Old Images of Salt Lake City, Utah: Historic Photos & Film

Categorised as Utah
Old photo of the Deuel Cabin in Salt Lake City Utah taken around 1905
A New Yorker who migrated to the home of his faith, Osmyn Deuel built a log house for himself, his wife Mary, and his brother Amos in September 1847 and they lived there for two years. This old photo of the first house built in Salt Lake City was taken for the "Illustrated Souvenir, Salt Lake City, Utah", published in 1905. With development building up around it, the cabin became positioned at the rear of the Bureau of Information (Temple Block). Not long after this photo was taken, a large Classical-style Pergola was built around and over it, but has thankfully been removed. You can still visit the Deuel Cabin today, between the Church History Museum and the Family History Library.

Glimpse history through old images of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The territory of the Northwestern Shoshone had occasionally been visited by explorers and travellers. But in the comparitively recent year of 1847, a group of Latter-day Saints and their three African slaves arrived to build a new city. Brigham Young’s dream and identification of a spot on which to build their temple was to change the valley beyond all recognition.

Great Salt Lake City, as the settlement was initially known, changed name in 1856, when it was shortened to Salt Lake City.

Temple and Tabernacle

The Latter-day Saints who fled persecution and arrived in Utah to establish a new and safe home naturally created an environment where their faith was at the centre of everything.

The Salt Lake Tabernacle, or Mormon Tabernacle, took three years to complete, opening for the LDS Conference in October 1867. The extraordinary design, based on the concept of a Canvas Tabernacle, can be found on Temple Square, though today it is surrounded by high rise buildings rather than fields and farmhouses.

Old photo of the west side of Salt Lake City, with the Tabernacle dominating the skyline
A historic photo looking across the West Side of Salt Lake City more than a century ago, with the Tabernacle clearly visible. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

Salt Lake Temple was the first construction of a temple to begin in Utah, but by the time it was completed 40 years later, three other temples had been built.

Even today, the huge structure, located in Temple Square, is still the largest LDS temple by floor size anywhere in the world.

Old photo of the Temple and Tabernacle at Salt Lake City Utah
Vintage picture of the Temple and Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, more than a century ago. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.
Old photo of the Temple and Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, Utah,
Old photo of the Temple and Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, Utah, taken around 1871. Image from the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Salt Lake Theatre

The Salt Lake Theatre was a 1,500 seat theatre, the largest building in Utah, located at 75 East 100 South Streets. It cost $100,000 to build and the architect was William H. Folsom, who went on to design the Salt Lake Temple. Brigham Young was an enthusiastic supporter of the project, which was widely welcomed by the Mormon pioneers.

This historic photo captures the theatre nearing its completion, ready for its 1862 opening.

By the time the theatre was demolished in 1928, having suffered economic decline thanks to the movie theatres, just about every famous American actor of the age had trodden its boards.

Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel, John, and Lionel Barrymore, P.T. Barnum, Maude Adams, Edwin Booth, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Al Jolson, and Lillian Russell are just some of the stars that entertained Salt Lake City’s residents here.

The location of the theatre is today marked by a plaque on State Street.

Old photo showing the Salt Lake Theatre under costruction in about 1862
Old photo from about 1862, showing construction of the Salt Lake Theatre, announced and supported by Brigham Young. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

Beehive House

Probably taken in the latter half of the 1800s, this photo was unfortunately taken some distance from the Beehive House on South Temple Street, but is easily identified by the unusual roof structure which is highlighted by the darker mountains beyond.

The Beehive House was built for Brigham Young in 1854, just seven years after the arrival of the Latter-day Saints in July 1847. It was home to him and some family members, but was also an official residence and served as the executive mansion of the Territory of Utah from 1852 to 1855.

In the photo, just in front of the Beehive House, we can also see the Lion House, where up to twelve of Brigham Young’s wives, and their children, lived. It is the property with the triangular shaped windows in the eaves.

Today, the Beehive House is a historic site offering public tours, while the Lion House is a social centre and public cafeteria.

Old photo of Brigham Young's Residence, Beehive House at Salt Lake City, with the mountains beyond
An old photo of Brigham Young’s Residence in the distance. Beehive House, so named because of the beehive shaped structure on the roof, is still recognisable today, but sits in a landscape dominated by large roads, skyscrapers and apartment blocks. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

Main Street

Several major street names in Salt Lake City included Temple because religion was at the heart of the community. What later became known as Main Street was originally called East Temple Street.

In this first photo, from around 1871, the two storey buildings have stores on the ground floor with awnings protecting the window displays. The only person seen is a man standing near a pair of horses and light carriage.

old photo of Main Street, Salt Lake City, taken around 1871
An old photo of Main Street, Salt Lake City, taken around 1871. At the time, Main Street was known as East Temple Street. Image from the archives of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Just 34 years later, this next photo of the same street show the growth of the city and modern technology. The buildings now rise up into the air, sometimes reaching seven or more storeys. We can’t see any motor vehicles on the streets just yet, but telegraph poles stretch along the street in great number.

Old photo of Main Street in Salt Lake City Utah taken around 1905
Main Street as featured on Page 6 of “Illustrated Souvenir, Salt Lake City, Utah” (1905), around the time it had been renamed from East Temple Street. From the “Illustrated Souvenir, Salt Lake City, Utah”, published in 1905.

Views of Salt Lake City

Early photos of views across the city show how much has changed in a relatively short amount of time.

Old photo looking across Salt Lake City Utah, with the mountains beyond
A historic photo looking across part of Salt Lake City more than a century ago. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.
Old photo of Salt Lake City Utah, taken from the Fist National Bank.
Historic photo of Salt Lake City, taken from the First National Bank. Construction began on the First National Bank building in 1872 after demolition of the Commerce Building on East Temple Street. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.
Old photo looking across Salt Lake City Utah from a hillside
A historic photo looking across part of Salt Lake City more than a century ago. Image from the archives of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

Salt Lake City 1965

In the summer of 1965, a French filmmaker recorded his vacation to North America, including a trip to Salt Lake City.

Images include the ride ol’ salty boat tour, Salt Lake Temple, downtown traffic, State of Utah Capitol hill complex, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, and the statue to the Handcart Pioneers Of Utah.

Salt Lake City 1965 archive footage – Footageforpro.com

Salt Lake City in 1992

Enjoy a home movie of a drive and walk around the city in 1992. Includes the Beehive Building, Temple Square, and several information plaques and boards.

Salt Lake City (1992) – balsamwoods on YouTube

The 1999 Tornado

It was a hot day in Salt Lake City on August 11th, 1999. Suddenly five minutes before 1pm, the sky turned a strange color, golfball sized hail fell from the skies, a tornado suddenly tore through downtown, and rain fell. Then the tornado disappeared into the sky.

Almost 100 mature trees around the Capitol building were destroyed in just a few minutes, and powerlines were out. The Sun Bar was totally destoyed, the Delta Center lost part of its roof, the Wyndham Hotel lost most of its windows, and many homes were damaged.

Sadly, the tornado killed 38 year old Los Angeles resident Allen Crandy, who was supervising the setup of a booth at the Salt Lake City Outdoor Retailers’ Show, which was destoyed.

1999 Salt Lake City Tornado: A Look Back – abc4utah

Liberty Park

Liberty Park is the single largest open park in Salt Lake City.

But it has a long history, being the place where citizens received food donations through the famine of 1857, acquisition by the city in 1881 for park space, cancelling the opening ceremony when President James A. Garfield was murdered, threats of corporate takeover, and natural disasters.

Salt Lake City History – Liberty Park – Salt Lake City Television – SLCtv on YouTube

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Categorised as Utah