SPA). Many Catholic schools are located in the city, including Judge Memorial High School. Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School, established in 1867 by Episcopal Bishop Daniel Tuttle, is the area's premier independent school.
The Salt Lake City Public Library system consists of the main library downtown, and five branches in various neighborhoods. The main library, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, opened in 2003. In 2006, the Salt Lake City Public Library was named "Library of the Year" by the American Library Association.
Postsecondary educational options in Salt Lake City include the University of Utah, Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, Stevens-Henager College, Eagle Gate College, The Art Institute of Salt Lake City and LDS Business College. Utah State University and BYU also operate education centers in the city. There are also many trade and technical schools such as Healing Mountain Massage School and the Utah College of Massage Therapy. The University of Utah is noted for its research and medical programs. It was one of the original four universities to be connected to ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet, in 1969, and was also the site of the first artificial heart transplant in 1981.
Salt Lake is home to several museums. Near Temple Square is the Church History Museum; operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the museum contains collections of artifacts, documents, art, photographs, tools, clothing and furniture from the history of the LDS Church, which spans nearly two centuries. West of Temple Square, at the Gateway District, is the Clark Planetarium, which houses an IMAX theater, and Discovery Gateway, a children's museum. The University of Utah campus is home to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Natural History Museum of Utah. Other museums in the area include the Utah State Historical Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers Memorial Museum, Fort Douglas Military Museum, the Social Hall Heritage Museum, and The Leonardo, a new art, science, and technology museum.
Salt Lake also is home to several classic movie theaters including the Tower Theatre and the now closed Trolley Corners and Villa Theatre.
On December 5, 2007, the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance announced that a two-block section of downtown south of the planned City Creek Center is planned to become a new arts hub. This will include renovations to two theaters located in the area and a new theater with a seating capacity of 2,400 and increased space for galleries and artists. The opening of the new facilities are anticipated to coincide with the opening of the City Creek Center in 2011. The site of the $81.5 million theater was officially revealed and attempts to secure funding began. The theater plans have come under criticism, however, especially from nearby smaller theaters which host Off-Broadway tours and claim that such a theater cannot be supported and will hurt their business.
Salt Lake City provides many venues for both professional and amateur theatre. The city attracts many traveling Broadway and Off-Broadway performances which perform in the historic Capitol Theatre. Local professional acting companies include the Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake Acting Company and Plan-B Theatre Company, which is the only theatre company in Utah fully devoted to developing new plays by Utah playwrights. The Off-Broadway Theatre, located in Salt Lake's historic Clift Building, features comedy plays and Utah's longest running improv comedy troupe, Laughing Stock.
Salt Lake City is the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, founded in 1847. The Choir's weekly program, called Music and the Spoken Word, is the longest-running continuous network broadcast in the world. Salt Lake City is also the home to the Utah Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1940 by Maurice Abravanel and has become widely renowned. Its current director is Thierry Fischer. The orchestra's original home was the Salt Lake Tabernacle, but since 1979 has performed at Abravanel Hall in the western downtown area. Salt Lake City area is also home to the award winning children's choir, The Salt Lake Children's Choir. The Choir was established in 1979 and is directed by Ralph B. Woodward.
The University of Utah is home to two highly ranked dance departments, the Ballet Department and the Department of Modern Dance. Professional dance companies in Salt Lake City include Ballet West, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company (which celebrated its 45th anniversary season in 2008/2009) and Repertory Dance Theatre. RWDC and RDT both call the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center home.
The city has a local music scene dominated by hip hop, blues, rock and roll, punk, Deathcore, horrorcore, and indie groups. There are also many clubs which offer musical venues. Popular groups or persons who started in the Wasatch Front area or were raised and influenced by it, including Iceburn, Eagle Twin, The Almost, The Brobecks, Meg and Dia, Royal Bliss, Shedaisy, The Summer Obsession, and The Used. Salt Lake also has an underground metal scene, which includes bands such as Gaza (band) and Bird Eater (band). In 2004 over 200 bands submitted tracks for a compilation by a local music zine, SLUG Magazine. The zine trimmed the submissions to 59 selections featuring diverse music types such as hip-hop, jazz, jazz-rock, punk, and a variety of rock and roll. In the summer, Salt Lake City also hosts the Twilight Concert series which is a free summer concert series for all the residents in the city. The series has been a part of the Salt Lake City music scene for 23 years. In year 2010, crowds peaked at 40,000 attendees in downtown's Pioneer Park.
