Federal Heights & the University
With its proximity to the University of Utah campus, it comes as no surprise that the majority of sidewalk traffic is comprised of retired professors and university employees. If you stop any tenured neighbor, you'll soon realize that the grandeur of living so close to the exceptionally thriving college campus made up of more than 31,000 enrolled students soon wears off. The contentious relationships between homeowners who live near campus and the University's Greek organizations have been documented in the news. In the past decade or so, those relationships have been mending, according to retired professor Gene Fitzgerald, whose Prairie-style bungalow abuts the campus. "There are some people who have been here a long time, some just moved in, but everyone really gets along very well," he said. In addition to exploring a 1,600-acre hillside campus, look for reminders of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The university hosted the Olympic Village as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The Olympic Cauldron Park, adjacent to Rice-Eccles Stadium, includes the distinctive Hoberman Arch.
Federal Heights: East of Virginia Street to the University of Utah; south of 100 South to Federal Heights Drive
Harvard-Yale & Yalecrest
No city is complete without its very own Ivy League area. And, as expected, residents (after chatting up the weather over a light-bodied Beaujolais) will likely pay tribute to their impeccable tree line. As one of the more sought-after areas in Salt Lake City, expect home prices to be higher than counterparts on the west side. This neighborhood is highly desirable for good reason: Not only are the streets quiet and quaint, but there are well-kept parks and great schools. Harvard-Yale has lately been the battleground for the private-property kings/McMansion developers versus homeowners fighting to maintain the historic look and feel of the neighborhood. Roger Little of the local community council says, "There's a really strong desire for outreach and inclusion. People love to be neighbors in this neighborhood. … There is lots of activity across fences and discussions in [Miller Park, located at 1500 East and Bonneview Drive] because parks provide a place for people to communicate." For this neighborhood, parks also prove to be a place of gathering—look for block parties in the summer.
Yalecrest: East of 1300 East to 1500 East; south of Sunnyside Avenue (800 South) to 1300 South
9th & 9th
Salt Lake City's very own mini-city is tight-knit, up-and-coming and a slew of other hyphenated adjectives describing its not-quite-hipster nature. Expect to see the city's 20- and 30-somethings and their beautifully groomed pets sipping lattes and shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques. Technically, the intersection is located in the small neighborhood called East Liberty Park, but "9th & 9th" is catchy, right? Thirty years ago, locals described this neighborhood as "scrappy and dangerous." Now, the thriving and highly desirable 900 East and 900 South area serves as a NeighborWorks success story. In fact, the hyper-focus on promoting local businesses and assembling a lively community has inspired a counterpart on the west side: 900 West and 900 South. If you're around for the street festival, have a ball, but consider a quick walk through the surrounding streets. Take in the subtle competitive nature of each garden against the one adjacent, but most of all, enjoy the serendipitous feeling that everything seems to have fallen in exactly the right place.
9th & 9th: East of 800 East to 1100 East; south of 800 South to 1300 South
Foothill Drive, Wasatch Hollows, Bonneville & East Bench
The Well-Trodden Hills might be a more fitting description of these neighborhoods. Here, among the exotic animals in Utah's Hogle Zoo, This Is the Place Heritage Park, fabulous trails (some reaching as far as Emigration Canyon), the newly revamped Natural History Museum of Utah and the beloved Red Butte Garden, you'll find, as many Foothillians say, "culture with altitude."
Is exclusivity your favorite word? It might be if you lived here. The valley views from the East Bench are breathtaking to be sure, but you might not have many places to take them in. Those damned gates surrounding various mansion-filled neighborhoods make sure of that.
Foothill and East Bench: East of 1300 East to city limits; south of 500 South to Interstate 89
15th & 15th
Another hotspot neighborhood, 15th & 15th weaves together an independent bookstore, ethnic eateries, an art gallery and several fab boutiques. You'll find nearby blocks dripping with all that is quaint in the world. The eateries and shops define much of the area and seem to have had plenty of influence on the neighborhood itself. "We have what city planners want for every neighborhood," says District 5 Councilwoman Jill Remington Love, "open space, pocket parks, incredible local businesses, but most of all, great people who want to build community and look for solutions."
15th & 15th: 1500 East between Kensington Avenue (1530 South) and Emerson Avenue (1490 South)
In recent memory, downtown has been a vacant part of town, home to nomads and their animal pals. But changes are brewing. Over the past two years, downtown Salt Lake City has seen a large increase in new businesses and activity. Oh, sure, you'll find hipsters who label themselves hipsters with a sprinkling of hotshot professionals but, for the most part, residents living downtown are looking to bring back the urbanity that SL,UT once had.
