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Cevan LeSieur: The Avenues

Scaling the sloping north bench of the downtown area, east of the Capitol across City Creek Canyon, is one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Salt Lake City. In fact, when it was created, the Avenues was the first development to diverge from the strict grid-street pattern favored by Brigham Young, opting instead for smaller, more intimate blocks.

This is just one aspect of the area, notes local author Cevan LeSieur in his book The Avenues, which markedly sets it apart from the rest of the city. Through archival photographs and historical documentation, LeSieur paints a singular portrait of the beloved neighborhood full of Tudors, bungalows, Victorians and adobe residencies. He notes that the area’s varied housing styles are due to the many prominent early Utahns who favored the area fashioning homes to their architectural whimsy, as opposed to developers following a cookie-cutter format. LeSieur also uses photographic evidence to show how the once-small neighborhood slowly crept up the mountainside, inviting local businesses, schools, hospitals and parks of its own—even at one point being the first residential suburb to be served by streetcar.

The way that LeSieur follows the growth of the region, it’s hard to overstate how much that foundational deviation from the accepted street standard set the Avenues apart at its inception. The smaller blocks kept the farmers out, and the proximity to downtown’s bustling commerce assured prosperous and urban-oriented homesteaders would seek out its unique charm. Nearly 150 years later, as downtown rebuilds, little has changed in one of its closest neighborhoods. (Jacob Stringer)

Date: Sep 13, 2012
Time: 7 pm
Phone: 801-484-9100
Address: 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 84105
Where: King's English