Many films, music videos, commercials, and TV shows have been recorded in the Salt Lake metropolitan area. They include: SLC Punk!, Touched by an Angel, Everwood, Big Love, "Bonneville", Dawn of the Dead, Drive Me Crazy, Forever Strong, High School Musical, High School Musical 2, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Unaccompanied Minors, Dumb and Dumber, The Stand, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Independence Day, Poolhall Junkies, The Brown Bunny, The World's Fastest Indian, The Way of the Gun, Carnival of Souls, The Amazing Race 8, Denizen, and The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Sandlot.
Although the LDS church holds a large influence, the city is still very culturally and religiously diverse. The city is the location of many cultural activities.
Every year in Salt Lake City, a committee of volunteers, staff and community organizations work together to produce the Utah Pride Festival in June. Begun in 1983, the annual event has grown dramatically from those small and rather secretive first gatherings to a 3-day festival with national headliners. Recent attendance has reached to well over 20,000 people, including those from the GLBT community and their allies found among their families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Utah Pride Festival is a program of the Utah Pride Center, a community-based organization that provides support, education, outreach and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer individuals and their allies, through programs, services and resources. In February 2012, The Advocate (longest running LGBT magazine) named Salt Lake City "The Gayest City in America."
A major state holiday is Pioneer Day, July 24, the anniversary of the Mormon pioneers' entry into the Salt Lake Valley. It is celebrated each year with a week's worth of activities, including a children parade, a horse parade, the featured Days of '47 Parade (one of the largest parades in the United States), a rodeo, and a large fireworks show at Liberty Park. First Night on New Year's Eve, a celebration emphasizing family-friendly entertainment and activities held at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, culminates with a fireworks display at midnight. Fireworks can be legally sold and set off around the 24.
The Greek Festival, held the weekend after Labor Day, celebrates Utah's Greek heritage and is located at the downtown Greek Orthodox Church. The 3-day event includes Greek music, dance groups, Cathedral tours, booths and a large buffet. Attendance ranges from 35,000 - 50,000.
The Utah Arts Festival has been held annually since 1977 with an average attendance of 80,000. About 130 booths are available for visual artists and there are five performance venues for musicians.
Salt Lake City also hosts portions of the Sundance Film Festival. The festival, which is held each year, brings many cultural icons, movie stars, celebrities, and thousands of film buffs to see the largest independent film festival in the United States. The headquarters of the event is in nearby Park City.
Beginning in 2004, Salt Lake City has been the host of the international Salt Lake City Marathon. In 2006 Real Madrid and many of the nation's best cyclist had engagements.
Salt Lake City has begun to host its own events in the last few years, most notably the Friday Night Flicks, free movies in the City's parks, as well as the Mayor's health and fitness awareness program, Salt Lake City Gets Fit.
Salt Lake City was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. At the time of the 2002 Olympics, Salt Lake City was the most populated area to hold a Winter Olympic Games. The event put Salt Lake City in the international spotlight and is regarded by many as being one of the most successful Winter Olympics ever.
In February 2002, Torino, Italy was granted an Olympic Sister City relationship with Salt Lake City, which became a Friendship City relationship in October 2003. On January 13, 2007 an agreement was signed, where Salt Lake City and Torino officially became Olympic Sister Cities.
On the third Friday of every month, Salt Lake City hosts a free gallery stroll; many galleries and other downtown businesses stay open late, allowing art enthusiasts to tour various exhibits after hours. Sidewalk artists, street performers and musicians also sometimes participate in these monthly events.
Salt Lake City has many diverse media outlets. Most of the major television and radio stations are based in or near the city. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area is ranked as the 30th largest radio and 31st largest television market in the United States.
