United States: Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital and the most populous municipality of the U.S. state of Utah. With an estimated population of 190,884 in 2014, the city is the core of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a population of 1,153,340 (2014 estimate). Salt Lake City is further situated within a larger metropolis known as the Salt Lake City–Ogden–Provo Combined Statistical Area. This region is a corridor of contiguous urban and suburban development stretched along an approximately 120-mile (190 km) segment of the Wasatch Front, comprising a population of 2,423,912 as of 2014. It is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin (the other is Reno, Nevada).

The world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is located in Salt Lake City and the city's street grid system is based on the temple constructed by the Church at its center. The city was originally founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, and other followers of the Church, who were seeking to escape religious persecution in the mid-western United States. These Mormon pioneers, as they would come to be known, at first encountered an arid, inhospitable valley that they then extensively irrigated and cultivated, thereby establishing the foundation to sustain the area's large population of today.

Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named "Great Salt Lake City"; however, the word "great" was dropped from the official name in 1868 by the 17th Utah Territorial Legislature.

Immigration of international LDS members, mining booms, and the construction of the first transcontinental railroad initially brought economic growth, and the city was nicknamed the Crossroads of the West. It was traversed by the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway, in 1913, and presently two major cross-country freeways, I-15 and I-80, intersect in the city. Salt Lake City has since developed a strong outdoor recreation tourist industry based primarily on skiing, and hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. It is the industrial banking center of the United States.

Before Mormon settlement, the Shoshone, Ute, and Paiute had dwelt in the Salt Lake Valley for thousands of years. At the time of Salt Lake City's founding, the valley was within the territory of the Northwestern Shoshone; however, occupation was seasonal, near streams emptying from canyons into the Salt Lake Valley. One of the local Shoshone tribes, the Western Goshute tribe, referred to the Great Salt Lake as Pi'a-pa, meaning "big water", or Ti'tsa-pa, meaning "bad water". The land was treated by the United States as public domain; no aboriginal title by the Northwestern Shoshone was ever recognized by the United States or extinguished by treaty with the United States. The first U.S. explorer in the Salt Lake area is believed to be Jim Bridger in 1825, although others had been in Utah earlier, some as far north as the nearby Utah Valley (the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 were undoubtedly aware of Salt Lake Valley's existence). U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont surveyed the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Valley in 1843 and 1845. The Donner Party, a group of ill-fated pioneers, had traveled through the Great Salt Lake Valley in August 1846.
Salt Lake City c. 1880 by Carleton E. Watkins

The valley's first permanent settlements date to the arrival of the Latter-day Saints on July 24, 1847. They had traveled beyond the boundaries of the United States into Mexican Territory seeking a secluded area to safely practice their religion away from the violence and the persecution they experienced in the East. Upon arrival at the Salt Lake Valley, president of the church Brigham Young is recorded as stating, "This is the right place, drive on." Brigham Young claimed to have seen the area in a vision prior to the wagon train's arrival. They found the broad valley empty of any human settlement.
Part of Main Street, 1890

Four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young designated the building site for the Salt Lake Temple, which would become a famous Mormon and Salt Lake City landmark.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an extensive streetcar system was constructed throughout the city, with the first streetcar running in 1872 and electrification of the system in 1889. As in the rest of the country, the automobile usurped the streetcar, and the last trolley was approved for conversion in 1941, yet ran until 1945, due to WWII. Trolley buses ran until 1946. Light rail transit returned to the city when UTA's TRAX opened in 1999. The S Line (formerly known as Sugar House Streetcar) opened for service in December 2013 on an old D&RGW right-of-way.

The city's population began to stagnate during the 20th century as population growth shifted to suburban areas north and south of the city. Few of these areas were annexed to the city, while nearby towns incorporated and expanded themselves. As a result, the population of the surrounding metropolitan area greatly outnumbers Salt Lake City. A major concern of recent government officials has been combating inner-city commercial decay. The city lost population from the 1960s through the 1980s, but experienced some recovery in the 1990s. Presently, the city has gained an estimated 5 percent of its population since the year 2000.

The city has experienced significant demographic shifts in recent years. Hispanics now account for approximately 22% of residents and the city has a significant homosexual community. There is also a large Pacific Islander population, mainly made up of Samoans and Tongans; they compose roughly 2% of the population of the Salt Lake Valley area.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-day Saint movement, planned the layout in the "Plat of the City of Zion" (intended as a template for Mormon towns wherever they might be built). In his plan the city was to be developed into 135 10-acre (4.0 ha) lots. However, the blocks in Salt Lake City became irregular during the late 19th century when the LDS Church lost authority over growth and before the adoption of zoning ordinances in the 1920s. The original 10-acre (4.0 ha) blocks allowed for large garden plots, and many were supplied with irrigation water from ditches that ran approximately where modern curbs and gutters would be laid. The original water supply was from City Creek. Subsequent development of water resources was from successively more southern streams flowing from the mountains to the east of the city. Some of the old irrigation ditches are still visible in the eastern suburbs, or are still marked on maps, years after they were gone. There are still some canals that deliver water as required by water rights. Many lots, in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, have irrigation water rights attached to them. Local water systems, in particular Salt Lake City Public Utilities, have a tendency to acquire or trade for these water rights. These can then be traded for culinary water rights to water imported into the valley. At its peak, irrigation in the valley comprised over one hundred distinct canal systems, many originating at the Jordan Narrows at the south end of the valley. Water and water rights were very important in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As heavy agricultural usage changed into a more urban and suburban pattern, canal water companies were gradually replaced by culinary water systems.

During mid-winter, strong areas of high pressure often situate themselves over the Great Basin, leading to strong temperature inversions. This causes air stagnation and thick smog in the valley from several days to weeks at a time and can result in the worst air-pollution levels in the U.S., reducing air quality to unhealthy levels. This same effect will also occasionally play a role in the summer months, causing tropospheric ozone to peak in July & August, but in 2015 it started at the beginning of June. In 2016 Salt Lake's air quality was ranked 6th worst in the nation by the American Lung Association. It received an F grade for both ozone and particulate matter. Particulate pollution is considered especially dangerous, as the tiny pollutants can lodge deep in lung tissue. Both ozone and particulate pollution are associated with increased rates of strokes, heart attacks, respiratory disease, cancer and premature death. Outdoor air particulates have been associated with low and very low birth weight, premature birth, congenital defects, and death.

There are 75,177 households, out of which 27.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% are married couples living together, 10.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% are other types of households. Of the 75,177 households, 3,904 were reported to be unmarried partner households: 3,047 heterosexual, 458 same-sex male, and 399 same-sex female. 33.2% of all households are made up of individuals, and 9.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.48, and the average family size is 3.24.

The city's age distribution was (as of 2000):

23.6% under 18
15.2% from 18 to 24
33.4% from 25 to 44
16.7% from 45 to 64
11.0% 65 or older

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