Historic downtown Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City History

Learn about the rich history of this thriving city.

Salt Lake City was founded on July 24, 1847 by a group of pioneers led by Brigham Young. These pioneers, who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came to Utah to have a place where they could freely practice their religion. A few days after arrival they began drawing plans for the city, starting from a single point and fanning out into a grid system of 10-acre blocks. Today’s Temple Square was the city center, with the start of the grid at the “Base and Meridian” on the corner of South Temple and Main Street.

In 1848, more pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, which was originally part of Mexico. That same year, a treaty was signed that made the area a part of the United States and in 1850, it was named the “State of Deseret,” meaning honeybee. The beehive later became the state symbol.

Construction of the Salt Lake Temple began in 1853, but the building was not completed until 1893. The lengthy construction time was due to limited transportation for materials and a desire to make the temple perfectly beautiful and strong. In the meantime, the transcontinental railroad was completed with the driving in of the Golden Spike in Promontory Point, Utah, and many more people migrated to the area to make a fortune in the mines. In 1896, Utah became the 45th state in the United States.

Salt Lake City continued to grow throughout the 1900s. In the 1960s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invested in building a shopping center called ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution) in order to keep business thriving downtown. Recently, this mall was torn down and rebuilt into what is now the City Creek Center. Temple Square remains the center of Salt Lake City and the most historic location in the state of Utah.


50 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150