A Demographic, Socioeconomic and Socio-political Evaluation of Salt Lake City Essay Sample
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Introduction of TOPIC
Salt Lake is the largest city in Utah, one of the major cities in the Western United States. Its population is roughly 183,000, a great increase from the few hundreds that initially settled the valley near the Great Salt Lake in the Mid-1800s. Although the city was initially settled by a single group of immigrants seeking to avoid religious persecution (the Latter-Day Saints), the good mining jobs and, more recently, financial and custodial jobs have attracted a much more diverse population.
The mountains of the Wasatch Front are well known for having ‘the greatest snow on earth’, and the canyons are home to many ski resorts and lodges, thus attracting a high number of foreign visitors annually. Since Salt Lake City is on a direct path between many East and West coast destinations, Salt Lake was, at the height of the settlement of the West Coast, ‘the crossroads of the west’, a middle-marker on the journey to the Pacific. This gave rise to a population of manual labourers who came to work on railroads or in mines1. The abundance of tourists coming to ski in the Rocky Mountains has led to numerous resorts in the mountains, creating a demand for custodial and maintenance jobs. Salt Lake is also known to be the centre for Industrial Banking in the U.S. As with any other city, an increase in high-class jobs creates economic niches in which lower-class workers fit; custodial, transportation, education and lower-level services2.
Salt Lake today has a fairly busy metropolitan area, complete with skyscrapers and its own light-rail train system. The area is not nearly as centred around the LDS faith as it may seem. The biggest factor that still signifies their presence is the grid system of the streets; almost all roads in the city were laid out in a north-south/east-west pattern around the central two blocks that are still reserved for church use. The population is now much more diverse; from its beginnings of all Mormons, it has developed a population of which over 40% is of another faith3. Salt Lake is also a very modern, area; the light rail ‘Trax’ train system is more environment-friendly and cost-efficient than regular railways; Salt Lake is one of the biggest producers of computers and computer software technology; medical care in Salt Lake is among the best available in the nation; there are chain restaurants and stores aplenty in addition to the local-ethnic eateries and businesses, a trait typical of more developed urban areas.
Salt Lake does exhibit some unique characteristics. The grid system is predominant throughout the entire valley, with variations only where natural landscape or private ownership interfere (with the exception of entirely-residential areas of suburbs). The streets of the downtown area were originally built with room for a horse and carriage to turn completely around, in foresight of a time when the extra space would be needed. In the suburban areas, it’s not hard at all to find an LDS chapel, while the congregational buildings of such religions as Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Jewish, Masonic, and even Islamic, are scarce, becoming more concentrated near the downtown area.
Developers have begun to buy large areas of land in the Salt Lake Valley because the area has been officially recognized as undervalued4. These developments are much more uniform and sterile in design, and yet are harder to navigate than the well-organized streets of downtown. They try to recreate the kind of neighbourhoods that cover the Avenues on Utah’s Capitol Hill, or those in Oakland near San Francisco, by having about five different models of houses with minimal changes in the architecture and different materials on the outside to create an appearance of diversity. Daybreak and Suncrest Communities are the two best examples; there are about five to ten developers, each with five or six different house plans.
The result is a neighbourhood that looks colourful and diverse at first glance, but much more uniform when it bears closer inspection. Many neighbourhoods are in the ‘American Dream’ layout; one house on every quarter-acre lot, separated by fences, driveways in front, power lines underground5. There are still some more historical-looking homes in the older district of the Avenues, one of the originally settled residential areas, East of Downtown and South of the Capitol Building. This area tends to have more true diversity; houses build at different times and by different people to different specifications, making it much more varied. Also, in a few places, the driveways remain in back alleyways that lead up through the middle of a block, a much more historically common arrangement.
The Downtown area has flourished in recent years, due to the high economic activity in the area. Basic survival is more of a challenging need to meet in a place with extreme seasons; dry heat in the summer and icy cold in the winter. Utah is largely unsettled, but expansion to the empty regions is becoming popular as technology allows people to live farther away from mainstream society. Since land is often cheap in Utah, inhabitants have a tendency to purchase extravagances such as large cars and SUVs (which accommodate the high level of urban sprawl), boats and expensive snow sports gear. Such a commotion on the consumer end of the market warrants equivalent activity on the end of banks and corporations. Apart from hotels and LDS Church offices, banks dominate the skyline of the Downtown area. Not only is Utah the largest centre of Industrial Banking in the Nation, Utahans also maintain the highest national rate of bankruptcies6.
The population of Salt Lake City is an estimated 182,670. The population of the suburbs is almost eight times that number, giving the entire Salt Lake Valley a population of nearly two million. There is a lower density of people in the inner city itself, especially the downtown area, because most of the people who work in the city live in the suburbs; Sandy, West and South Jordan, Midvale, Draper, Murray, Riverton, Holiday and Taylorsville. The bulk of the population living in the city is more dispersed near the central downtown area and more concentrated around the edges. There are concentrations of people in the residential areas to the west, northeast and southeast of the downtown area; the districts known as Glendale, Rose Park, the Avenues and Sugarhouse.
The Avenues is one of the first areas settled as a distinctive neighbourhood, rather than a general, progressing area, as is the original downtown area. The houses in the Avenues are close-packed and the streets are narrow, much more the in the style of old East-coast American neighbourhoods. There are hardly any new developments within the borders of the city, with the exception of a few concentrated in the largely undeveloped western wing. Most homes in the city are either older, small houses like the ones in the avenues, or large and costly modern homes in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains that enclose the east side of the valley. Not only are these areas are harder to develop due to their location, but they’re also more expensive for the view and location, and lots are larger. This gives the foothill area a relatively low population density. The foothill area is actually a fairly narrow strip of land that is not too steep or remote to access, but still above the inversion and general calamity of the more densely populated areas directly beneath it. The foothill area extends outside of the Salt Lake City borders all the way past Holliday and through Sandy and Draper.
Because of the wide valley full of open land to settle, Salt Lake Valley has seen a lot of urban sprawl, especially in the last decade, with developers moving in to the south quarters to build planned neighbourhoods. The high level of pollution in the valley is due to the fact that most people who work in the city live in the suburbs, and therefore have somewhat of a long transit to make to go to their place of employment every day. Salt Lake’s relative youth has allowed most of the valley to be developed with automobile transit in mind, making trans-valley commutes a reasonable idea. Because of this, Salt Lake Valley is one of the most heavily polluted areas in the United States; the layer of inverted smog is often visible in the distant end of the valley, or when seen from the top of a canyon. The high level of development of the city and suburbs has also caused a sharp decline in the native plant life in the area.
Immigration to Salt Lake has seen an upswing in growth recently as SLC becomes a more established place where businesses can take root and afford cheap land for office space. The mining jobs at the west end of the valley, where Kennecott Copper Mine is situated, have historically attracted many people. Along with the building of railroads, the copper mine is one of the largest factors contributing to the increased percentage of non-Mormon inhabitants in the valley. From the time it was opened in 1863 through the 1920s, the mine has brought upwards of 15, 000 people into the valley for work. 7The largest contemporary factor in attracting new population is the high concentration of businesses that require a higher level of education, such as computer technology and medical care, and menial jobs to go along with the facilities appropriated for the above occupations, such as janitorial services and day-care8.
