Map of Salt Lake City- Utah
Salt Lake City, often shortened to Salt Lake or 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 pproximately 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 city was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, Isaac Morley, George Washington Bradley and numerous other Mormon followers, who extensively irrigated and cultivated the arid valley. Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named “Great Salt Lake City”—the word “great” was dropped from the official name in 1868 by the 17th Utah Territorial Legislature. Home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and Temple Square, Salt Lake City was considered a holy city by members of the LDS church; Brigham Young called it a “Kingdom of Heaven on Earth”. Today, however, less than half the population of Salt Lake City proper are members of the LDS Church.
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.
The Salt Lake City metropolitan area has an estimated population of 1.14 million, while the city proper has a population estimated at 192,000 (2017).
New estimates say that 188,721 residents age 5 and older in Salt Lake County speak a language other than English at home — or 19.7 percent of the total population. Next to English, Spanish is by far the most common language — spoken by 122,665 people at home, or one of every eight residents.
The currency used nation-wide is the US dollar.
Salt Lake City has an area of 110.4 square miles (286 km2) and an average elevation of 4,327 feet (1,319 m) above sea level. The lowest point within the boundaries of the city is 4,210 feet (1,280 m) near the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake, and the highest is Grandview Peak, at 9,410 feet (2,868 m).
The city is in the northeast corner of the Salt Lake Valley surrounded by the Great Salt Lake to the northwest and the steep Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges on the eastern and southwestern borders, respectively. Its encircling mountains contain several narrow glacial and stream carved canyons. Among these canyons, City Creek, Emigration, Millcreek, and Parley’s border the eastern city limits.
The burgeoning population of Salt Lake City and the surrounding metropolitan area, combined with its geographical situation, has led to air quality becoming a top concern for the populace. The Wasatch Front is subject to strong temperature inversions during the winter, which trap pollutants and lower air quality. The Utah Division of Air Quality closely monitors air quality and issues alerts for voluntary and mandatory actions when pollution exceeds federal safety standards. Protests have been held at the Utah State Capitol and Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation in the Utah State Legislature to make public transportation free during January and July, when air quality is usually at its worst.The population of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area is projected to double by 2040, putting further pressure on the region’s air quality.
The Great Salt Lake is separated from Salt Lake City by extensive marshlands and mudflats. The metabolic activities of bacteria in the lake result in a phenomenon known as “lake stink”, a scent reminiscent of foul poultry eggs, two to three times per year for a few hours. The Jordan River flows through the city and is a drainage of Utah Lake that empties into the Great Salt Lake.
The highest mountaintop visible from Salt Lake City is Twin Peaks, which reaches 11,330 feet (3454 m). Twin Peaks is southeast of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Range. The Wasatch Fault is found along the western base of the Wasatch and is considered at high risk of producing an earthquake as large as 7.5. Catastrophic damage is predicted in the event of an earthquake with major damage resulting from the liquefaction of the clay- and sand-based soil and the possible permanent flooding of portions of the city by the Great Salt Lake.
The second-highest mountain range is the Oquirrhs, reaching a maximum height of 10,620 feet (3,237 m) at Flat Top. The Traverse Mountains to the south extend to 6,000 feet (1,830 m), nearly connecting the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. The mountains near Salt Lake City are easily visible from the city and have sharp vertical relief caused by ancient earthquakes, with a maximum difference of 7,099 feet (2164 m) being achieved with the rise of Twin Peaks from the Salt Lake Valley floor.
The Salt Lake Valley floor is the ancient lakebed of Lake Bonneville which existed at the end of the last Ice Age. Several Lake Bonneville shorelines can be distinctly seen on the foothills or benches of nearby mountains.
The climate of Salt Lake City is commonly claimed to be semi-arid, but under the Köppen climate classification, Salt Lake City has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
The primary source of precipitation in Salt Lake City is massive storms that move in from the Pacific Ocean along the jet stream from October to May. In mid-to-late summer, when the jet stream retreats far to the north, precipitation mainly comes from afternoon thunderstorms caused by monsoon moisture moving up from the Gulf of California. Although rainfall can be heavy, these storms are usually scattered in coverage and rarely severe. However, downtown was hit by an F2 tornado on August 11, 1999, killing 1 person, injuring 60, and causing $170 million in damage. The remnants of tropical cyclones from the East Pacific can rarely reach the city during Fall. The remnants of Hurricane Olivia helped bring the record monthly precipitation of 7.04 inches (179 mm) in September 1982. 1983 was the wettest year on record, with 24.26 inches (616 mm), while 1979 was the driest, when 8.70 inches (221 mm) were recorded. Spring snowmelt from the surrounding mountains can cause localized stream flooding during late spring and early summer, the worst examples being in 1952 and especially 1983, when City Creek burst its banks, forcing city engineers to convert several downtown streets into waterways.
Snow falls on average from November 6 to April 18, producing a total average of 60 inches (152 cm), although measurable snow has fallen as early as September 17 and as late as 28 May.The snowiest season was 1951–52, with 117.3 inches (298 cm), while the least snowy season was 16.6 inches (42 cm) in 1933–34. The snowiest month on record was January 1993, in which 50.3 inches (128 cm) were recorded.
The nearby Great Salt Lake is a significant contributor to precipitation in the city. The lake effect can help enhance rain from summer thunderstorms and produces lake-effect snow approximately 6 to 8 times per year, some of which can drop excessive snowfalls. It is estimated about 10% of the annual precipitation in the city can be attributed to the lake effect.
