Visiting Salt Lake City
Under Renovation 🙂
Above is a panoramic view of Salt Lake City Utah taken when I visited way back in 2008. I returned again in 2012 and spent a few weeks in the suburbs. Salt Lake City is both the capital and the largest city of the state. Unlike many other major US cities in the desert, Salt Lake City is surrounded by a very large suburban area that extends for dozens of miles. As a matter of fact almost 90% of all of Utah’s entire population lives within the Salt Lake City metro area.
Above is the state capitol building of Salt Lake City that rests on a small hill overlooking the downtown parts of the city. This area or neighborhood is known as capitol hill, with the main building above having been built in 1916. The capital’s downtown areas is home to several large high rise buildings such as the one on the right. Salt Lake City With a huge metro population of over two million people, Salt Lake City uses trams like below as a good public transportation option. Despite so many people in the capital area, wide streets and many options for buses and trams make the city feel uncrowded and open.
|Since Utah is often associated with Mormons, I think its interesting to know the story of how the Mormons ended up settling here. The story begins with the founding of their religion which took place in the mid-west during the 1820s. Mormons weren’t treated well in the east, and with many Americans looking down on their religion they often found themselves persecuted. Being threatened or assaulted by other religious groups was a common experience for the new Mormons, and it eventually led to the murder of their leader and founder Joseph Smith. The remaining followers continued to be harassed and decided to seek refuge in a remote part of the country, where they would be able to practice their beliefs in peace. During the next 20 years after Smith’s death, some 70,000 Mormons fled to Utah where they founded Salt Lake City. The terrain of Utah, which is surrounded by high peaks and hot dry deserts, normally would not be an ideal place start a new life. The Salt Lake Valley appealed to the Mormons only because they knew no one else would be interested in settling in the desert, and therefore they could remain alone and in peace. Above is an area in Salt Lake City known as “This is the place” park referring to the famous words of Mormon leader Brigham Young, who spotted the valley below and concluded that this was the place from his vision where they would start a new life and “make the desert blossom like a rose”. The first Mormon settlers struggled to survive in the harsh conditions of Utah but their efforts were eventually met with success. Today Salt Lake City is one of America’s safest and most beautiful cities, bringing in thousands of Mormon pilgrims each year who come to visit the Mormon temple. The memorial above marks the entrance to the valley. The date when Young entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th is now a state holiday called Pioneer day in Utah which is often celebrated with parades, fireworks and other festivals.|
|In the capital’s center you can find the Mormon’s temple square which is a collection of Mormon buildings and serves as the headquarters of the Mormon religion. The temple square is where the original settlers chose to build their new life, and so Salt Lake City was literally built around it. On the upper left is the Salt Lake Temple, which is off limits to visitors due to its scared value. On the upper right is a photo of the inside of a chapel on the temple grounds that anyone is allowed to visit.|
|The Mormon religion is now all over the world, with many coming to Utah to serve for 18 months in the Temple Square. Today there are Mormons from over 35 nationalities represented at this temple alone. The Temple Square is Utah’s biggest tourist attraction and brings in around 5 million tourists a year. On the left are some Mormons speaking to visitors, one from Japan and the other from Australia. On the right is a large painting of the crucifixions.|
|The religion used to receive a lot of criticism because Mormons once believed in having several wives. Since the late 1800s the mainstream religion no longer practices or condones this although there is a extremely small minority of believers who illegally continue this. For the mainstream religion, many Mormons choose to get married at the Temple Square and when I visited on a Saturday in late June, there were over 60 weddings on this day alone!|
|As Mormons also do not believe in drinking alcohol, Salt Lake City is known for its stricter alcohol laws compared to most other cities in America. I haven’t yet gone out for a drink in Salt Lake City but my understanding is the local laws require alcohol to be a very low percent. I almost had the impression it was difficult to find places for nightlife in the capital but driving down the streets of the city I saw several places like this one above that advertised their rooftop bars. Something else I couldn’t help but notice while driving around the city were some of the enormous houses like the one on the upper right. Most of the capital is well taken after with nice clean streets and beautiful neighborhoods.|
|As I left Salt Lake City I came across a random abandoned city along the highway that seemed to be accepted as a place for tagging and leaving messages for other people. This thing was completely covered with messages declaring people’s love for each other and for those welcoming veterans of the Iraqi or Afghanistan wars back home.|
A suburb of Salt Lake City is the town of Lehi. I stayed in Lehi for a few weeks for work which gave me the opportunity to see some things I might otherwise miss. I did the typical things you would normally do like go out for dinner and movies, some hiking in the nearby trails, and on one weekend I went to an annual Scottish festival. With Utah’s strict alcohol laws the festival was completely dry. A Scottish festival with no alcohol was like a jousting competition without jousts. Since I’m not that big on drinking anyway it wasn’t really an issue for me, but I did feel somewhat wronged by this. The festival went on for three days and included Scottish food, traditions, sports and music. Above was a girl who was taking part of a Scottish dance. On the right was a formation during a Scottish arms ceremony. To me the music was the most entertaining.