And, with plans for the expensive City Creek Creek to open in 2012, now seems to be the time for movement. Major retailers and delicious eateries will occupy the three blocks comprising City Creek—all of which will be connected by pedestrian-friendly walkways and residential condominiums. Christian Harrison, chairman of the Downtown Community Council, describes a certain hopeful vibe in the longtime residents and also those just moving in. "Now, most of the social interactions residents have are through events: friends at a gallery stroll, or neighbors at the farmers market. It's just really great to have a community to look forward to."
Downtown: West of State Street to 300 West; north of South Temple to 700 South
Central City West, Pioneer Park, The Gateway
Many longtime residents once associated this area with homelessness and suspicious activity, but with the storefront and residential developments spurred by TRAX and FrontRunner developments, Central City West, along with The Gateway shopping district, are fast becoming more chic urban areas. Close to downtown businesses and with lower housing costs, many who live here are able to walk to work. The area is anchored by EnergySolutions Arena, home to the Utah Jazz NBA team.
Pioneer Park, a historic park that once provided camping space for the city's arriving pioneers, is overcoming a modern-day image problem due to its proximity to homeless shelters. Thanks to an effort by city officials and downtown organizations, the park now hosts multiple community gatherings, including the fabulous Downtown Farmers Market and the summer's free Twilight Concert Series, bringing people from all over the Salt Lake Valley. Even the city's Occupy Movement first took root in Pioneer Park, illustrating the heartfelt connection between social movement and Pioneer Park.
Central City West: West of 300 West to Interstate 15; north of South Temple to 1300 South
Just west of 300 West and near North Temple you'll find Fairpark—a community first perceived split by the freeway, but now, after working closely with NeighborWorks, building solidarity among residents. This merging of sections is visible in an art form beneath the overpass at 300 North and Interstate 15; "Bridges Over Barriers" is one of the nicest murals in the city. Community Council member Gordon Storrs agrees, saying, "We want to strengthen our ability to be a community through neighbor-to-neighbor caring. We're as good as anywhere else now, but I think we can do better." Despite some of the negative effects of the construction of the new TRAX line (to the airport—we're all counting down until 2013), businesses like the mainstays Red Iguana and Mestizo Coffeehouse are hanging on. Almost all local business owners and residents agree that once this TRAX line is open, it is sure to bring more foot traffic along with the planned light-rail schedule.
Fairpark: West of 500 West to 1460 West; north of North Temple to 600 North
Central City & Liberty Wells
West of the commercial and colloquial center of Sugar House is lively Liberty Wells and the "Sugar Hood." With less of the hustle and bustle of Sugar House, neighbors here seem to just get along. They range from first-time homeowners to old timers, but the differences in age don't hinder the friendly atmosphere. One thing they all agree on is how great it is to be within a stone's throw of Liberty Park. Second in size to Sugar House Park, Liberty has a vast array of amenities including a reinforced running and biking trail, tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, playgrounds, pavilions, an amusement park, boating and the beloved Tracy Aviary. And nearby Trolley Square is home to shopping and a giant Whole Foods.
Central City & Liberty Wells: East of State Street to 700 East; south of South Temple to 2100 South
The sugar mill after which the neighborhood was named never materialized, but Sugar House remains one of Salt Lake City's sweetest communities. Nestled in the armpits of the Interstate 80 corridor, Sugar House has one of the largest and loudest community councils in Salt Lake City. With great nightlife, free parking, local shops and big-box stores, numerous festivals and tasty eats, there's a lot to talk about. It's a big area, too. Neighbors here range from young to old, rich to poor, college students, ski bums and exercising geeks. The character of the neighborhood is enhanced by Salt Lake City's renowned private liberal-arts Westminster College. And, coming soon is a $55 million Sugar House Street Car that will link Highland Drive and other residential communities to the main TRAX line.
Many of the residents here pride themselves on Sugar House's historical significance. The state's first penitentiary, for instance, was located where the park and Highland High School now stand. Also, Sugar House Park is always buzzing with activity and, as the city's largest park, serves as a treasured landmark for residents. Tradition seems to be valued here—after budget cuts left this park fireworks-less, money was donated to keep the program going and lighting up the skies on the Fourth of July.
Sugar House: East of 700 East to Foothill Drive; north of 1700 South to city limits
This guide highlights the distinctive hoods of Salt Lake City proper. Bear in mind that south of Salt Lake City are another 14 cities, one town and six townships that comprise the rest of Salt Lake County. The million-plus residents of the county and the more than 2.5 million who live along the Wasatch Front have their own reasons for visiting Salt Lake City, if only to take in a Jazz game downtown, see a world-class ballet, eat a tasty Crown Burger, or a visit the elephants at the zoo.