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Salt Lake City (USA)

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City: Salt Lake City / Country: USA / World Region: North America

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      26.05.2011 02:28
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      A city with deep religious Mormon roots and winter sports facilities

      Salt Lake City

      Salt Lake City is the capital city of the state of Utah and has a population of about 186,000. About half the population is now Mormon as opposed to almost 100% in the past. It has become very popular for outdoor winter sports and in 2002 the Winter Olympics were held here.

      We spent two days in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area. I have read a few books recently about the Mormon people and so was quite interested to see the city itself so we decided to start our road trip in Salt Lake City as there were flights to the city. Just in case you were unaware Salt Lake City was founded by Brigham Young way back on July 24th in 1847 with a colony of his followers as they were escaping persecution because of their religious beliefs.

      Salt Lake City airport is quite small and very quiet so we were quickly out of the airport and heading for the car rental office. Another half hour here and we were on our way with our trusty Tom Tom to guide us we were in the hotel another fifteen minutes later.

      As we were driving in we were quite surprised at the fact that the city has no high rise buildings to speak of. Most of the city is very low and the streets are the usual wide multi laned jobs but they were pretty quiet. It was most unusual not to be in two or three lanes of packed traffic. I wouldn't describe the city as attractive as we came in there was the usual light industry and rather unattractive buildings of car sales, machine sales and similar. Around our hotel was the same, the Hilton was nearby and a Starbucks but other than that the buildings could have been for anything at all. This was not the sort of city that you could pop out from the hotel and wander around looking at night life at all.

      The main area of any interest is the central Temple Square area. This is what most people come to see who are visiting the city. The fact that all the buildings are within three city blocks makes it a very easily accessible on foot for most people. Within this main area you can visit two visitor centres, the Tabernacle, the Salt Lake Temple, The family History Library and the Museum of Church History and Art, the Conference Centre, the Assembly Hall, the Church Administrative Building, the Joseph Smith memorial building, The Bee Hive House and the Lion House both of which were homes of Brigham Young, the founder of the city. There are also parks and a large number of statues and of course the beautiful gardens around the plaza area of the Square.

      One fantastic thing about visiting any of these places is that they are all free. You can also have a guided tour also free these are optional in some areas but you have to be shown around in both the Bee Hive House and the Conference Centre building if you want to go up to the roof gardens which were unfortunately closed because of the rain on the day we went. Everywhere you go within the Temple Square area you are welcome to take photos and all the local guides are very friendly, so happy and wanting to chat to you, obviously trying to encourage you into their beliefs but they also chat about where they are from and other things too so you can politely avoid being converted.

      I plan to write in more detail about the places in Temple Square as they are so fascinating so I have only touched on them in this general review of Salt Lake City.


      Apart from the Mormon places of interest what else is there to do in Salt Lake City? Well it is mainly a winter tourist destination as there are many ski resorts in the Wasatch Mountains surrounding the city. The mountains and the canyon areas in the immediate area are quite beautiful and while we were there they were still snow capped but probably not snowy enough for skiing though. We drove up beside then through the mountains all the way through to Idaho until Montpelier where we stopped for the night.

      Salt Lake City is indeed built very close to the shores of the Great Salt Lake. This lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi and because it has no outlet its only method of losing water is through evaporation it is very high in salinity so not much lives in the lake apart from tiny brine shrimp. Water flows into the lake from four main rivers which carry about 2.2 million tons of minerals into the lake each year. The lake salinity varies from 4% to 28% depending on the minerals brought in by the rivers; the ocean in comparison is 3% salinity so this is a very salty lake.

      The lake is a remnant of the once huge Lake Bonneville which covered 20,000 square miles during the Ice age. The Great Salt Lake today covers an area of 1,700 square miles and it is 75 mies long and 28 miles wide. The deepest part of the lake is 33 feet so it isn't a very deep lake at all but it does vary depending on rainfall and the season.

      The lake is used as a beach by the local people of the city and there is also a large Island called Antelope Island which is reached by a seven mile long causeway and is a State national park used for camping and recreation by the people of the area too. We did visit this island and I will be writing a separate review about the island at some stage.