It is projected that, as the population grows (probably more from immigration than natural increase, as a 2005 reality report stated that Utah’s land was undervalued at 23 percent), the downtown area will become less densely populated that it already is, due to the large, cheap lots for sale in the south and west end of the valley. Commute to the city is becoming less and less of an obstacle, meaning that people are more able to choose where they live. This is makes the light rail train project, Trax, which aims to ease long distance commutes along the urban corridor, an especially relevant one in the valley. Gated communities at the south and west ends of the valley, extending even into the mountains, have become increasingly popular; the land is cheap and the commute is not a problem, again due to urban sprawl, or, more recently, to the ability to work from home. The new Trax train system aims to reduce pollution by bringing people into the city from all across the valley using energy-efficient mass transit. There are plans to extend certain lines of the Trax as far as the Provo-Orem end of the urban corridor.
Because of the way the LDS church grew and developed, receiving virtually all new members from European countries, Salt Lake has historically had an unusually high percentage of Caucasian inhabitants. Even when railway and mining jobs began to bring in new population, the Caucasian dominance hardly declined at all. Recently, as mentioned above, Salt Lake has become a profitable area for businesses in computers and other technological-based services. This contributes to an increased percentage of skilled workers from Japan, China and India, among other places. As in many other parts of the United States, lower class jobs such as janitorial services, gardening and construction have attracted a high number of Latin-American immigrant workers.
The age structure of Salt Lake shows an unusual bulge in the 25-34 year old age group (Map/Chart Reference; I. Population of Salt Lake City by Age). This may be attributed to the aforementioned attractiveness of Salt Lake City to new businesses in technology-related fields, which require skilled workers. Skilled workers often are selected from the latest generation to enter the workforce, those who are mature, yet still young enough to have been brought up with the skills and applications of the newest technological advances. Specific to Salt Lake City, as opposed to its suburbs, is the fact that young couples without a family would be more prone to live in the city for reasons of accessibility, and later relocate to a suburb to raise a family.
Another bulge in population occurs around the 10-20 year old age group, indicating a high amount of live-at-home young adults.9 (Map/Chart Reference; I. Population of Salt Lake City by Age)
Salt Lake’s people have always been faced with several environmental problems, the most common of which are due to the extremes of weather. The recently-ended drought is one such problem, and the other is extremes of cold, both of which tend to kill of significant amounts of crops intended for sale in the City. Fortunately, because of its historical role as middle-man between the Eastern and Western United States, Salt Lake is fairly well connected and would thus be fairly well provided-for in the event of a major halt in local food production. Another natural hazard that has yet to manifest itself is a major earthquake. Salt Lake is situated directly above the Wasatch Fault line, so an earthquake is all but inevitable. The fault line stretches south near the base of the Wasatch mountains, coinciding generally with the border between developed land and steep mountain terrain. Relatively few structures in the City and the Valley were constructed with an earthquake in mind, making the area very susceptible to the oncoming disaster. An earthquake could potentially disrupt all major points of entry into the valley, effectively cutting the area off from any imported goods or services. Immediate issues would be food and gasoline, which are imported daily. Since little agriculture is still practiced within the valley, people in the city and its suburbs would be temporarily dependant on stored goods until lines of transportation could be re-opened.
The population distribution of the city and the valley has historically followed a ripple-effect of concentration; beginning with a relatively large concentration of people in the centre of the community, the outer limits have been expanded as outlying land is developed, and population tends to move outward in concentric rings where new development has become established, depleting the central population slightly.10 Each new ‘ring’ of development can have more land area than the previous one, even if its radius is the same. This is well suited to the exceptionally high growth rate experienced in the area. In the last seven years, however, Salt Lake’s suburbs have apparently begun expanding faster than the population is growing; Salt Lake is loosing population, while suburb population is growing rapidly. 11
Salt Lake’s population is currently growing much faster than even a high Natural Increase Rate would dictate (there is a high increase rate, due probably to historical farming and to a high percentage of Christians). Migration is a large factor in the growth of both the city and its suburbs, which are expanding at appropriately rapid rates as well. Referring to an ethnic-distribution census, it is obvious that an increasing number of immigrants to the valley are Latino or East Asian. Unlike most major cities, especially on the eastern seaboard, there is not a strong minority of Africans and African-Americans, due to the fact that the valley was settled by an entirely Caucasian population. In fact, the black ethnic group accounts for only three percent of the population, as opposed to places like Baltimore, MA (65% African/Afro-American) or Atlanta, GA (59%). (Map/Chart reference; IV. Ethnic/Racial Makeup of Salt Lake City)
Health care in Salt Lake is among the most developed available in U.S. population centres. Two large health-related organisations, Intermountain Health Care and the University of Utah Hospital, both base their operations in Salt Lake, specializing in treatment and research, respectively12 13. Large donations from private persons have given both facilities a high level of technology for both study and application. Facilities for births and care of the elderly are at a high rate in comparison to many places even within the United States and Europe. In fact, the area has the nation’s fourth-largest concentration of biomedical firms, many of which are associated with one of the aforementioned services14. The Natural Increase Rate in Salt Lake has been one of the nation’s highest in the past. (Map/Chart Reference; II. Population Statistics)
From its origins in pure primary-sector economic activity, Salt Lake’s development has been prompted by the migration of those who sought to make Salt Lake a midpoint/rest stop on the way from East to West. The Transcontinental Railroad plans put the line straight above the city, prompting construction jobs as the structures reached farther towards each other. Along with construction came mining, something previously practised only for granite or for minimal amounts of metals in the eastern mountains. Excavation on the western edge of the valley brought a high amount of business with the outside world, driving Salt Lake’s economy higher than ever before. Eventually, when the higher levels of development began to sprawl outward from the central city, new economic niches were created and the economy thus grew even more. By today, the city has become a centre for Industrial Banking, which is the process by which commercial corporations grant loans to companies as a bank would, something which has been banned in all but six other states. Personal banks also abound in the business district, as do centres for research, study and technological manufacturing. Cheap and abundant land makes Salt Lake attractive to take-off businesses that need headquarters near a population centre to cater to and through which to keep contact with the developed world.
Cultural Patterns and Processes
Cultural values in Salt Lake are heavily reliant on Christian models and more specifically on the LDS Church’s standards for members. Even many of the people who are of other faiths conform to many Mormon standards simply because they thus fit better into the community. Salt Lake has some of the lowest nation-wide rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption, and the lowest number of deaths caused by these. Political views tend to be extremely conservative and Republican-oriented, including such things as being against same-sex marriage and abortion. Salt Lake County has not collectively voted for a Democrat president since the 1964 elections15.
The architectural influence of early settlers is still very much felt in the downtown area and in Salt Lake Suburbs. Small shops still thrive at street level in the Business District, although they are dominated by skyscrapers. The residential Avenues are very reminiscent of an early east coast town, with small alleyways in the back leading to garages for the block’s homes, structured more around the smaller and less common automobiles of earlier times. It seems apparent that the revolution of the automobile did not hit until the city had expanded outside of the bounds of downtown and the Avenues. Aside from the fact that downtown streets are made wide enough to accommodate modern needs (due to a rare case of foresight on the part of the settlers), the area overall was developed primarily with horse drawn carriages and foot as the primary transportation methods. Smaller settlements were started about thirty miles from the city because that was the distance that a horse drawing a carriage could travel in a day.
