Tell me about Salt Lake City

I was reading the “Worst mistakes you’ve ever made” thread and a couple people mentioned living in SLC. I’m wondering what is it about this city that turns some people away and yet lures many Mormons (as I understand it). Please, regale me of your (mis-)adventures in this enigmatic city!

I had just the opposite feeling about living in SLC – I loved it!

Warning: I left well over a decade ago, so my impressions are probably out of date.

In the first place, I hated the place I’d been living in before SLC, so by comparison it was very good.

It was an amazingly clean city with a small-town feel, and very safe. (No slums at the time). It’s incredinly close to the outdoors – you can hike or bike into the mountains right from downtown. There are a dozen world-class ski areas within an hour or two of the city. It has a zoo, an aviary, one large university and several smaller ones, a small art museum, a small science musem, and a planetarium. Lotsa book stores and movie theaters. It also has a 7-11 every other block, it seems. There are more 24-hour services than in Boston, where I now live.

Of course, it has Mormons – a lot of 'em. But I’d shared an office with an LDS and been a best man at his wedding. I knew what I was getting into, and comparative religion fascinates me.

The biggest problem is that the government is pretty close to the Church, and you always have the feeling they’re not quite letting you be a grown-up.

I lived in SLC until 10 years ago, and I have moved back and forth from SLC to PA a couple of times. For the past 7 years I have been living exclusively in PA. I have alot of family in Utah (mormons and non) and visit there about once a year, finances permitting. Since I moved away, I have found many things that I miss about SLC. Here are a few of the highlights:
[li]Mountains. [/li][li]Ability to buy beer in grocery stores.[/li][li]The kindness/friendliness of strangers.[/li][li]The desert.[/li][li]Great public transportation.[/li][li]The city is set up on a grid system. Impossible to get too lost.[/li][li]Snow approx 6 months out of the year.[/li][li]Dry heat.[/li][/ol]

I lived in Salt Lake City between about the mid-80s and early 1994, when my husband and I moved to Texas.

Things I loved:

[li]The climate–hot dry summers, colorful autumns, snowy winters, colorful springs[/li][li]The mountains. One of my most vivid memories is of being in the swimming pool with my family and looking up at the most incredible blue sky with snow-capped mountains.[/li][li]The friendliness of many of the people.[/li][li]Being able to drive up into a shady cool canyon on a hot summer’s day.[/li][li]Excellent public transportation–you could truly live there and not need a car.[/li][li]The University of Utah–go Utes! :slight_smile: [/li][li]kick-ass hiking and camping; if you’re an outdoors person, Utah is the best place to be[/li][li]Lots of good family stuff to do.[/li][li]SLC is a very clean city. You can actually walk on the sidewalks at night and feel pretty safe.[/li][li]Lots of great parks, good shopping[/li][li]Downtown is very pretty. It’s a pleasant place to hang out and spend a day shopping, eating, relaxing, whatever you’re in the mood for.[/li][/ul]

Things I did not love:
[li]The high cost of living compared with the low income I was able to earn as a secretary[/li][li]Lots of panhandlers downtown[/li][li]If you are a drinker, you will hate the liquor laws. [/li][li]I can’t stand the lack of tolerance that some Mormons have for non-Mormons and that many non-Mormons have for Mormons. I also hate that the first thing you get asked (after your name) is what religion you are. This is true even with people from out of state who find out you’re from Utah. The worst thing is that it always feels like “Them against Us,” whether you’re LDS or not. Having said that, there actually is a lot of religious tolerance in Utah. If I recall correctly, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang the first mass performed in SLC. The negative attitudes that I’m mentioning are not from the majority of the population, it’s more the “vocal minority” who give everyone else a bad rep.[/li][/ul]

Overall, I’d say the good outweighs the bad. I enjoyed living there, and would go back in a heartbeat if the situation allowed. (BTW–if it makes any difference, I am LDS)

"It was a paradise for lizards, when young Brigham saw it first.
He said, ‘I’ve seen seen some nasty deserts, Lord, but this one here’s the worst.’
The Lord called down to Brigham, “I’ve got a great idea,
I want a mighty city, and I think I want it here!”

-“Salt Lake City”
lyrics by John Perry Barlow
music by Bob Weir

I’m still homesick for it and I moved nearly 6 years ago! I don’t miss the snow, though where I lived (about 40 miles away and 1000 feet higher) we definitely had more to deal with. Everybody’s already mentioned the mountains, the outdoors, the beauty, but there are a few other things I learned to appreciate.

1)The layout of the city. Beautiful blocks, perfectly square, all numbered, all starting from State street. it’s impossible to get lost in SLC as long as you can count. If you can count, you can get back to State Street, which cuts right through SLC and will take you to the freeway. Living in So Cal, that’s something I now appreciate very, very much. There’s no rhyme or reason to the layouts here.

  1. Driving laws. There’s two that really stand out to me. 1) You can make a left hand turn on a red light if the way is clear. 2) It’s illegal to drive slowly in the left lane. That’s right. Illegal. If people are overtaking you on the right, you better get your ass over, because you can get a ticket for that.