      While in Salt Lake City you can have a drink of the locally brewed 'Polygamy Porter' with the tagline 'Why just have one?' as a tongue in cheek comment on the now illegal practice of polygamy carried out by the Mormons in past times. This Park City Wasatch Brewery also have a root beer called Brigham's brew which tasted much the same as other root beer but it is nice to try the local stuff.

      Within the city there are several nice looking parks but as it was pouring with rain we didn't feel inclined to explore these much. There are supposed to be a number of shopping centres but as we were walking around they were not immediately obvious but we were not specifically looking for them either. The city was having a major facelift in the centre and as a result several roads were blocked off and parts of the city were also covered in scaffolding and not accessible.

      Utah was previously a state with very strict liquor laws. They have now eliminated the law that allowed you to only drink in private clubs but you still have to be over 21 and show ID if you look near that age but they are not the only state with this law. This means that you can have a drink in a bar and you can buy liquor from a liquor store provided you are over 21.

      I am sure there are other places of interest if you are staying in the area but this is not somewhere I would necessarily say you must visit. I was interested to see the city built by these pioneering people in the late 1800s and a couple of days fitted the bill for me. We found the city easy to get around and the people delightfully friendly and wanting to held in any way possible. There are certainly more attractive and more interesting cities in the USA but if you are the area I do think it is worth a visit simply to be mind blown by the Temple these people built with very basic tools in the middle of nowhere at that time. It is also a fascinating experience to learn more about the beliefs of the Mormon followers. It is difficult to allocate stars as I found it very interesting to learn more about the Mormon religion but really there is not a lot else here for the visitor unless you are in to winter sports and visit in winter.

      Hope this has been of some interest to you. Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.

      ©Catsholiday

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        19.01.2006 13:46
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        An interesting place but not somewhere to rave about.

        I visited Salt Lake City in 2002 with my friend, Melissa, who I met at University, and who I was staying with in Washington State at the time. Her aunt was having a mid life crisis after divorcing her husband at 50 something. Melissa's Dad decided it was a good idea if we went to visit her 'to cheer her up' and paid for our flights for a three day trip. I wouldn't personally have chosen it as a 'must see' desination but it was a free trip! Salt Lake City is a pretty weird city but interesting in many ways.....

        *** About Salt Lake City ***

        Salt Lake City is the State Capital of Utah and is found, bang in the middle of the United States. Salt Lake City is best known as the international Headquarters the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and has a population of around 180,000. The climate is very dry year round but it is very hot in the Summer and very cold in the winter. The main geographical feature is the huge lake (the largest in the US) after which the city is named and the river Jordan which runs through the city and into the lake. The area surrounding the City is mountainous and the Winter Olympics were held in the City in 2002.

        **** History ****

        Salt Lake City was founded on July 24, 1847, by a group of Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young. The founding group numbered 148, consisting of 143 men, three women, and two children. The Mormons came to the valley in search of a place where they could practice their religion, free from hostililty and persecution.

        Young laid out the community in 4-hectare (10-acre) plots around Temple Square, which became the center of the Mormon faith. Construction on the Mormon temple began in 1853, but was not completed for another 40 years.

        The Mormons' practice of polygamy (having multiple wives) and their alleged disregard of federal authority led to conflict with the government. In 1857 a dispute called the Utah War began because the U.S. government believed that the Mormons were undermining federal laws. However today, they live in relative harmony although their traditions and ways differ considerably from the rest of America.

        **** The City ****

        The city is generally like any other in America, wide boulevards with fast food stands aplenty, pretty good shopping, a nice park etc.

        >>> The Temple Area.

        The biggest tourist attraction is Temple Square. The temples are free to enter although you pay the price of the girls, of all nationalities, who patroll the area looking to convert and/or recruit you to the Mormon Faith. We were asked repeatedly if we believed in Jesus which I have to say made me feel distinctly uncomfortable and we were handed leaflet after leaflet by girls scatered across the site inteded soley for this purpose.

        However, the Temples are impressive and grand and well worth the trouble. It's likely that you will take a guided tour in a small group. You can't just wander around and there are certain areas that are out of bounds. The tour was relatively interesting and discusses the history of the Mormons, outlining the differences between the Mormon faith and Christianity as they show you around the grounds.

        >>>Other Attractions.

        There arn't a great deal of other major tourist attractions as such. There are a number of museums such as the Military Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts and the National History Museum. There are also the National Botanical Gardens, a zoo and a planetarium. As I did not get to visit any of the places then I offer no further comment.