Agriculture in what used to be the outer rings of the city (now modernized suburbs) was rudimentary and traditional, while farms farther out, therefore started at later times, used increasing amounts of new technology. Modern farms are large production areas that employ rolling sprinklers and tractors, requiring only one farmer for the same amount of land that could’ve been tended by ten in the days of Salt Lake’s original settlement.
A newer cultural phenomenon is that of electronic communication and entertainment. Settlements are being built farther from the cultural centre of the downtown area simply because a living can be made working from a computer. The issues of accessibility and juxtaposition of business/service were cut severely by automobiles in Salt Lake, and thrashed by the popularization of the Internet. The postal service is in fear of losing work to E-mail, and businesses need no longer spend so much on office space if all work can be done from employees’ homes. Advertising utilises both the internet and such things as television and radio, and much of what is advertised on the internet can be bought and used through it as well. Buying material products on the internet is increasingly possible through the combination of instant long-distance digital communication and transportation technologies. As of 1998, Salt Lake was ranked as having the most personal computers per capita out of all U.S. cities16.
Although Salt Lake has been fairly conservative for its entire existence, the influx of a vast array of ethnic emigrants is somewhat nullifying this. Mayor Rocky Anderson is a very liberal politician who has even led an open protest against President Bush. He supports equal rights for immigrants and same-sex couples, issues which the Christian-oriented communities of Salt Lake Valley may be a long time resolving. This shows that the population of Salt Lake City is actually much more diverse and varied than it is often portrayed as. On the other hand, Anderson is environmentally-oriented and aware of health problems caused by smoking and tobacco. He favours integration of different social, economic, religious and ethnic groups, demonstrated by his creation of the Alliance for Unity. Other signs of diverse cultural traits can be seen in such things as local art. Popular are scenes of scenic Utah and Native-American style art, as well as current national trends of Abstract Expressionism, Post-Impressionism and Minimalism. The local music scene is still heavily influenced from the legacy of Maurice Abravanel, who left many organisations and coalitions for musicians, including such things as the Utah Symphony, the Utah Opera, the Deer Valley Music Festival, and even parts of the Sundance Fill Festival, which often brings Salt Lake international recognition.
A particularly characteristic district is the area between the Downtown and the University campus, known as Central City. It is considered to extend from where high-rises end and where residential begins to become integrated between business land use. This area is filled with condominiums, small homes and apartments, as well as city/government services and nodes of local business such as Trolley Square. Other attractions in the city include the Red Butte Arboretum, the Hogle Zoo, Foothill Village Shopping Centre, For Douglas (the former U.S. Military base in SLC), and This Is The Place Heritage Park (in honour of the Pioneer settlers). A very distinctive section of the city is the Marmalade District, named for the product of many orchards and fruit plantations in the area historically and even contemporarily. Architecture in this area is based in diverse traditions, such as Russian, Gothic, Victorian and even eclectic style housing. This is considered the most vernacular-influenced region of the city17.
Although Salt Lake exerts a fairly small influence on overall global economy, there are a few things in which is specialises. Computer technology has advanced quickly in Salt Lake, in areas of research, application, and hard production. Computer and software companies often locate in the city as a compromise between cheap land and access to a population centre. Medical technology is also at an advanced rate in the city due to donations to research from distinguished residents to both the University of Utah’s hospital and to Intermountain Health Care. These two businesses have caused an agglomeration of many smaller ones that benefit from their research and sell their products.
One of the most distinctive cultural characteristics of the English language in Salt Lake is the substitute words for profanities and vulgarities. This can again be attributed to the heavy Christian (and, more specifically, Mormon) presence in the area. These substitutes are often over-emphasised in dramatic portrayals of the Salt Lake area marketed to a national audience. Words and phrases have been changed slightly to diminish the potent value while keeping basically the same meaning. Such phrases in clued ‘darn’, ‘freakin(g)’, ‘jeez’ and ‘my gosh’. These are all in common use by the common people, especially in interaction based on business, where true profanities would be considered inappropriate.
As is common with major metropolitan areas of the western United States, English is the main language, but Spanish is quickly gaining a large minority. Immigrants from Latin America are filling in more and more blue-collar jobs in the city area, and some concentrations of Spanish speakers are great enough that some individuals can survive well speaking no English whatsoever. Considering the natural segregation of the working classes, this poses very little of a problem, but it can still crush a job opportunity for a fast-food restaurant applicant who needs a job but can speak no Spanish. Listening in on the conversation in behind less-than-fancy restaurant counters reveals that Spanish is now the main medium for communication, which would make it very difficult for, say, a collage student who needs a pay check, to find a job there. Legislations for requiring all immigrants to know English have been considered unconstitutional in government meetings, but also as a necessary step towards keeping
the nation and its individual communities bound together and functioning properly. Salt
Lake City is no exception; the population of immigrants, especially Spanish-speaking Latin-Americans, has increased at an exponential rate alongside every major metropolitan area in the United States. Coming mostly from Central America, most immigrants have received little or no education, and therefore are filling the proletarian jobs; construction labour, janitorial work, road services, fast-food restaurants. This has effectively transformed many lower-class places of work into small pockets where Spanish is the dominant language. Multilingualism is no longer an absolutely necessary trait for an immigrant who wants a pay check. The controversial English-only legislation will have a profound impact when its effects reach Utah18.
Political Organisation of Space
The Salt Lake-Provo Corridor is Utah’s only major metropolitan area. Some areas usually referred to as Salt Lake are actually not part of the city; instead they are suburbs such as Sandy, West Valley City, Midvale and Draper, or perhaps county land or unincorporated Salt Lake. While Salt Lake City’s population is often concentrated in the downtown metropolitan area in the day, most of its permanent inhabitants live in a nearby neighbourhood. Some of these older neighbourhoods established when travel was less efficient and people had to live close to the downtown, are currently part of Salt Lake City, such as the Avenues and Sugarhouse. Some regions of the border in the northwest corner of the city are defined by the Great Salt Lake, although the city does actually occasionally extend over parts of the lake. These areas are less inhabited, covered by such things as Kennecott Copper operations, the SLC Intl. Airport and the Warehouse District. The boundaries enclose about 110 square miles of land area19. (Map/Chart Reference; III. Salt Lake City Boundaries)
Because most suburban dwellers are in some way connected to the city, identity is not a strong factor in the general population. While people from different suburbs might specify where they are from specifically to other locals, abroad most people from Salt Lake Valley would refer to themselves as being from Salt Lake City, no matter the actual locale. There is little distinct identity that living in the city gives largely because of the great variation between sections of the city. More potent would be identifying oneself from specific neighbourhoods; higher class businessmen from Sugarhouse and the Wasatch Foothill neighbourhoods, ethnic immigrants with lower-paying jobs in the areas west of the city, small families and city workers in the Avenues. These economically distinct areas tend to transcend city boundaries, conforming rather to physical features and random patterns of settlement. A stronger sense of identity would be gleaned from which of the city sections you live and are employed in. Business between the city and the suburbs is strong because of the economic ties formed by many people living in the suburbs yet working in the city.
