Unseen Alleys | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

Unseen Alleys 

On the Street

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Alleyways are one of the most overlooked parts of a city. Despite very extensive mapping by Salt Lake City's transportation departmen of the 700-plus miles of street and 8,400 street segments in SLC, our alley network seldom registers a mention. But there is roughly 50 miles of alleys scattered through the city.

And I get it—to many, alleyways are just a means to get to some back-end parking for multi-family housing or, at worst, associated with petty criminal behavior. It's easy for them to be out of sight and out of mind. At least, it was until last year, when the city launched a $200,000 pilot program to rejuvenate a select number of alleys, starting with one between Browning and Kensington Avenues, west of 300 East, in the Liberty Wells neighborhood.

Independent of the city's efforts, there are several spots around town where residents have taken it upon themselves to spruce up these neglected access roads and provide a little bit of beautification on their own. Oftentimes, this takes the form of painting murals, such as the planetary piece in the above photo, located off of 7th East Alley, just south of Simpson Avenue (and one of the few alleyways that Google Maps has actually indexed).

But the best example of an alleyway transformation I've come across is on a small stretch between Whitlock and Warnock avenues, just west of Highland Drive. Tucked away from public view in this relatively nondescript Sugar House neighborhood is a public art exhibition that I'd imagine few have seen. A half dozen or so murals—all of which were painted by an artist who goes by Mr. Fancy Fancy—don the exteriors of an assortment of sheds and garages (below).

Although I've been on every street in the city, I was unaware this beautiful stretch of asphalt even existed until someone serendipitously messaged me about it. It just goes to show that when you think you've seen it all, there is always something new out there, waiting to be discovered.

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Bryant Heath

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