Print media include two major daily newspapers, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News. Other more specialized publications include In Utah This Week, Salt Lake City Weekly, Nuestro Mundo of the Spanish-speaking community, QSaltLake and The Pillar for the LBGT community. Other Spanish-language newspapers include El Estandar, Ahora Utah, Amigo Hispano (online only), and El Observador de Utah, which offers free residential delivery. There are a number of local magazines, such as Wasatch Journal (a quarterly magazine covering Utah's arts, culture, and outdoors), Utah Homes & Garden, Salt Lake Magazine (a bimonthly lifestyle magazine), CATALYST Magazine (a monthly environmental, health, arts and politics magazine), and SLUG Magazine, an alternative underground music magazine.
KTVX signed on the air as Utah's first TV station in 1947 under the experimental callsign W6SIX. KTVX is the oldest TV station in the Mountain Time Zone and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. It is the current ABC affiliate. KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate, has downtown studios at "Broadcast House" in the Triad Center office complex. KSL is operated by Deseret Media Companies, a company owned by the LDS Church. KUTV is Salt Lake City's CBS affiliate. KSTU is the area's Fox affiliate. KUCW is the CW affiliate and part of a duopoly with KTVX. KJZZ-TV is an independent station owned by the family of late Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller.
Because television and radio stations serve a larger area (usually the entire state of Utah, as well as parts of western Wyoming, southern Idaho, parts of Montana, 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 broadcasting station. A variety of companies, most notably Millcreek Broadcasting and Simmons Media, have constructed broadcast towers on Humpy Peak in the Uinta Mountains to the east. These towers allow frequencies allocated to nearby mountain communities to be boosted by smaller, low-powered FM transmitters along the Wasatch Front.
Salt Lake City is the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and has many LDS-related sites open to visitors. The most popular is Temple Square, which includes the Salt Lake Temple (not open to the general public) and visitors’ centers that are open to the public, free of charge. Temple Square also includes the historic Tabernacle, home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The modern LDS Conference Center is across the street to the north. The Family History Library, the largest genealogical library in the world, is located just west of Temple Square. It is run by the LDS Church and is open to the public and free of charge. Adjacent to Temple Square is also the Eagle Gate Monument.
In 2004, the Salt Lake City main library received an Institute Honor Award for Architecture by the American Institute of Architects and features a distinctive architectural style. The roof of the building serves as a viewpoint for the Salt Lake Valley. The Utah State Capitol Building offers marble floors and a dome similar to that of the building that houses the U.S. Congress. Other notable historical buildings include the Thomas Kearns Mansion (now the Governor's Mansion), City and County Building, built in 1894, the Kearns Building on Main Street, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, built in 1874, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine, built in 1909.
Near the mouth of Emigration Canyon lies This Is The Place Heritage Park, which re-creates typical 19th century LDS pioneer life. Hogle Zoo is located across the street from the park. The city's largest public park, at over 100 acres (0.40 km2), Liberty Park features a lake with an island in the middle and the Tracy Aviary. The park is home to a large number of birds, both wild and in the aviary. Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, located in the foothills of Salt Lake City, features many different exhibits and also hosts many musical concerts. Jordan Park is home to the International Peace Gardens. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a popular hiking and biking nature trail which spans ninety miles through the foothills of the Wasatch Front.
The Olympic Cauldron Park, located at Rice-Eccles Stadium, features the Olympic Cauldron from the games, a visitor's center, and the Hoberman Arch. The Olympic Legacy Plaza, located at the Gateway District, features a dancing fountain set to music and the names of 30,000 Olympic volunteers carved in stone. The Utah Olympic Park, located near Park City, features the Olympic ski jumps, as well as bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton runs. Today, the Olympic Park is used for year-round training and competitions. Visitors to the park can watch the various events that occur and even ride a bobsled. The Utah Olympic Oval, located in nearby Kearns, was home to the speed skating events and is now open to the public. Other popular Olympic venues include Soldier Hollow, the site of cross-country skiing events, located southeast of Salt Lake near Heber City.