The city is particularly comparable to a nation-state because of its unique origin. Whereas most cities develop as ports or markets, Salt Lake was almost randomly selected by the Mormon Pioneers as a place to begin development. Thus, a single group, likened by their common faith and common circumstance, began a system of development that was far more unified than most. The system of government allowed many excess rights to the LDS church than normal, because of the population’s willing submission to its authority. This was cause for the city to be developed in a structured state20.
Salt Lake City is based on what used to be a fairly unpopulated area in relation to the east United States and some place along the west coast. The few Native American tribes who occasionally passed through or lived in the valley were displaced or diverted from what may have been regular patterns of movement due to the settlement of the valley by Europeans. Salt Lake was somewhat of an undesirable for the US government until it became more than a Mormon colony; the railroad’s completion just north of the city brought multiple groups of ethnic, linguistic and racial character, attracted to newly discovered mining in the west valley and to farming everywhere else. 21
Internally, Salt Lake City is divided into electoral districts by population- giving each of the seven council districts about 26,000 residents. These areas are mostly defined
by neighbourhoods; Sugarhouse is a high-class neighbourhood at the southeast end of the
city, the Avenues (which has a separate street-naming system from the rest of the valley, ascending by letter rather than number) is an East-Coast style area surrounding Capitol Hill in the north east. The west side of the city, being separated distinctly from the east side by the north-south Interstate 15, is typically home to the lower-income, working class because housing there is more affordable. This area includes the neighbourhoods of Rose Park and Glendale, which are largely considered to be ‘slums’. Not only is the east side where the original neighbourhoods are (due to their proximity to sources of fresh water from the mountain springs and snow runoff), but recently the area has become increasingly expensive because a house on the ‘benches’, small plateaus at the foot of the mountains formed by water levels in prehistoric Lake Bonneville, affords panoramic views of the valley. In the year 2003, the areas marked now as North and South Salt Lake were separated from the main city because they are considerably more residential than urban.
Cheap land in the more extreme areas of the city makes Salt Lake a prime place to locate business headquarters. Utah is one of only seven United States that has not put internal bans on Industrial Banking, which is the functioning of a commercial corporation in the manner of a bank as far as granting loans to businesses22. Thus, Salt Lake has been greatly invested in from abroad by large companies that offer industrial banking. Since small start-up businesses are typical to Salt Lake, the presence of Industrial Banks compliments their economic contribution by granting the small businesses a loan. The climate of Utah is not often well-suited to farming, but is ideal for enclosed, air-conditioned cement office buildings for both types of business, local and industrial, to flourish. These are two more categories of businesses that attract the aforementioned groups; skilled and specialized technological workers, and blue-collar menial workers to fill the lower class positions such as development and maintenance.
Salt Lake City is based on what used to be a fairly unpopulated area in relation to the east United States and some place along the west coast. The few Native American tribes who occasionally passed through or lived in the valley were displaced or diverted from what may have been regular patterns of movement due to the settlement of the valley by Europeans. Salt Lake was somewhat of an undesirable for the US government until it became more than a Mormon colony; the railroad’s completion just north of the city brought multiple groups of ethnic, linguistic and racial character, attracted to newly discovered mining in the west valley and to farming everywhere else.
Agricultural and Rural Land Use
While the rest of Utah is mostly farmland or unsettled, Salt Lake and its suburbs are the only areas in the state where agriculture is not common. Historically, however, farming has shaped the community very much. The city was unique in that it was not close to any other peopled area, so there was never any need for the people to produce more food than they themselves could eat. Salt Lake was not a market area because it is too far away from most cities and people to be convenient. The people, therefore, practiced mostly subsistence agriculture23.
Because the Wasatch Front area is so densely populated and urbanized, there is little farmland there. Farms tend to be located in the middle of U
tah, where there are hardly any people and land is cheap. Produce is shipped from these areas to all
Since the valley floor is now covered mostly with asphalt or grass, agriculture within city limits is extremely rare. Most food is imported from the large farms in mid-Utah, where land is cheap, fertile and abundant. Transportation corridors have been established showing the general flow of agriculture income; interstates south of the city flow together and flow into the valley. Interstates going east and west link Salt Lake to other major population centres, from where foods unsuited to Utah’s climate are grown, and to where much of Utah’s agricultural production goes.
Historical Salt Lake City probably conforms closest to the von Thï¿½nen land use model, although it was much more planned and organized than a community that develops to the von Thï¿½nen model naturally. The Temple site is the true centre of the city, but markets surrounded it for many years until it became hedged in by tertiary services businesses. The von Thï¿½nen model is even specifically tailored so that the population centre portrayed is in an ‘isolated state’, which Salt Lake undoubtedly was and still is, having no other rival population centre close to it, apart from Provo, which could almost be considered an edge city. The physical expansion of the rings of agriculture in the von Thï¿½nen model were due to two things; to accommodate the expanding urban area as it became more populous; to improve technologies for growing, harvesting and transporting crops.
An assumption that the von Thnen model makes that does not apply to Salt Lake is that the market is a place where many people needed to come for their food. Salt Lake was started as what could have been an entirely self-sufficient community, relying entirely on subsistence agriculture. Every person who settled the valley originally was aware that there would be no other people and that they would have to provide for themselves. A market place was not entirely necessary for the survival of the population, but it developed around the one place where all the people tended to congregate anyways; around the temple dedicated to their common religion. Service professions developed largely at the same time that Ford revolutionized the automobile, making suburbs increasingly feasible, especially suburbs with their own small markets.
The phenomenon of Agricultural Mechanization hit Utah and Salt Lake City just as the downtown area was starting to emerge as a developed region- or, more specifically, a region that was not dependant on subsistence agriculture. Modernization of agriculture that promoted major levels of commercial farming diffused to the area just as farms became outlying businesses, no longer a central sector of commerce. Therefore, most of the newer farms in the more remote areas of the state were able to establish themselves using more modern methods of irrigation, fertilization and harvesting. This gave Salt Lake the resources to become developed along with other major metropolitan areas in the country, although it has had much less time to do so.
Almost all of the original agricultural lands of what is now Salt Lake City have been paved over. Occasionally an orchard or field is left between buildings, perhaps even one still tended to that produces crops, but the major source of food is now the middle of the state. Salt Lake’s road systems, however, were designed to accommodate agriculture-based community- blocks have large square areas and every road leads to any location you may want to go to.
Because Salt Lake was established just at the dawn of the second agricultural revolution, it experienced a much shorter period between subsistence farming being dominant and commercial farming being dominant. Technologies to make commercial farming possible were available at roughly the time that Salt Lake became a notable population centre. Therefore, the farms that are now covered by urban sprawl used more traditional and inefficient techniques, while those that still operate today tend towards modern methods. Immigrants brought a sudden jump with the new agricultural innovations from the east. New farms outside of the valley tended to be much larger than would be needed to feed a single family, and thus served as major food sources for the Salt Lake Valley. Salt Lake City itself has almost no farmland left; food is grown in southern parts of the state or elsewhere and imported to local markets for sale.
