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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Salt Lake City, Utah

SLC: Salt Lake City skyline, photo by  knowlesgallery/Fotolia

Salt Lake City (population 181,743) is the state capital, the county seat, and the most populous city in Utah. Nestled in a valley at the foot of two mountain ranges—the Wasatch and the Oquirrhs—the area was home to the Shoshone, Ute, and Paiute for thousands of years. The first Caucasian Europeans to settle in the valley in 1847 were a group of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), who had traveled across the nation seeking an isolated area to practice their religion, away from the persecution they had faced in the East. Salt Lake City is among the oldest cities in the region and is still the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 1893 Salt Lake Temple on Temple Square is the best-known building in the city and many other surviving structures help tell the story of the Mormon pioneers.

A booming mining industry and a link to the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s brought economic growth, and the city became known as the "Crossroads of the West." Mass migration of different groups followed, leading to the construction of the Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1905 and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine in 1909, the first major churches not of the Latter-day Saint faith. Holy Trinity Cathedral was rededicated this year after a major rehabilitation and restoration.

Salt Lake City was the first city in the state to designate local historic districts and to establish a landmarks commission, rehabilitating historic neighborhoods in partnership with the Utah Heritage Foundation. These historic older neighborhoods, once threatened with demolition, greatly contribute to the quality of life in the city. Investments in the city’s historic resources, spurred by federal and state tax credit programs, have preserved Salt Lake City’s great character.

The 1891 City and County Building, a Romanesque Revival icon, was completely restored in the 1980s. Garages for the early 1900s electric trolley system have been preserved and adaptively reused as a popular shopping mall, Trolley Square. A group of restored buildings adjacent to the once bustling Gardner Flour Mill houses a restaurant and store. Plans are underway to restore Pioneer Square as the centerpiece of ongoing redevelopment in the surrounding neighborhood, including warehouses being reused as offices, entertainment venues, and housing. A major restoration of the State Capitol Building will be completed in 2007.

In the 21st Century Salt Lake City has developed a strong tourism industry. Recently, the city welcomed visitors from all over the world to the 2002 Winter Olympics, sharing with them the beautiful historic buildings, monuments, churches, museums, and mansions that tell the story of the city’s rich heritage.

Posted October 2, 2015

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