Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Salt Lake City shares a problem with DC

I say that one actual exceptional thing about Washington, DC is that the entire world mostly defines and interprets the city in terms of its place as the national capital of the United States of America, "leader of the free world," the place with the national monuments and museums, therefore abnegating the experience of the city as a place where people live and have a history that is not solely defined by the "National Experience."

Well, Salt Lake City has that problem too in terms of how most of us who have never been there believe that it must be a pretty staid place, given that it is the "National and World Capital" of the Mormon Church. Since Mormons don't do "bad" things like drink alcoholic beverages or caffeine, smoke, have sex without marriage (not true...), take drugs, etc., shouldn't the city be pretty straight laced?

Not so.

There is sprawl and plenty of it. (Brigham Young was a planner, and he created a grid system. But he made the blocks too big, so it's not necessarily a good place for walking.)
Sprawl Signage in Salt Lake City

But the city is surrounded by mountains. And I wonder if that somehow influences some of the state's more recent sound planning practices?, such as Envision Utah.
Mountains surround Salt Lake City

The sprawl allows for some incredible signage.
Old Snelgrove ice cream factory sign

Bowling sign, Salt Lake City

Signage in Salt Lake City (Master Muffler)

Coachman's Dinner and Pancake House, Salt Lake City
I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of Dee's Restaurant.

Some of it advertises prurient stuff, which must not make the Mormons too happy.
Showgirls billboard, Salt Lake City

You can drink alcohol.
Bar X, Salt Lake City

And do art and graffiti.
Graffiti alley, Downtown Salt Lake City

There are leftover commercial districts where some interesting stuff is going on, from the Sugar House district to an local arts district in downtown.
Fice Clothing boutique, Salt Lake City
Fice clothing boutique.

Ski and snowboard shop, Mill Creek Valley, Salt Lake County
A ski and snowboard shop.

Not my photo. But Suzanne and Lupine went to the store, except it was closed.
SexyModest Boutique, Salt Lake City

There is a strong local business support effort as well and some cool stores including boutiques and art galleries and a great bookstore (Ken Sanders Rare Books).
Local First Utah sticker, Fice Clothing boutique, Salt Lake City

I was in town for a funeral and so familial responsibilities meant I couldn't really get out and explore very much. I'd gladly go back to do so, sooner rather than later.

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