There are now very few people who practice subsistence agriculture, and then they mostly use it as a means to provide themselves with food while selling a larger bulk of the crops at a market. Any people that practice solely subsistence are usually located far away from any concentration of people and do not contribute to the economy or the community at a relevant scale. Commercial agriculture accounts for almost every person’s food intake in the city, seeing as there is virtually no useable farmland within the city borders. The downtown area is no longer a market place for food, as the von Thnen model would have it. While downtown is centred around business and entertainment, stores providing food tend to diffuse so away from the centre of business and closer to where their customers actually live; in residential areas. These areas have been developed mostly in large chunks as planned communities, so centres of population are easy to identify. The unique construction of the suburbs, which follow logical patterns of north-south-east-west and, on a larger scale, focusing towards the downtown area, allows for marketplaces to plan their locations with the flow of people in mind24.
A food shortage is a constant threat to the people in Salt Lake Valley, simply because an earthquake could potentially disrupt lines of supply into the area, and there is little land area dedicated to agriculture within the valley that would sustain as many people. There are no water ports that would give the city import/export options, so virtually all food is carried in via ground car. Any sort of shifting in the mountains that hedge the valley in would likely disrupt every major entry point into the valley, making importation of food from the south or elsewhere extremely inefficient and costly. There is a slight promise of redemption if such a dire situation ever presents itself, however. The inhabitants of the valley are well aware of the danger and most stock a store of essentials (mostly dehydrated foods such as flour, wheat, salt, milk, raisins) to sustain themselves until the normal flow of food production could be re-established.
Industrialization and Economic Development
Industry in Salt Lake City has recently progressed to match some of the nation’s other top cities in levels of production and advancement. Because it is one of the youngest population centres, it has served as a prime location for new and specialized businesses to move in and take root. Salt Lake was first industrialized when the Transcontinental Railroads brought workers to the west end of the valley for mining jobs, creating a need for higher levels of technology. Contemporarily, Salt Lake is a centre for business places that do not depend on natural resources directly, such as business headquarters or offices of law and finance25. These businesses have chosen to locate in Salt Lake recently because land is cheap and plentiful, because communication/transportation technology allows a headquarters to be be far away from a manufactory, and simply because other businesses of similar types are already in the area.
The Industrial Revolution was already in full force when Salt Lake went through its period of ‘maturation’ from a farming community to a contributer to the national economy. The city was able to install a streetcar system from about 1870-1890, which was eventually surpassed in use by the automobile, as happened in the rest of the country. The widespread use of the automobile prompted roads and settlements to sprawl out quickly across the largely uninhabited valley. 26
One of the most far-reaching effects of Salt Lake’s development according to accessibility by modern means of transportation and, to a lesser extent, communication, is the massive amount of urban sprawl that can be observed in the valley. Whereas most major cities were developed with urban residences for workers in mind, much of Salt Lake’s development was planned around the knowledge that a commute from one end of the valley to another every day would be reasonable. There are indeed a high number of people who live in a suburb, such as Sandy, Draper, Midvale and Jordan that make a daily commute to the downtown area and back to keep a steady income. The population of Salt Lake City (182,000 people) is about one tenth of the total population of the Salt Lake Valley (1,700,000 people). The thick layer of pollution this causes is often visible on the opposing side of the valley from the observer as a haze, or even as a blanket when viewed from the vantage of a canyon. A local group of doctors currently has the government’s attention with adamant demands that Utah’s air quality be saved by implementing measures to encourage mass transit, discourage wasteful use of fuel, and even limit the outputs of coal plants.27
The economic centre of Salt Lake is a high-density section in the Midwest area of the city. Almost all financial activity that occurs within Salt Lake City on a city- and state-wide scale takes place in the downtown area surrounding the Mormon Temple Square, which has naturally developed into a modern metropolis of skyscrapers housing financial, legal, educational and political offices. To the north of down town, the border of Salt Lake comes shortly past the Capitol Building; to the south and the east, the residential neighbourhoods, the Avenues and Sugarhouse, provide little economic activity except at a more localized scale, consisting of daily transactions for food, clothing, fuel and entertainment. The west sections of the city, as well as the branch that stretches eastward into the mountains, are largely uninhabited. The area stretching from immediately west of the downtown to about two-thirds of the way to the western edge of the city limits constitutes the Warehouse district, where some forms of manufacturing still survive. This area is characterized by low-class neighbourhoods like Glendale and Rose Park. (Map/Chart Reference; V. Salt Lake Districts)
As a result of these sharp distinctions, there is sharp contrast in the types of residency in different areas of the city. The two main residential areas are the Avenues/Sugarhouse area and the western end of the warehouse district. Workers in the Warehouse district typically afford small and cheap dwellings, of which there is an abundance of in the suburbs directly south of the warehouse district, West Valley City and Midvale. The Avenues is one of Salt Lake’s first real neighbourhoods, having its own nominal street system (using letters rather than numbers) and built resembling an east-coast town rather than a Midwestern settlement. Sugarhouse is a less structured neighbourhood, but land values in both are comparatively high. Thus, most of the upper income class service workers are employed in the downtown area and live in a neighbourhood to the south or east, or in a suburb outside of the city. Lower class workers that are employed in the Warehouse district or as blue-collar workers within the city tend to live in the midwestern area in neighbourhoods such as Rose Park and Glendale, or possibly in the oldest residencies in the CBD or in Central City.
Salt Lake’s main outputs and exports are limited mostly to technologies and some low-scale manufacturing, as well as highly advanced services in medical technology. The city’s role on a global scale is largely limited to that of consumer. Agriculture is almost nonexistent within the city borders; most people rely solely on imported packaged foods. Considering the great amount of urban sprawl that extends outwards from the SLC boundaries, it is also apparent that Salt Lake is a major consumer of petroleum fuel. Computer and software companies have been attracted to Salt Lake recently because of the combination of low land costs and juxtaposition to a centre of transportation, communication and business.
Salt Lake exhibits strong similarities with the town of Thurles, which is situated in Tipperary County on the south end of Ireland, hence their status as Sister Cities. Thurles is notably farther behind in its development than Salt Lake, but it shows signs of progressing in the same way. The population of about eight thousand relies on economic stability from primary-sector industry, namely agriculture and the extensive mining of the silver-rich hills surrounding the valley. The town contemporarily attracts high-technology businesses, even having its own ‘Technology Park’, which is a sort of exhibition of all the specialized technological products available readily from businesses in the area. These technological industries are just the kind of businesses needed to push Thurles into a stage of rapid economic, financial and developmental growth, just as the large number of new businesses has done for Salt Lake. Much of Thurles industrialization is due to the availability of minerals in the surrounding terrain, giving an excuse for transportation corridors to more populous places, and for local manufactories to be established.29 The technology based industries will, as has happened in Salt Lake, attract skilled workers, and with them will come a wave of menial jobs such as janitorial services, eateries, dry cleaners and daycares.
