Salt Lake City is the capital of the state of Utah and is also its most populous city. It covers an area of one hundred and ten square miles and has a population of over one hundred and eighty thousand residents. Residents of the city often shorten its name to SLC or Salt Lake. The metropolitan area of the city covers Tooele and Summit Counties and they have a estimated total population of over a million people. Salt Lake City has a service based economy and major economic activities of the city include government services, trade, utilities and professional services. Major employers in the city include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, University of Utah, Sinclair Oil Corporation, Smith’s Food and Drug, Alpha Graphics and Deseret Management Corporation.
Salt Lake City can trace its history back to the mid nineteenth century. This is when one hundred and forty-three men, three women and two children founded a settlement a few miles east of Great Salt Lake in the Salt Lake Valley. They were members of the LDS Church, who were seeking to escape religious persecution. Over the next few years, thousands of Mormon would flood into Salt Lake. After the death of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young would lead the followers west until he found the suitable location for the settlement. Salt Lake City was settled to serve as the New Zion of the Mormon faith according to Brigham Young. Brigham Young served as both the governor of the church and the territory until 1848, when a High Council was started to run the community. This system would eventually give way to a more common city government with a council and a mayor. Following their first winter, which was very harsh, the settlers were able to survive by maintaining a very close community with each other based on a communal crop sharing system.
In 1849, the California Gold Rush brought large groups of people through the city as they made their way to find their fortunes out west. Salt Lake City was at the center of the western trek and as a result became an important trading point for prospectors traveling through. Goods from the east were traded with the settlers for crops and livestock. In 1850, the United States government organized the Utah Territory and a year later, the settlement was incorporated as the City of the Great Salt Lake. Five years later, the city was made the capital of the Utah Territory and its name was shortened to Salt Lake City. In 1857, the Mormon practice of polygamy came under intense scrutiny and was declared anti-American. As a result, President James Buchanan sent over twenty-five hundred soldiers, under the name of the Utah Expedition, to keep an eye on the LDS Church and to replace the governor Brigham Young with a governor that was not of the faith. Brigham Young didn’t take it lying down, however. He put the state under martial law and formed a guerrilla force to harass the soldiers. This conflict would become known as the Utah War. Eventually, he bowed to federal control and a new territotial governor replace him, Alfred Cumming.
The outside world started to slowly creep into Salt Lake City. In 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad arrived at the city and by the following year Salt Lake was linked to it through the Utah Central Rail Road. People started pouring into the city looking for opportunity. During the 1880s, the Edmunds Tucker Act outlawed polygamy and denied prominent members of the Latter Day Saints Church the right to vote or hold office. Polygamist were convicted and interned at the Sugar House area just outside of the city. By 1890, the LDS had agreed to ban polygamy and in 1896, Utah was made a state and Salt Lake City became its capital. During the Great Depression, the city suffered extremely hard economically. Unemployment reached over thirty-six percent and the annual per capita of the residents were cut in half. The city would not recover until World War II, when several defense industries opened up in the city. The military’s demand for raw materials also boosted the mining industry around the city and put a lot of people to work. It was also during this time that several military installations opened in and around the city, including Hill Air Force Base and Fort Douglas. When the war ended, Salt Lake City continued to grow at a brisk pace. As a result, the city began to experience common urban problems such as urban sprawl.
Today, Salt Lake City continues to grow at a brisk pace. The city is also enjoying a nice influx of visitors, which is bolstered by the many attractions that the city offers. A prominent attraction in the city is Hogle Zoo. This zoo is the largest one of its kind in Utah and contains a large cross section of animals. The original location of the zoo was in Liberty Park. Its first exhibits included an elephant, deer, monkeys and birds. It was started in 1931, by a donation by James A. Hogle and his wife. The zoo is now at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and is owned by the city. Another prominent attraction in Salt Lake City is the Church History Museum. This museum is a museum owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and contains a collection of artifacts, pictures and art that chronicles the two hundred year history of the LDS Church. It was opened in April of 1984 and the museum is opened seven days a week with free admission.
Other popular attractions in Salt Lake City include Liberty Park, Wheeler Historic Farm, Salt Lake Temple, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Tracy Aviary, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Salt Lake City Public Library, Pony Express National Historic Trail, Lagoon Amusement Park, Utah Governor’s Mansion, Brigham Young Monument and Meridian Marker, Great Salt Lake State Park, Memory Grove Park, Clark Planetarium, Hard Rock Cafe, Pioneer Memorial Museum, Red Butte Garden, Classic Cars International Antique Auto Museum of Utah, Utah Museum of Natural History, Bonneville Golf Club, Family History Library, Sugar House Park, Fort Douglas Military Museum, Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art, Delta Center, Salt Lake City Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Family Search Center, International Peace Gardens, Discovery Gateway, Raging Waters Water Park, Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, Bald Mountain and Salt Palace Convention Center.