Salt Lake City is close to several world-class ski and summer resorts, including Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort, and Deer Valley. The resorts cater to millions of visitors each year and offer year-round activities.
Salt Lake City is also home to a few major shopping centers. Trolley Square is an indoor and outdoor mall with many independent art boutiques, restaurants, and national retailers. The buildings housing the shops are renovated trolley barns with cobblestone streets. The Gateway District, an outdoor shopping mall, has many national restaurants, clothing retailers, a movie theater, the Clark Planetarium, the Discovery Gateway, a music venue called The Depot, and the Olympic Legacy Plaza. City Creek Center is the city's newest major shopping center and features many high-end retailers that aren't found anywhere else in Utah.
On October 3, 2006, the LDS Church, who owned the ZCMI Center Mall and Crossroads Mall, both on Main Street, announced plans to demolish the malls, a skyscraper, and several other buildings to make way for the $1.5 billion City Creek Center redevelopment. It combined several new office and residential buildings (one of which is the third-tallest building in the city) around an outdoor shopping center featuring a stream, fountain, and other outdoor amenities; it opened on March 22, 2012. Sugar House is a neighborhood with a small town main street shopping area and numerous old parks. Sugar House Park is the second largest park in the city, and is host to frequent outdoor events and the primary Fourth of July fireworks in the city.
Other attractions in or within close proximity to Salt Lake City include the Golden Spike National Historic Site (where the world's first transcontinental railroad was joined), the Lagoon Amusement Park, the Great Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats, Gardner Historic Village, one of the largest dinosaur museums in the U.S. at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, and the world's largest man-made excavation at Bingham Canyon Mine.
Winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, are popular activities in the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City. Eight ski resorts lie within 50 miles (80 km) of the city. Alta, Brighton, Solitude, and Snowbird all lie directly to the southeast in the Wasatch Mountains, while nearby Park City contains three more resorts. The popularity of the ski resorts has increased nearly 29% since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Summer activities such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, and other related outdoor activities are popular in the mountains, as well. The many small reservoirs and rivers in the Wasatch Mountains are popular for boating, fishing, and other water-related activities.
Salt Lake City is home to the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA), who moved from New Orleans in 1979 and play their home games in EnergySolutions Arena. They are the only team from one of the four top-level professional sports leagues in the state. They have been to the playoffs in 22 of the last 25 seasons, making them among the most successful in the NBA in that time span, but have yet to win a championship. Salt Lake City was previously home to a professional basketball team, the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association (ABA), from 1970 - 1975. They won one championship in the city (in 1971) and enjoyed some of the strongest support of any ABA team, but they folded just months before the ABA–NBA merger, therefore preventing them from being absorbed by the NBA. The success of the Stars may have had a hand in the decision by the struggling Jazz to relocate to Salt Lake City in 1979.
Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer was founded in 2005, initially playing at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah before the soccer-specific Rio Tinto Stadium was completed in 2008 in neighboring Sandy after undergoing nearly 2 years of funding difficulties and controversy. The team won their first MLS championship by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy at the 2009 MLS Cup. The city has also played host to several international soccer games, with the US as the home team (due to the partisan support when playing Latin American teams).
Arena football expanded into the city in 2006 with the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League. They recorded the highest average attendance in the league in their first season. After the original AFL suspended operations and subsequently folded in 2009, the future of the Blaze was unclear. However, the league's assets were eventually bought and a new league branded as the Arena Football League was founded and began play for the 2010 season, acting as a virtual extension of the original AFL. The Blaze franchise was restored and is playing in the new league.
There are also two minor league teams located in the city. The Salt Lake Bees, a Pacific Coast League Triple A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, play at Spring Mobile Ballpark and were established in 1994 as the Buzz. Their name was changed to the Stingers in 2002 and to the Bees, a historical Salt Lake City baseball team name, in 2006. The Utah Grizzlies hockey team of the ECHL were established in 2005, replacing the previous Grizzlies team that existed from 1995 to 2005 in the IHL and, later, the AHL. They play at the Maverik Center in neighboring West Valley City.