Another city that bears comparison to Salt Lake is Quezon City in the Philippines, which, for a time, replaced Manila as the Capital City. While Manila is the capital city, Quezon is the most populous, and probably the most developed and advanced metropolitan area in the Philippines. As in Salt Lake City, the downtown area is highly urbanized and the economy is concentrated in the third sector, although there is a full-time farmers’ market still operational in the Business District, a feature which Salt Lake has almost lost30. Quezon City also plays host to a major university, the University of the Philippines, which specializes in many of the same fields that the University of Utah does, which is located in eastern Salt Lake31.
The deindustrialization of Salt Lake City is not as much of an issue as it is in other cities that were historically more dependant on manufacturing. Most of the manufacturing jobs left in the city are in the western quarter, which has more than enough unused space in which to expand if necessary. The downtown area hardly ever went through a phase of being a manufacturing centre. Instead, it went almost straight from town square and market to a metropolitan financial district. Due to mining at the Kennecott pit, the primary economic sector still shows a strong output, although little of this passes directly through Salt Lake’s economy. The minerals taken from the Oquirrh Mountains are still processed and made into consumer goods within the far north and mid-west areas of the city itself. It seems unlikely, given the amount of open space still extending to the edge of the Great Salt Lake, that the city will encounter problems with a lack of manufacturing in the near future. Though the city has lost population to suburbs, development continues to increase as the city attracts more daytime workers, if not permanent residents.
One of the most far-reaching effects of Salt Lake’s development according to accessibility by modern means of transportation and, to a lesser extent, communication, is the massive amount of urban sprawl that can be observed in the valley32. Whereas most major cities were developed with urban residences for workers in mind, much of Salt Lake’s development was planned around the knowledge that a commute from one end of the valley to another every day would be reasonable. There are indeed a high number of people who live in a suburb, such as Sandy, Draper, Midvale and Jordan, who make a daily commute to the downtown area and back to keep a steady income. The thick layer of pollution this causes is often visible on the opposing side of the valley as a haze, or even as a blanket when viewed from the vantage of a canyon. A local group of doctors currently has the government’s attention with adamant demands that Utah’s air quality be saved by implementing measures to encourage mass transit, discourage wasteful use of fuel, and even limit the outputs of coal plants33. There is little open land left in the industrialized areas of the city. The branch extending up the canyon is above the level at which pollution sits in the atmosphere, but is mostly unable to be developed due to terrain. The only open space in developed areas is carefully manicured parks and recreation areas, while farther west there is much undeveloped high-desert land unsuitable to anything besides heavy industry or pure-service businesses.
One of the primary development ‘plans’ instituted by the city is to not put a ban on commercially-owned lending companies, leaving them open to function fully within Salt Lake’s economy. The fact that loans are granted by entities whose primary function is (usually) retail adds to the economic boost that major corporations can give a community. The Government encourages such things as tourism (playing on Salt Lake’s unique history and location in the Midwest, notably near mountains with good snow for skiing), technological industry, and rural34. The government is also pushing projects to extend transportation infrastructures such as freeways and the Trax to facilitate outward expansion. Across the entire Salt Lake Valley, investment properties are discouraged; much red tape surrounds buying a home for the specific purpose of renting out to lower income residents. This is meant to minimize the negative affects of having low-class residents in higher residential areas. Gentrification has made one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, the Marmalade District on the west face of Capitol Hill, into an expensive and highly developed community.
Cities and Urban Land Use
Salt Lake City’s land area is developed enough to be considered entirely urban. There is virtually no rural and agricultural land left within the city. Economic activity is concentrated almost entirely in the third sector- services.Land within the city is used for a limited number of things; industry, residencies, and services. The Central Business District the most developed area, a relatively small square area with a concentration of highrises that serve as businessplaces, hotels and permanent residencies. To the south and the east, the suburbs of Sugarhouse and the Avenues are primarily residential and small-business oriented.
The land that lies to the west is used largely for second-sector industries, and land even farther west is even entirely undeveloped. This is due to two historical factors. First, the point of entry to the valley for most of the innitial immigrants was one of the canyons through the Wasatch Range on the East of the valley, so when the settled areas began to expand, new immigrants were most prone to settle in areas at the foot of the mountains, hence the long southward chain of urban development. Secondly, the best land for agriculture and basic sustaiability was along the foot of the mountains where freshwater streams provided irrigation and where soil tends to have more minerals from the mountains. The west of the valley is much less developed primarily because the middle of the valley was such a great obstacle to expansion, with its dry land, infertile soil and lesser accesability (Salt Lake City Urban Forrestry Program). This has lead naturally to the development of what is now the Salt Lake-Provo Urban corridor, spanning from the settlements north of the Salt Lake Valley to the southern end of Utah Valley, as demonstrated in the map below showing earthquake-monitoring facilities, which tend to be in high-population density areas near fault lines. The Salt Lake Urban Corridor, unfortunately, stretches almost perfectly along the Wasatch Fault. (Map/Chart Reference; VI. University of Utah Earthquake Monitoring Centers)
One of the many parts of Salt Lake’s development into an urban area that is unique from most is that there were virtually no surrounding centres of population from which people were drawn to the city during urbanisation. The population has always been clustered within the city and its suburbs, and has grown by migration, but a very small number of migrants were actually from surrounding areas; growth can be attributed, until the recent influx of migration, to natural increase36.
Indeed, as Salt Lake has become a more urbanized area, its population relative to that of its suburbs has actually decreased drastically, and its actual population has even decreased as much as two percent in five years37. Migration can account for a large part of growth; natural increase would not dictate nearly such a swift expansion. The population spike was accompanied by the popularization of the automobile and the communications revolution, two circumstances which prompted the far-reaching sprawl that covers most of the valley today. This is demonstrated by a larger view of the valley; while most land within the borders of the mountains tends to have some level of human development, there is a general trend of higher levels of development along a narrow strip stretching north and south along the valley. This strip of development surrounds Interstate Fifteen, which has played a considerable role in the development of the Urban Corridor, and especially those settlements at the far ends such as Orem and Ogden. (Map/Chart Reference; VII. Satellite Image of Salt Lake Valley)
Until very recently, Salt Lake’s primary global role was that of consumer, as agriculture and local businesses held a strictly local appeal; importation was rare, and exportation was virtually non-existent. Recently, however, due mostly to the growth in start-up businesses attracted to the valley for cheap land and proximity to a metropolitan area, the city has begun to contribute technologies and technological-related services, as well as medical advances, to the rest of the nation. Many companies dealing in computers have chosen to locate in Salt Lake or in the surrounding suburbs to take advantage of the cheap quasi-metropolitan land38. Advances in medicine have given Salt Lake international recognition for its level of achievement in this field39 40 In the wealthy east neighbourhoods, this has caused an influx of highly educated individuals from East Asian countries such as India, China and Japan, as well as Middle Eastern countries. In places such as Glendale and Rose Park, immigrants tend to be poorer and less educated. These areas typically have high numbers of immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.