Salt Lake City features large variations in temperatures between seasons. During summer, there are an average of 56 days per year with temperatures of at least 90 °F (32.2 °C), 23 days of at least 95 °F (35 °C), and 5 days of 100 °F (37.8 °C). However, average daytime July humidity is only 22%. Winters are quite cold but rarely frigid. While an average of 127 days drop to or below freezing, and 26 days with high temperatures that fail to rise above freezing, the city only averages 2.3 days at or below 0 °F (−17.8 °C). The record high temperature is 107 °F (42 °C), which occurred first on July 26, 1960 and again on July 13, 2002, while the record low is −30 °F (−34 °C), which occurred on February 9, 1933.
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.
Salt Lake City lies at the convergence of two cross-country freeways; I-15, which runs north-to-south just west of downtown, and I-80, which connects downtown with Salt Lake City International Airport just to the west and exits to the east through Parley’s Canyon. I-215 forms a 270-degree loop around the city. SR-201 extends to the western Salt Lake City suburbs. The Legacy Parkway (SR-67), a controversial and oft-delayed freeway, opened September 2008, heading north from I-215 into Davis County along the east shore of the Great Salt Lake. Travel to and from Davis County is complicated by geography as roads have to squeeze through the narrow opening between the Great Salt Lake to the west and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Only four roads run between the two counties to carry the load of rush hour traffic from Davis County.
Salt Lake City’s surface street system is laid out on a simple grid pattern. Road names are numbered with a north, south, east, or west designation, with the grid originating at the southeast corner of Temple Square downtown. One of the visions of Brigham Young and the early settlers was to create wide, spacious streets, which characterizes downtown. The grid pattern remains fairly intact in the city, except on the East Bench, where geography makes it impossible. The entire Salt Lake Valley is laid out on the same numbered grid system, although it becomes increasingly irregular further into the suburbs. Many streets carry both a name and a grid coordinate. Usually both can be used as an address. US-89 enters the city from the northwest and travels the length of the valley as State Street (with the exception of northern Salt Lake City).
Salt Lake City’s mass transit service is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and includes a bus system, light rail, and a commuter rail line. Intercity services are provided by Amtrak and various intercity bus lines. These services are all interconnected at the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub (Salt Lake Central Station), a short distance west of the city center. The Brookings Institution in 2011 rated Salt Lake City’s mass transit system as the nation’s third-best at connecting people to jobs, providing access to 59% of the jobs in the valley.
Transit bus service
UTA’s bus system extends throughout the Wasatch Front from Brigham City in the north to Santaquin in the south and as far west as Grantsville, as well as east to Park City. UTA also operates routes to the ski resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, as well as Sundance in Provo Canyon, during the ski season (typically November to April). Approximately 60,000 people ride the bus daily, although ridership has reportedly declined since TRAX was constructed.
The 44.8-mile (72.1 km) light rail system, called TRAX, has three lines. The Blue Line, which opened in 1999 and was expanded in 2008, travels from the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub (Salt Lake Central Station), south to Draper. The Red Line, which originally opened in 2001 and was expanded in 2011, runs from the University of Utah, south-west through Salt Lake to the community of Daybreak in South Jordan. A third line, known as the Green Line, opened in 2011 and runs from the Salt Lake City International Airport to West Valley City (via Downtown Salt Lake City), with the extension to the airport having opened in April 2013. The system has 50 stations of which 23 are within the city limits. Daily ridership averaged 60,600 as of the fourth quarter of 2012, making TRAX the ninth most-ridden light rail system in the country.
The commuter rail system, FrontRunner, opened on April 26, 2008 and extends from the Intermodal Hub north through Davis County to Pleasant View on the northern border of Weber County. Daily ridership on the line averages 7,800, as of the fourth quarter of 2012. An expansion called “FrontRunner South”, which extended FrontRunner south to Provo in central Utah County, was completed in December 2012 as part of UTA’s FrontLines 2015 project. These extensions were made possible by a sales tax hike for road improvements, light rail, and commuter rail approved by voters on November 7, 2006.In addition, a $500 million letter of intent was signed by the Federal Transit Administration for all four of the planned TRAX extensions in addition to the FrontRunner extension to Provo.
Intercity bus and rail services
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Salt Lake City operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago and Emeryville, California. Greyhound Lines serves Salt Lake City as well. Their nine daily buses provide service to Denver, Reno, Las Vegas, and Portland. Both of these stations are at the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub.
Salt Lake City International Airport is approximately 4 miles (6 km) west of downtown. Delta Air Lines operates a hub at the airport, serving over 100 non-stop destinations in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as well as Paris and Amsterdam. SkyWest Airlines operates its largest hub at the airport as Delta Connection, and serves 243 cities as Delta Connection and United Express. The airport is served by 4 UTA bus routes, and a UTA operated light rail line (TRAX) opened services on April 14, 2013. A total of 22,029,488 passengers flew through Salt Lake City International Airport in 2007, representing a 2.19% increase over 2006. The airport ranks as the 21st busiest airport in the United States in total passengers, is consistently rated first in the country in on-time arrivals and departures, and has the second-lowest number of cancellations. There are two general aviation airports nearby; South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan and Skypark Airport in Woods Cross.
Salt Lake City is widely considered a bicycle-friendly city. In 2010, Salt Lake City was designated as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, placing the city in the top 18 bicycling cities in the U.S. with a population of at least 100,000. Many streets in the city have bike lanes, and the city has published a bicycle map. However, off-road biking in the valley has suffered significantly as access to trails and paths has declined with the increase of housing developments and land privatization.