Salt Lake City, usually shortened to SLC or Salt Lake, is the capital and most populous city in the state of Utah. Salt Lake City is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin, along with Reno, Nevada, and it is the largest city in the Intermountain West.
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. The Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area, including Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties, had a population of 1.34 million in 2000. The Census Bureau has since added Tooele and Summit counties to the Salt Lake City metro area while removing Davis and Weber counties. The larger Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah Combined Statistical Area has a population of 2.4 million and is comprised of a corridor of development that stretches 120 miles along the Wasatch Front.
Salt Lake has 6.75% of Utah's total population and 18% of Salt Lake County's population. The city proper is more populated than the surrounding area with a population density of more than 1,689 people per square mile, or 1,050 per square kilometer.
Salt Lake City Suburbs
Aside from Salt Lake City, major suburbs and incorporated places in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area include:
- West Valley City is a suburb of Salt Lake City with a population estimated at 135,000, which makes it the second-largest city in Utah. West Valley City has a population density of 3,700 people per square mile.
- Murray is a city on the Wasatch Front and the 14th largest city in Utah with a population estimated at 50,000 with a density of 3,700 people per square kilometer.
- Midvale is a city in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area with a population of 31,000 and a density of 5,200 people per square mile.
- Draper is located in Utah and Salt Lake counties about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. It has a population of 45,000 with a density of 1,500 people per square mile.
- Tooele is located in Tooele County south of Salt Lake City with a population of 33,000 and a density of 1,065 people per square mile.
- Sandy is a suburb of Salt Lake City and the 6th largest city in Utah with a population of 90,000.
- West Jordan is one of the fastest-growing suburbs of Salt Lake with a population of 110,000 (density of 3,356 people per square mile), which makes it the 4th most populous city in Utah.
- South Jordan has a population of 60,000 with a density of 2,531 people per square mile.
- Taylorsville has a population of 60,000 with a density of 5,415 people per square mile.
- Wendover is located in Tooele County on the western border of Utah and contiguous with West Wendover, Nevada. Wendover has a population of 1,500.
- Park City is located in Summit County about 32 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Park City has a population of just 8,000, but the tourist population greatly exceeds the number of permanent residents with three major ski resorts in the city and the location of the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the U.S.
Salt Lake City Population and Diversity Statistics
For most of its history, Salt Lake has been mostly white. Between 1860 and 1950, white people accounted for 99% of the population. The demographics of Salt Lake City have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Today, Hispanics make up 22% of the total population, and there is a growing gay community. 2% of the population are Pacific Islander, mostly Samoans, and Tongans.
Housing costs in the Wasatch Front have been inflated with low housing vacancies and large families. This means that 1 out of every six people live below the poverty line.
Despite being the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), under 50% of the population of Salt Lake City belongs to the LDS Church. This is lower than in the rural areas of Utah. LDS members account for 62% of Utah's total population.
Like most large cities, there are many ethnic enclaves in Salt Lake City. Hispanic and Latino Americans account for a large percentage of the population in the Glendale and Rose Park areas. The Pacific Islander population is also centered in Glendale and Rose Park, as well as Poplar Grove. The majority of the Pacific Islanders in the city belong to the LDS church. There are also new immigrant communities outside the city limits of Nepalies and refugees from Myanmar.
Salt Lake is considered one of the most gay-friendly places to live in the country with a large gay community, as well as the largest Jewish congregation in Utah. This has led to controversy from socially conservative officials, however. A 2006 UCLA study found that 7.6% of the population of the city is openly bisexual or gay, compared to less than 4% for the metropolitan area.
Salt Lake City History
Before Europeans arrived in the area, Ute, Shoshone, and Paiute people had lived in the area for thousands of years. It was actually in the territory of the Northwestern Shoshone at the time Salt Lake City was founded, but their occupation was seasonal. The government never recognized an aboriginal title by the group.
Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and other Mormon followers. The city was originally named the Great Salt Lake City because of its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, but the "Great" was dropped by 1868. The Latter-day Saints were the first permanent settlers to the area, as they were looking for an isolated area to practice their religion. The site for the Salt Lake Temple was designated just days after arriving in the area, and it later became a famous landmark. The temple took 40 years to complete.
The Mormon pioneers then organized a state called Deseret and petitioned for recognition in 1849. The United States rebuffed this and established the Utah territory, designating Fillmore as the capital, although Salt Lake was replaced as capital a decade later. Meanwhile, the population of Salt Lake continued to grow as Mormon converts and gold seekers flooded the new city, which became one of the largest in the American Old West.
Before long, disputes with the government over the Mormon practice of polygamy worsened until, in 1857, President James Buchanan declared the area in rebellion and began the Utah War. In 1890, the LDS Church began to abandon polygamy, paving the way for Utah's statehood in 1896.
Salt Lake City Facts
- Salt Lake City was ranked as the vainest city in the U.S. by Forbes based on cosmetics spending and the high number of plastic surgeons.
- In the early 20th century, pollution was so bad in the city that it created a Smoke Department.
- In the 1970s, the nearby city of Bingham was destroyed by a massive open-pit copper mine.
- The mountains near Salt Lake receive an average snowfall of 500 inches.
- Salt Lake and Utah are known for world-class snow that is unusually dry.
- SLC has one of the largest LGBT communities in the country.
- While the Great Salt Lake is larger than the state of Delaware, it has an average depth of just 13 feet.