The urban system of Salt Lake is fairly simple. The Central Business District is centered almost directly around the two-block plot of land known as Temple Square. The CBD is surrounded by nodes of more singular use, such as the University of Utah campus, the Gateway Shopping Centre and the Capitol Building, interspersed with small businesses and residencies. Although much of the central downtown area is shaddowed by highrise buildings, many small local businesses remain functional at street level. Bookstores, cafï¿½s, drugstores and artisans’ shops all feed the economy on a more local scale, in addition to the mega-employers such as the government, the University, comercial chains and the LDS church. Immediately outside of the business district, the neighbourhood of Sugarhouse Park causes a break-down in the tight grid pattern of the city. To the east lies the neighbourhood of the Avenues, which, unlike its southern counterpart, conforms to a grid pattern just as strict as the downtown’s.
While these two neighbourhoods probably have the highest percentage of people who work in the downtown area living in them, the suburbs that extend to the very southern end of the valley should all be considered part of Salt Lake City’s Metropolitan Statistic Area primarily because these suburbs are simply far-flung developments for city workers. This is demonstrated by the overall structure of major road and other transportation systems that the suburbs have developed around. The major roads which transcend the grid pattern seem to flow into the central downtown area, and minor irregular roads tend towards these major arteries. Another aspect, especially noticeable in Sandy, is a small business district along State Street, which extends from the foot of the Capitol Building, one of the more direct connections with the city. In most places along State Street, there is a large agglomeration of local businesses. The fact that this business area extends out of Salt Lake into the suburbs demonstrates how population growth in the suburbs is changing them into communities more independent of Salt Lake.
With the rise in technological industries, highly specialized workers are being increasingly attracted to the city as a place of work and as a place to live. Having been settled and inhabited by an entirely European population for some time, Salt Lake has can expect to have a very homologous ethnic composition for some time. An increase in technology, however, has attracted skilled workers from Asia; with an increase in technological production there comes an increase in level of development and therefore a greater need for lower class jobs such as construction, maintenance, gardening and cleaning. Such niches tend to be filled by immigrants from less developed Latin-American countries, especially Mexico. This is demonstrated by the sharp increase in percentage of Hispanics, where as the Asian population rose slightly slower. African/African American population nearly doubled, while Native American population grew at a slow crawl41.
This layout displays remarkeable similarities to the city of Turin, Italy. Settled by the Roman military, the original central district displays a large degree of planing, being layed out in a grid according to the Roman patterns. During the unification of Italy, Turin proved to be important as a transportation hub and node, having both high technologies and ideal centralized location, much as Salt Lake was the ‘crossroads of the west’ durring the settlement of the Pacific coast. Heavy development once brought waves of immigrants from the south, but now the business centre is becoming so pronounced that suburbanisation is causing deindustrialization and population loss within the city itself. Although population hit 1.5 million in 1960, the city today has a total of 908 thousand people, while it’s surrounding metropolitan statistical area has over 1.7 million today. The transporation infrastructure grew very comprehensive as a result of extra development in preperation to host the 2006 olympic games, just as Salt Lake’s was improved upon for the games in 2002. Currently, a highway system is being developed over the main urban rail system, and a subway is also under construction42.
A good representation of how traffic flows is described by the new light rail ‘Trax’ system run by the Utah Transit Authority. It was designed to decrease pollution levels caused by urban sprawl, namely the common commute from a suburb to the city every day. Over seventy percent of Salt Lake Valley’s population working in the city drives to work with one person per vehicle43.Trax was laid out such that it would provide the most convenience to the most people from the suburbs. There are currently two branches, the Sandy line and the University line. The Sandy line runs from the middle of Sandy City up to the centre of the business district, whereupon it turns and continues west for a few blocks to terminate in front of the Delta Centre and the Gateway shopping mall. The University line starts from the Sandy line’s stop in the business district, runs through Central City, and up through major areas of the University of Utah such as the Rice Eccles Stadium and the Hospital44. (Map/Chart Reference; VIII; Layout of Trax Lines)
This layout is similar to the Detroit, Michigan area. Council districts and voting districts are unevenly sized because of population density distortion. The area including highly developed places such as the CBD and warehouse districts tend to cover more area in order to group together more voters. Neighbourhoods devoted primarily to residential land use tend to be smaller in size, as people are clustered close together, often even on top of one another45. This is similar to the layout of Salt Lake’s districts, which are much smaller in the areas covering the neighbourhoods of Sugarhouse and the Avenues, while they are much smaller over the CBD and the warehouse district.
Salt Lake is currently extending development by encouraging the building of new roads leading farther west, into the undeveloped and uninhabited sectors of the city going out to the lake. These areas have recently become highly attractive to start-up businesses that need a cheap place for headquarters, while remaining in a major metro area. Along with the encouragement of businesses, the government encourages large community developers to build housing developments around and between the businesses to extend population capacity within the city. Along with land to be developed, wild lands have been set aside as places to keep natural when expansion would otherwise destroy them. Parks and wildlife habitats have been determined in advance and will stay clear of housing or office space development. After the 2002 Olympics, there has been a relapse in the development explosion that was initiated in order to accommodate international guests. Places such as the Gateway shopping mall, which are pre-designed common areas for shopping, dining and social interaction, are likely to become common in the outer expansions of the city due to the higher level of planning the government is dedicating to new areas46.
Because most of the eastern city is already heavily developed, the most logical area to continue development in is the west side. Besides the warehouse district and some low-income housing, this area is largely undeveloped. A few simple extensions of roadways and train lines could facilitate growth around new centres for business and trade outside of the central business district. A simple plan would include: a region where businesses are given incentive to establish themselves and agglomerate; a residential region for workers of the new businesses; a farther-out development for smaller-scale business like retail and shopping; housing developments around this area; a transportation corridor extending from the central city/transportation hub through both areas to encourage linear growth first, and outward expansion later. (Map/Chart Reference; IX. Theoretical Development Plan for West Salt Lake)
Demographic development is becoming more pronouncedly divided as more low-income jobs are created and filled, mostly now by uneducated immigrants. Such jobs tend to be in the warehouse district, which covers a large portion of the areas west of the CBD. Thus, neighbourhoods in this area have a higher density of low-income ethnic groups than almost anywhere else in the valley, while neighbourhoods such as the East Bench, known for its high land values, have a more homogenous ethnic makeup, i.e. high percentages of Caucasians. A recent period has seen increased percentages of high-income immigrants into Sugarhouse and the Avenues, which are mostly considered upper-middle class. These immigrants tend to be families or couples highly-educated heads-of-families, mostly from East Asia, Oceania and India47.
With the rise in technological industries, highly specialized workers are being increasingly attracted to the city as a place of work and as a place to live. Having been settled and inhabited by an entirely European population for some time, Salt Lake has can expect to have a very homologous ethnic composition for some time. An increase in technology, however, has attracted skilled workers from Asia; with an increase in technological production there comes an increase in level of development and therefore a greater need for lower class jobs such as construction, maintenance, gardening and cleaning. Such niches tend to be filled by immigrants from less developed Latin-American countries, especially Mexico. This is demonstrated by the sharp increase in percentage of Hispanics, where as the Asian population rose slightly slower. African/African American population nearly doubled, while Native American population grew at a slow crawl48. (Map/Chart Reference; IV. Ethnic/Racial Makeup of Salt Lake City)
There is a sharp contrast between the neighbourhoods of the Avenues, which lies at the edge of the Wasatch Mountains to the east of the CBD, and places like Rose Park and Glendale, which are to the west, more in the middle of the desolate valley. Currently, Rose Park and Glendale are the worst-off areas in the city because they are home to those who work in the warehouse district and at blue-collar jobs in the city. Given the cost of a home and of raising a family, keeping a neighbourhood well-maintained is virtually out of the question in these poorer areas, so they quickly degenerate into what could be considered slums. These are the areas that are seemingly most prone to becoming Ghettos; they have already attracted the poverty-stricken ethnic minorities common to poor districts. As the decay of these areas brings down the value of local land, more low-income families are attracted, regenerating the cycle of degradation. In west Salt Lake City, there is now a clear distinction between areas where the rich and the poor live.