Utah lacks a professional football team of its own, and college football is very popular in the state. The University of Utah and Brigham Young University both maintain large followings in the city, and the rivalry between the two colleges has a long and storied history. Despite the fact that Utah is a secular university, this is sometimes referred to as the Holy War because of BYU's status as an LDS university. Until the 2011-2012 season, they both played in the Mountain West Conference of the NCAA's Division I and have played each other 90 times since 1896 (continuously since 1922). The University of Utah has been at the center of the controversy surrounding the fairness of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) of college football. Despite cruising to undefeated seasons in both 2004 and 2008, Utah was not invited to participate in the national championship in either instance because it participates in the Mountain West Conference, which is a non-BCS conference. It is the first school from a non-BCS conference to win two BCS bowl games (and was the first from outside the conference to be invited to one) since the system was introduced in 1998. In 2009, after the U of U was denied a chance at a national championship for the second time, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced an inquiry into whether the BCS violated federal anti-trust laws, while senator Orrin Hatch threatened to file an anti-trust lawsuit.
The Utah Avalanche, formed in January 2011, are a rugby league team. They will be competing in the American National Rugby League as a developing team. The Utah Warriors are a rugby union team that will compete in the Rugby Super League from 2011. They will be playing their home games at the Rio Tinto Stadium. In June 2012, Salt Lake City hosted the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, a major international rugby union tournament for under-20 national teams from "second-tier" nations.
Utah became the first state outside Minnesota where bandy exists when Olympic Bandy Club was formed in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake is also home to two roller derby leagues: the Salt City Derby Girls  and Wasatch Roller Derby, both of which field travel teams.
Salt Lake City lies at the convergence of two cross-country freeways; I-15, which runs north-to-south just west of downtown, and I-80, which connects downtown with Salt Lake City International Airport just to the west and exits to the east through Parley's Canyon. I-215 forms a 270-degree loop around the city. SR-201 extends to the western Salt Lake City suburbs. The Legacy Parkway, a controversial and oft-delayed freeway, opened September 2008, heading north from I-215 into Davis County along the east shore of the Great Salt Lake. Travel to and from Davis County is complicated by geography as roads have to squeeze through the narrow opening between the Great Salt Lake to the west and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Only four roads run between the two counties to carry the load of rush hour traffic from Davis County.
Salt Lake City's surface street system is laid out on a simple grid pattern. Road names are numbered with a north, south, east, or west designation, with the grid originating at the southeast corner of Temple Square downtown. One of the visions of Brigham Young and the early settlers was to create wide, spacious streets, which characterizes downtown. The grid pattern remains fairly intact in the city, except on the East Bench, where geography makes it impossible. The entire Salt Lake Valley is laid out on the same numbered grid system, although it becomes increasingly irregular farther into the suburbs. Many streets carry both a name and a grid coordinate. Both can be used as an address. US-89 enters the city from the northwest and travels the length of the valley as State Street (with the exception of northern Salt Lake City).
Salt Lake City's mass transit service is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and includes a bus system, light rail, and a commuter rail line. In May 2011, the Brookings Institution rated Salt Lake City's mass transit system as the third-best in the nation at connecting people to jobs, providing access to 59% of the jobs in the valley.
The 35-mile (56 km) light rail system, called TRAX, consists of three lines. The Blue Line, which opened in 1999 and was expanded in 2008, travels from the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub, south to the nearby city of Sandy. The Red Line, which originally opened in 2001 and was expanded in 2011, runs from the University of Utah, south-west through Salt Lake to the community of Daybreak. A third line, known as the Green Line, opened in 2011 and runs from the Intermodal Hub to West Valley City. The system has a total of 41 stations, 17 of them being located within the city limits. Two expansions are underway; the Blue Line is being expanded south into Draper and the Green Line is being expanded north-west to the International Airport. Daily ridership averaged 55,500 as of the third quarter of 2011, making TRAX the ninth most-ridden light rail system in the country.
