Salt Lake City is certainly an interesting place to live, for many reasons. There are many reasons to move to SLC, but some things that kind of suck too (like those damn winter inversions!). It's mostly good though, which is why Salt Lake City is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Sure, some SLC residents take things for granted. We appreciate quite a bit too, and take pride in our beautiful city. But then there's all these goofy, obscure facts that many of us, both long-time and brand new residents alike, have never heard about our city. Some of them are funny, some interesting, and some just flat out weird! Which ones are which? We'll let you be the judge.
How many of these 20 Awesome Things You Never Knew about Salt Lake City did you already know?
1. There's a monster in the Great Salt Lake!
To be honest, I've lived here my whole life and have never heard about the North Shore Monster until just recently. But that doesn't make it any less interesting! Back in the 1840's, some workers of a salt-producing company on the Great Salt Lake's north shore claim to have seen a creature with “a crocodile-like body and the head of a horse” swimming around in the lake, just off the shore. The creature allegedly made a strange bellowing noise and charged at those workers, who quickly ran for cover. The North Shore Monster hasn't been spotted since.
2. The Sandlot and Dumb and Dumberwere filmed in SLC
Who can forget classic movie lines “You're killing me, smalls!” and “Big Gulps, huh? Welp, see ya later!”? American classics, both of them. We all grew up watching The Sandlot and certainly Dumb and Dumber. But did you know both of these iconic films were filmed here in Salt Lake City? The Sandlotwas filmed in the Rose Park/Glendale area of Salt Lake City, and the original baseball field is still there to this day (which we highlighted on Salt Lake Insider: Episode 12) ; complete with wooden dugouts, Sandlot Anniversary banners, and other recognizable movie paraphernalia.
Dumb and Dumber was filmed in quite a few locations around SLC, Ogden, and Heber City as well. Remember Lloyd Christmas daydreaming about showing up at Mary Samsonite's house? That was actually the upscale La Caille restaurant in Sandy. The gala where Harry and Lloyd wore their famous powder blue and orange tuxes? Filmed at the Union Pacific Depot Ballroom at The Gateway. Harry and Lloyd's apartment was filmed at the Smith Apartments near 300 East 200 South in SLC. See more locations HERE.
Ohh, and have you ever thought about what would have happened if Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson got married? She would have become Mary Christmas 🙂 Thank you, I'll be here all week.
3. State Street literally became a river in the flood of 1983
Seriously. I'm not exaggerating. In 1983, a massive flood turned State Street in downtown Salt Lake City into a river, which flowed for weeks! From KSL: “With a deep snowpack, temperatures rose into the 90s over Memorial Day weekend, and City Creek, which runs along North Temple, overflowed, reaching the LDS Church Office Building and running into Temple Square. Buildings on Temple Square and the Salt Palace were sandbagged as water overtook South Temple. The newly formed river rushed along State Street toward the river at 1300 South, but was contained at 800 South. Water continued to flow for weeks, though, and temporary bridges had to be built to allow vehicles and pedestrians to get around the city.” Can you imagine!!
4. Utah has the Greatest Snow on Earth™
It's possible to really geek out over the science of Utah's world famous snow, but even us non-scientists know we have something special here. The Wasatch Front has a perfect combination of temperature, humidity (or lack thereof), frequency of snow storms, etc to make our powder just so damn fluffy and perfect. Utah's snow has a snow density of 8.5, which means the snow is 8.5% moisture. That's unique to Utah and may very well be the key ingredient to the Greatest Snow on Earth. Venture up the road 4-5 hours to Jackson Hole and you'll find their snow is noticeably different than ours. Slightly heavier, and more moist. Utah snow FTW!
5. The world's first KFC is here in Salt Lake
In 1952, Colonel Sanders franchised his recipe and restaurant, then called Sanders Court & Cafe, to Pete Harman, a friend from SLC. Harman opened the world's first Kentucky Fried Chicken at the corner of 3900 S State Street in SLC, which he originally named Harman's Cafe. It's still a KFC to this day, with a big sign that says Harman KFC as well as “World's First KFC.”