Gentrification is already playing a major role in the Avenues, especially from Salt Lake’s surprisingly large group of same-sex couples49. Being the oldest real neighbourhood in Salt Lake, many of the homes are in great need of repair and modernization. Land prices here have gone up significantly here in the last decade as modern technology is placed along side nostalgic structures and development patterns, such as the New England style houses and the arrangement of houses such that a central road provides access to the back of every house on a given block. This pattern is not seen commonly in newer developments, where the ‘American Dream’ layout is more popular, due to the low cost of land and distance from the city. This design places each house on a large lot of its own with a garage in the front and front, side and back yards. While these developments are gaining popularity as the population spreads across the valley, it certainly seems more economic to make a large-scale effort to restore areas such as Glendale and Rose Park, neighbourhoods notorious for their degraded states. These places are ideally located for workers in the city, and current land prices would be no obstacle to a group who intended to begin fixing the area back up to modern standards.
Salt Lake’s layout could be considered fairly concentric. In the innermost zone, the Central Business District is marked by high-rise structures and wide streets. The next layer is devoted to smaller local businesses, and the next is a much wider fan of residences; cheap in the west and expensive to the south, east and north. Farther to the west, especially below the airport, there is a zone where manufacturing is still the primary industry. This area, often called the Warehouse District, could be considered an outlying centre of business past the outer ring of the interstates 15 and 215, which serve as rough boundaries for the Local Business District’s edge.
After a long period of being concentrated, Salt Lake’s population is moving outward in a ripple. Transportation technology arrived in time to cause Salt Lake to be developed in such a way that the transportation infrastructure is based around the automobile or the train. Besides the initial parties that set out from Salt Lake to start new towns, most sprawl around the city was in small bursts of expansion, as facilitated by current technological-based ranges of everyday movement. By today, Salt Lake is actually losing whole percentage points of population due to a heavy trend of movement to the suburbs. The business district was once almost entirely residential, aside from LDS church buildings, yet today the first residential structure do not appear until about five blocks away from the city core, which is about where Central City is considered to begin. Even then, the closest homes are dilapidated and boarded structures preserved only as historical icons, or because they would be uneconomic to restore. Real residencies don’t appear until the apartments about ten blocks away from the CBD edge, in Central City’s apartment area. Recent trends of movement within the community have been mostly at movement towards the neighbourhoods on the edges touching suburbs.
Salt Lake has recently seen a decline in population as the level of sprawl across the valley increases, prompting more to move to the much cheaper and expansive suburban areas50. Not only is it increasingly possible for people to commute very long distances daily to go to a job, it is even feasable that a living could be made working across the internet for a business downtown from inside the home. While this may not yet be a major factor in employment/residence patterns, there are now new settlements extending up into the mountains at the far end of the valley, pushing the limits of how far someone will drive to work.
Another phenomenon driving people into the suburbs is the development of business centres within the suburbs themselves. A small district in Holliday, just off of the 215 freeway exit at 6200 South, has a few buildings that might be considered high-rises, although they are substantially wider than they are tall. The cluster of these buildings has attracted local eateries and small businesses to ‘fill in the cracks’ between the corporate centres. Sandy has a small business district centred around City Hall and the Southtowne Mall. Probably more than anything, this has encouraged the movement of people to the suburbs.
I. Population of Salt Lake City by Age.
II. Population Statistics. Showing births and deaths per 1000 people per year for the years 1960-2005. Natural Increase Rate (NIR) is the number of births minus the number of deaths.
III. Salt Lake City Boundaries. A map of the actual boundaries of Salt Lake City (shown in bold). To the northeast is the Great Salt Lake. Although most major population density cuts off at the foot of the mountain and about two-thirds of the way west from the centre of the city, the boundaries extend to cover these areas because they are used largely for first-sector businesses which require much land and few people. Note also the disintegration of the grid pattern farther out from the central area, which is directly under the text ‘Salt Lake City’.
IV. Ethnic/Racial Makeup of Salt Lake City. With such a low level of heterogenic population structure, there is little in the way of districts and neighbourhoods occupied predominantly by one ethnic group. There is a tendency for lower-income families to live in the south and southwest areas of the city, and these families are often recent immigrants from Latin America. This tendency is magnified outside of the city in suburbs such as Midvale and Jordan, where immigrants have historically found work mining and manufacturing51.
V. Salt Lake City Districts. The green area is the large Warehouse District; the blue covers the Avenues and Sugarhouse, and the red shows the relatively small Downtown area, where most financial and economic activity takes place.
VI. University of Utah Earthquake Monitoring Centres.
Showing the instalations of Urban Earthquake Monitoring Centers in the Great Salt Lake area. Apart from the outlying centers to the east and west of the Salt Lake Valley, these centers accurately portray the layout of the Salt Lake-Provo Urban Corridor52. There is debate on wheather the corridor should be considered to extend on to Ogden and Logan to the north53.
VII. Satellite Image of Salt Lake Valley. Showing the developed areas of
the Salt Lake Valley. The edges of settlement tend to correspond to the bases of mountains, especially along the eastern edges of the urbanized areas. I-15 is outlined by a clearly visible light strip extending from the top right corner to the centre of the bottom of the valley54. North is up and slightly to the left, in the direction 1-15 runs. Image from Google Maps55.
VIII. Layout of Trax Lines. The north-south line (left, blue) extends south into the suburbs, currently terminating in Sandy, although extensions are planned to service growing communities past Sandy. The right line (red), running mostly east and west, services Central City and terminates after several stops across the University of Utah campus. The central station, marked with ‘T’, is the Transfer station right in the middle of the modern business district. In this way, the many employees of the University of Utah who live in the suburbs can make use of both lines to go from their home to work every day without contributing to congestion56. General boundaries of cities are marked with bold lines; the sections marked ‘University of Utah’ and ‘Centre City’ are part of Salt Lake City.
IX. Theoretical Development Plan for West Salt Lake. These few areas were selected as starter-districts for new development to take root in and spread outward from. The Orange area denotes an easily accessible area between two major roadways already in existence, making it an ideal place for new businesses to take hold and develop. The rightmost red area would suit this new business district as the residency for its workers. If it were to be developed by large companies in large sections, it would likely attract highly educated workers who would contribute to both areas’ economic development. The left red area would function as yet another extension for businesses to cluster (at the area around the red dot). Between this small-scale retail centre, for businesses that cater directly to individuals like clothing stores and restaurants, and the open-space park, this area would also attract rings of suburban development around them, extending in a linear pattern along the blue line, which could be both an extension of Trax and a widening of main streets from the central city.
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