Union Pacific VXLA

Salt Lake City, Utah – South Temple Street

Main Streets 2017: Utah

John Benwell 1
Union Pacific VXLA
Chuck Peterson
John Benwell 1 Union Pacific VXLA Chuck Peterson

From the historic Union Pacific Depot at one end to the University of Utah campus at the other, South Temple Street is an 18-block landmark of Western history and architecture. “The street encompasses everything from a mature tree-lined, mixed use district with historic homes, churches, commercial services, and retail establishments to the city’s central business area and downtown,” notes the American Planning Association, which has named South Temple one of its Great Streets in America.

Impressive and well-preserved along South Temple are Mormon and Masonic temples, a Catholic cathedral, a Protestant church, mansions built in a variety of styles by the city’s 19th century mining elite, and impressive headquarters of local groups and clubs. Today, the broad avenue is lined with mature shade trees, vintage sandstone sidewalks, carriage steps, hitching posts and streetcar poles turned into lampposts.

This street’s story begins with the “Plat of Zion,” a vision for a planned city drafted in 1833 by Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints. LDS President Brigham Young built his home on what would become South Temple, soon after the Mormons arrived in this valley in 1847.

But the street remained a rutted, rural dirt road until the late 19th century, when Utah’s mining boom brought great wealth to a number of families who built 40 finely made mansions along South Temple. “Hoping to share in the prestige of their fabulously rich neighbors, successful businessmen constructed grand homes on the east end of the street,” relates a walking-tour guide for the street by the Utah Heritage Foundation.

The mid-20th century brought a time of struggle and loss to South Temple, as changes in zoning laws and a demand for commercial development helped to bring about the demolition of 30 of the original mansions. But when citizens demanded that the avenue be protected, Salt Lake City made South Temple Utah’s first historic district in 1975, and in 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the street is home to some 39 historic buildings. And those treasures combine with the avenue’s expansive width, shade trees, bike lanes and well-preserved details like the sidewalks and lampposts to make South Temple a fine, rewarding avenue to explore.

Photo Credits (L-R): John Benwell, VXLA, Chuck Peterson

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Cox 25th Street Detail 22 of 25 min

Ogden, Utah – 25th Street

Main Streets 2016: Utah

Ogden is anything but the traditional image you may have of Utah. That’s especially so when you zoom in on historic 25th Street.

The colorful story of this American main street begins in 1869 with the opening of Ogden’s first Union Station at 25th Street and Wall Avenue. Tracklayers for the Union Pacific Railroad reached town shortly before completing the nation’s first transcontinental railroad, with the driving of the famed “Golden Spike” at the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific tracks in nearby Promontory Summit. Ogden became a boom town, a major railroad junction on both the east-west and north-south routes — and its current Union Station, opened in 1924, is the third railroad depot at the same location.

Built in Spanish Colonial Revival style, the station now houses four museums, including the Utah State Railroad Museum. Featured there are two large murals that depict progress from both directions toward the driving of the Golden Spike, plus fascinating exhibits on railroading, with several historic locomotives on display, and on firearms, classic cars and model railroads.

By the early 20th century, 25th Street had become known as “Notorious Two Bit Street” and “Electric Alley,” with brothels, gang rivalries and all sorts of scandalous activities. Nearly a hundred years later, visitors see a very different scene. Many of the street’s original buildings are still standing, so the history is here — but the tone is much different. In fact, Forbes magazine recognized the Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan area as one of the country’s fastest growing cities and best places to raise a family. Ogden also recently made headlines when Newsweek ranked it first in the nation for economic equality.

The Ogden area attracts droves of visitors, and many head out to go skiing, canoeing or kayaking, mountain hiking, fishing or exploring some of the nearby national parks. But 25th Street offers its own rich array of attractions, from diverse and colorful shopping, and some of Utah’s best dining, to lively nightlife. Popular events include downtown’s monthly First Friday Art Stroll, and free Jazz at the Station each Wednesday.

Stroll down historic 25th Street, and you’ll discover the vibrancy and fun of a community that treasures its colorful past — and has built a magnetic, thriving present.

All photos courtesy of Kim Bowsher – kbent LLC Media Group

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