6. The Utah Jazz originally came from New Orleans
You'd be forgiven if you thought that Jazz was a strange, unfitting name for Utah's pro basketball team. You're right, it doesn't fit at all. So why did they choose the name Jazz?, Well, they didn't. They were originally the New Orleans Jazz before moving the team to Salt Lake City in 1979.
7. SLC was completely under water in prehistoric times
The far east side of the Salt Lake valley known as “the benches” are visible remnants of Lake Bonneville's ancient shoreline, some 30,000 -15,000 years ago. Lake Bonneville covered over 20,000 sq. mi including western Utah and smaller portions of eastern Nevada and southern Idaho. At its largest size, Lake Bonneville was about 325 miles long, 135 miles wide, and had a maximum depth of over 1,000 feet.
8. The Walker Center tower's lights report the weather
Have you ever noticed the Walker Center's tower may be lit up with solid blue lights one day and flashing red lights the next? The sign atop the iconic downtown SLC high rise, which is now over 100 years old, reports the weather by using certain colors for certain weather conditions; blue means clear skies. Flashing blue means cloudy skies. Solid red means rain, and flashing red means snow. True story. If you're within view of the Walker Center, you may as well just delete the Weather app from your iPhone 🙂
9. SLC is the “Gayest City in the Country”
It may surprise you to hear that the city known around the world as the headquarters for the LDS faith is also considered to be the “Gayest City in the Country”, according to a 2012 ranking by The Advocate. Many other articles have ranked SLC as one of the “most gay friendly cities in the country.” In fact, the current Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, is the first openly gay mayor in the city's history.
10. The Great Salt Lake is so salty, you'll float
Yes you can actually float in the Great Salt Lake. You will not sink, because the salt content is so high. There are 4.5 billion tons of salt in the Great Salt Lake. This gives the water a salt density about 10 times more than the ocean. Basically, the Great Salt Lake is 10x saltier than ocean water. The northern side of the lake is twice as salty as the south, peaking at 28% (the Dead Sea is 31%). Bridger Bay Beach on the north end of Antelope Island is perhaps the nicest beach on the entire lake. The beach is two-miles long, 100 yards wide and covered with white oolitic sand.
11. SLC eats more JELL-O per capita than anywhere else in the world
Salt Lake City holds the title for the highest JELL-O consumption per capita, in the world. Jello is literally the Official State Snack of Utah! It's a well known fact that JELL-O is a favorite among Mormon church members. This strange fact has been written about in many national publications like The Atlantic, Slate, and Business Insider. Why do Utahns supposedly love green Jell-o so much? There's no quick or easy answer, but this Slate.com article gives a stab at it if you're interested.
12. Our wide streets were made for oxcart U-turns
The streets throughout downtown Salt Lake City are abnormally wide, but not many people know why. When Mormon pioneer settlers were laying out their plan for the city, they built the roads wide enough to accommodate their oxcarts make a U-turn. How convenient! We still enjoy the wide streets to this day, but it's been a few years since I've driven my oxcart downtown. I usually just stick to Holladay.
13. Salt Lake City has more plastic surgeons per capita than any other city in the U.S as of 2014
Pretty crazy, right? It's true. But since 2014, the population of SLC has exploded and screwed up that ratio. However, in 2017, SLC is still ranked #6 in the country for plastic surgeons per capita.
14. Our street grid system was originally meant for farming
Salt Lake City's streets and addresses are based on a grid system where the Salt Lake Temple is the center of town. The intersection of Main Street and South Temple is the true 0-0 coordinate, and then north, south, east and west coordinates radiating out from there. Although it can be confusing and frustrating to someone unfamiliar with our grid system, they can quickly learn how to navigate it, and it's also a very efficient way of laying out a city. The large size of our blocks is said to be the result of Joseph Smith wanting to make farming easier within each city block.
