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