  2. ZCMI. I love ZCMI. ZCMI is the greatest. California doesn’t have a ZCMI.

  3. Room to breathe.

  4. Fresh, clean air.

  5. Lagoon. I rarely went, but it was always a treat.

  6. Hogle Zoo. Again, I didn’t go as much as I’d like, but god I loved that zoo. Loved, loved, loved.

  7. Temple Square. I’m not even a Mormon anymore and I miss it. The lights at Christmas are always amazing, and they always have flowers blooming, even in the winter. The museum is amazing because it makes me feellike I have roots somewhere. Those are my relatives, my family, being honored. The Geneology Library is great. The Joseph Smith Memorial building is simply gorgeous. Oh! At Christmas, the tree is, well…divine. And the Temple itself is wonderful to look at. It sparkles in the sun because the women took their china plates and ground them up and put them in the plaster. It’s little bits of history like that that just thrills me. Everybody has to have a heritage, right?

  8. The rodeos.

  9. The Frontier Days.

HUH??? I’ve lived in Utah and the SLC area most of my life and I’ve never seen anywhere that it’s legal to turn left on a red light.

Sadly, Utah doesn’t anymore either. They sold it a couple of years ago to the May Co., and the old ZCMI stores are now called Meier & Frank.


The Salt Lake Temple, although undeniably beautiful, is made of granite that was quarried in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was the Kirtland Temple that sparkles, with the ground-up fine china in it.

I will second you on the wonderful grid layout of the streets, though! Wow! I’ve lived all over the nation, and Salt Lake City was the absolutely easiest city in which to find my way around.

I spent a total of three days in Salt Lake City. Saw a good rodeo. Had a great time at a bar called: “The Dead Goat”. Met a cool lady in said bar. Ate a great steak with said lady at some restaurant.

You can indeed walk around downtown at all hours of the night and feel safe.

The subject of religion did not come up.

More than that, I do not know. :wink:

Hee! That’s right. SOme of the old stories get all mixed up in my head…It’s a very sad thing. And embarassing. Now it was Brigham Smith and his 3000 wives that settled Utah right? :wink:

I wondered about that left on a red thing to!

I live in Ogden about 40 min or 30 if you drive like me, north of SLC. Cant say much for Ogden anymore but SLC has BREWVIES! A movie theater inside a pub! I love it! I’m not a drinker but being able to buy chicken wings and eat them during the flick is worth the admission price.

SLC has Sam Weller’s Bookstore, three floors of book…only Powell’s in Portland is better in my opinion.

There’s a zoo, plantetarium, Natural History Museum. Main street is the best place to see human diversity in all it bizarreness. There’s a great transportation system that is very reasonably priced… if you stay downtown its free!

Several great camera stores, sandwich shops on almost every corner, a couple good theaters, a very good reperatory theater. Salt Lake City Weekly carries The Straight Dope :smiley:
Maybe we should do a Dopefest?

The beer you get in the grocery store is 3.2 beer. You have to guzzle it like an alcoholic just to get a buzz! For the real stuff you have to go to a liquor store…but you have to find one.

The whole time I was there I felt like a visitor (I was a resident for 2 years–I decided it was time to leave after the tornado danced circles around the temple in 1999). Kind of like the good LDS folks were thinking, “Welcome, stranger. Make yourself comfortable, stranger. Listen, if Jesus shows up, we’re all outta here–don’t be offended, OK, stranger?” It was weird. Seriously though, except for one run in with a homeless schizophrenic woman, everyone I met there was very kind…but creepy in a “peace & tranquility to you, brother” Star Trek kind of way. I have nothing to support any negative statement about the city. And yet, it was good to leave. Last I heard the city was just about 50% LDS & 50% “almost, but not quite right.”

Navigation in many Utah cities is easy because the streets are numbered like a grid using the city’s temple as a center point. Thus you get addresses like 6400w 1500s, SLC, Utah which means you are 64 blocks west and 15 blocks south of the temple. Every 10th street or so is VERY wide (like 4 lanes in each direction) because when they were planning the city they wanted you to be able to do a U-turn with a full team of horses & cart. Mountains ranges to the east & west of the city (SLC runs right up to the western edge of the Rockies)–very pretty at any time of year. Lovely desert climate. Local drivers that make Californians look like old women on the highway (and the aforementioned wide streets which have a posted speed limit attainable only by the bravest of the brave).

Possibly the thing I miss about SLC the most. Nowhere else has Christmas lights like Temple Square. They hand-wire zillions of lights tightly against every branch, limb, and twig of every tree in the Square, then put down other lights on the ground, for good measure. You can’t compare it to the “casually draped over the tree” or even “carefully wound around the trunk” lights other cities have.

A: Because California sucks and Utah blows! :smiley:

Actually, SLC seems like a nice place and since I ski and love the mountains, I could live there. But it would be lower on the list of place to live than Tahoe.

I spent a week there on business. Only had one decent meal. It seemed everwhere we went to eat, the food was incredibly bland! Even places like Denny’s and IHOP, that are pretty much identical all over, the food was flavorless! The company I was with took us all out to this “World Famous” steak joint, and I have never had a worse steak in my life. I had one good meal, when I struck out on my own and found a little hole-in-the-wall authentic mexican joint.

I suppose if I live there I would find some good places, and I brew my own “special” beer, so I could hang there if I had to. But I don’t have to.

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for Sodomite Propagandists anymore!