15. Salt Lake City is the No. 1 Trendiest U.S. City Where You Still Can Afford to Buy a Home
According to a survey by Realtor.com, out of all the booming U.S. cities out there right now, Salt Lake City is the #1 trendy and affordable city in the country. When you look at other thriving cities like Austin, Seattle, Raleigh, Richmond, VA and others, Salt Lake City is definitely one of the most affordable of them all. Combine affordability with accolades like the 2nd Most Hipster Friendly City in the U.S. from MoveHub, and you can see why some many “hipsters” and trendy youngsters (jeez, I almost called them whippersnappers! and I'm only 34!) are moving to Salt Lake City right now. Sure, SLC is much more expensive than it used to be. No debating that. But compare our home prices with those of Denver, Seattle, San Diego, San Fransisco, New York, etc and it's obvious why many are escaping the insanity of the east and west coasts and relocating to our beloved Salt Lake.
16. The biggest manufacturer of rubber chickens in the country, Loftus Novelty, is here in SLC.
Not really sure how I feel about that. But interesting!
17. Salt Lake City is widely considered to be the next Silicon Valley
Just over the southern border of Salt Lake County is a thriving hotbed for tech and innovation. Now, SLC itself is seeing a huge tech boom, but the area in Lehi, right around Thanksgiving Point, has become known as Silicon Slopes and has caught the eye of some of Silicon Valley's most high profile companies. Some cite the young, educated population and above-average # of college graduates who speak a different language. It's been reported recently that Snapchat is building an office in Lehi, Sites like TechCrunch, CNBC, The New Yorker, Entrepreneur.com, and much more have long been praising SLC's entrepreneurial vibe, with some predicting SLC will become the next Silicon Valley. There are many different reasons why so much tech and venture capital is converging on the Salt Lake area, but at this point, no one can deny that massive growth is happening as you're reading this right now.
18. The Eagle Gate Monument over State Street marked the entrance to Brigham Young's property
You've probably driven under it countless times, but did you know the 4,000 lb eagle monument that spans State Street along South Temple was originally made of wood? It was carved from 5 blocks of wood in 1859 and served as a marker to Brigham Young's 50-acre farmland, as well as the entrance to City Creek Canyon. It was a toll gate until 1882 when they turned State Street into a two-lane road. The eagle, with a 20-foot wingspan, was eventually plated in copper around 1900 and is the same Eagle Gate that you see today.
19. SLC is the world headquarters of the LDS Church
Wait, you already knew that. I think everyone knows that. Well just in case you didn't, the world headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah since pioneers settled Salt Lake City in 1847. The 28 story tall Church Office Building, which houses the administrative support staff for the LDS Church throughout the world, is the second tallest building in Salt Lake City. The Wells Fargo Building is 2 feet taller.
20. Spiral Jetty
The Spiral Jetty is a manmade piece of art in the Great Salt Lake, roughly 2.5 hours northwest of Salt Lake City on Rozel Point, 15.5 dirt road miles southwest of the Golden Spike National Historic Site visitor center. It was created in the Great Salt Lake by Robert Smithson in 1970. He used over 6,000 tons of black basalt rocks and earth form a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide that winds counterclockwise off the shore into the water. The Spiral Jetty is only visible when the water level is below about 4195 feet. It was submerged soon after its creation and stayed underwater for 30 years! However, due to drought and lower water levels, it has been most visible since 2002.
Even if you're a lifelong SLC resident, you're hearing about some of these interesting facts about Salt Lake City for the very first time. For example, the rubber chickens deal? Nope, never knew that. Although why would I have ever needed to know that? But I digress.
How many of these interesting facts about Salt Lake City did you already know about? How many did you just learn about for the first time? Join in the conversation and tell us in the comments below 🙂