        >>> Salt Lake Citys Alcohol Policy.

        Because it's a religious city they have some crazy policies regarding alcohol and even caffeine. Basically you aren't allowed it. As is usual in the States you have to be 21 before you're allowed to drink any alcohol. This wasn't good for me as at the time I was 20.... However Salt Lake has it's own set of rules to the rest of the country. You can order a beer anywhere. But if you want to drink spirits you have to be a private member of a 'club'. We attempted to go for lunch in Mel's aunts club but we weren't even allowed in to eat because I wasn't yet 21. Crazy.... The city also has some crazy laws about caffeine consumption. There is one street (in the part of town where the temples are) along which you are not allowed to have a can of coke or a coffee in your hands! Isn't that just fabulous! I always wondered if they had people on watch ready to conficate caffeine conatining beverages from the unsuspecting tourists.

        **** The Area ****

        We took a trip out to the lake itself but this isn't especially anything to get excited about. The lake is smelly, flies buzz around you everywhere and the area, once full of amusements, is now run down and dilapidated. We went at sunset and the views across the lake were stunning but it really isn't somewhere that you would want to spend alot of time.

        Utah as a state is stunning and I am gutted that I never got to venture into any of the five National Parks within easy reach of the city to see the magnificant sand stone structures the state is famous for. This is a huge regret of mine but it simply wasn't possible during this trip.

        ***Summary and Conclusions***

        Definitely not a must see destination if you are in the states, although it would be the ideal plcae to start a trip though the deserts of Utah, some of the best natural sights in the US. I give Salt Lake City 3/5 as it was an interesting and enlightening trip but I can't say I have any huge desire to return and there isn't a great deal of major attractions there either.

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          12.02.2002 04:06
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          Once every 4 years, the world is dazzeled and inspired by the spectacular Winter Olympics. This year, the games are back with more talent and glory than you can shake a stick at! Staged in Utah, Salt Lake City on the night of Febuary 8th 2002, the world watched as thousands of athletes from around the globe each hoping for a medal paraded into the Rice Eccles Olympic stadium, to be greated by a roaring country-sized audience, not to mention the 3.5 billion home viewers! The atmosphere was electric throughout the course of the ceremony, with performances from "The Dixie Chicks", "LeAnn Rimes", "The Bunkhouse Orchestra", "Eclipse", "The Utah Symphony", "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir", "Rita Coolidge and Walela", "Robbie Robertson", "Yo-Yo Ma", and "Sting" to name just a few. After watching the athletes parade in with their flags, the performances began with an 11 year old boy, backed by themed music and amazing skaters, reinacted a display of a winter scene in which the fire from within saves the boy from being captured by the storm. (The boy is a local ice-hockey player and had to learn to figure skate specially for the performance). By this time the show was well underway. The Dixie Chicks then took centre stage, blasting out a live performance of their debut song "Wide Open Spaces". They have only been around for 3 years and have already picked up many awards and prizes for their fantastic country singing. Then appeared "Robbie Robertson", clutching a guitar with which he played with such style. Robbie is a Native American himself, and joined a Native group for which he recorded songs for, as performed that night. The Native Americans danced around on the ice, forming into groups, before eventually skating into the symbol of the Olympic Games, (the coloured rings). It was all very emotional. Later th
          at evening "Sting" gave a performance, accompanied by "Yo-Yo Ma" on the chello. Probably the most eagerly awaited thing of the ceremony was the lighting of the Olympic torch. Carried for miles across America, the flame was finally presented into the stadium and given to America's Ice-Hockey team to do the honours of lighting the torch. The evening was finally brought to an end with the amazing country voice of LeAnn Rimes singing her heart out to the world, finishing what had been an emotional, spectacular and electric opening ceremony. Lets hope every Winter Olympics opening ceremony will be as tremendous and dazzling as 2002's.

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          Salt Lake City is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. The name of the city is often shortened to Salt Lake, or its initials, S.L.C. It was originally known as Great Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City has a population of 178,097. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area spans Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, and has a total estimated population of 1,333,914 (2000). Salt Lake City is further situated in a larger urban area known as the Wasatch Front, and until 2003 the Ogden-Clearfield metro area within it was considered part of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The total estimated population of the Wasatch Front is approximately 2,150,017.