The commuter rail system, FrontRunner, opened on April 26, 2008 and extends from the Intermodal Hub north to Ogden. Daily ridership on the line averages 6,000, as of the third quarter of 2011. An expansion of FrontRunner south to Provo is under construction and will be completed in December 2012 as part of UTA's FrontLines 2015 project. These extensions were made possible by a sales tax hike for road improvements, light rail, and commuter rail that was approved by voters on November 7, 2006. In addition, a $500 million letter of intent was signed by the Federal Transit Administration for all four of the planned TRAX extensions in addition to the FrontRunner extension to Provo.
UTA's bus system extends throughout the Wasatch Front from Brigham City in the north to Santaquin in the south and as far west as Grantsville, as well as east to Park City. UTA also operates routes to the ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons during the ski season (typically November to April). Approximately 60,000 people ride the bus daily, although ridership has reportedly declined since TRAX was constructed.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Salt Lake City, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California. Greyhound Bus Lines serves Salt Lake City as well, providing access north-to-south through Utah along the I-15 corridor. Both of these stations are located at the Intermodal Hub.
Salt Lake City International Airport is located approximately 4 miles (6 km) west of downtown. Delta Air Lines operates a hub at the airport, serving over 100 non-stop destinations throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as well as Paris and Tokyo. SkyWest Airlines operates its largest hub at the airport as Delta Connection, and serves 243 cities as Delta Connection and United Express. The airport is served by 4 UTA bus routes, and a light rail line is scheduled to reach the airport by 2012. A total of 22,029,488 passengers flew through Salt Lake City International Airport in 2007, representing a 2.19% increase over 2006. The airport ranks as the 21st busiest airport in the United States in total passengers, is consistently rated first in the country in on-time arrivals and departures, and has the second-lowest number of cancellations. There are two general aviation airports nearby; South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan and Skypark Airport in Woods Cross.
Salt Lake City is increasingly interested in promoting bicycle transportation. In 2010, Salt Lake City was designated as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, placing the city in the top 18 bicycling-cities in the U.S. with over 100,000 population. Salt Lake had previously been designated as Bronze in 2007. Many city arterial streets have bike lanes, and the city has published a bicycle map. The bicycle map shows bike lanes, on-road routes, multi-use trails, and mountain biking trails.
One popular cycling and walking route is the loop around City Creek Canyon on Bonneville Boulevard. The city has designated the road as one lane only (one-way) for motor vehicles, turning the other lane over to two-way cyclists and pedestrians. City Creek Canyon Road itself is closed to motor vehicles on odd-numbered days during the summer. Bicycles are prohibited on even-numbered days and holidays during the summer.
As of 2010, eighty businesses in the City participate in the Bicycle Benefits program which provides discounts to customers who arrive by bicycle.
Salt Lake City developed the first bicycle priority lanes in the U.S., called "Green Shared Lanes." Transportation Engineer Dan Bergenthal pioneered this design in 2008, placing a 4' wide green band down the middle of a travel lane. Similar designs have since been implemented in Long Beach, California, and Brookline, Massachusetts.
Bicycles are permitted on buses, Trax, and Frontrunner trains. There is no charge for bicycles and there are no rush-hour restrictions. There is, however, a limit on the number of bicycles on each bus or train. Folding bicycles may be brought on board Amtrak's California Zephyr with service to Salt Lake City. Non-folding bicycles must be boxed and checked into the train's baggage car although not all stops along the route offer access to checked baggage.
In September 2010, the Utah Transit Authority in partnership with Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, and the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee, opened a Bicycle Transit Center (BTC) at the Intermodal Hub. This Center provides secure, supervised, indoor bicycle parking for 50 bicycles. Bicycle rentals will also be available. The BTC is anticipated to serve multi-modal commuters from TRAX and FrontRunner, as well as providing a secure bicycle parking space for bicycle tourists who want to tour the City on foot or transit. The Grand Opening was held on September 25, 2010.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is an avid mountain biker and commuter bicyclist, and often rides his bicycle to the City/County Building. Under the Becker administration, the City hired Becka Roolf to be the City's first Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Transportation Division in 2009.
Salt Lake City has several sister cities/towns, including: