West Side Stories
A Blog Series about the History of Salt Lake's West Side
The Utah Department of Heritage and Arts introduces Salt Lake West Side Stores, which is a blog series about the history of Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park neighborhood. Plan to spend roughly fifteen minutes per post reading content, studying historic images, and suggested readings. Several of the posts also include an interactive activity that encourages you to explore the different topics more in depth.
If you are new to Salt Lake Valley, reading this serial blog will give you valuable insight into the roots of Salt Lake City. If you’re a longtime Utahn, or from a multi-generational Utah family, you’re likely to learn something you did not already know. You are welcome to read the posts all at once, or you can follow along as the we will highlight a different post each week.
Salt Lake's West side Stories offers a comprehensive view into the history of Utah. By reading this blog series, you will gain a knowledge of Salt Lake’s most diverse and unique neighborhoods and peoples.
Read each post to discover the answers to the following questions:
- Who were the original inhabitants of the Salt Lake Valley?
- How did hundreds of mice torment the Mormon pioneers every night?
- Why did the LDS Church’s Relief Society build the first women-centered and women-controlled store in Utah just one block southeast from the city’s first railroad depot?
- How did the poorest neighborhood in Salt Lake City play a role in Utah's road to statehood?
- When was Salt Lake City considered one of America's dirtiest cities? When did it lose that title?
- How did a young man from Salt Lake City, who once couriered sandwiches to prostitutes, grow up to fund one of Utah’s most revered performing art centers?
- Where did the Green Book tell African American travelers to stay in Salt Lake City?
- How did the Pioneer Park neighborhood become the unofficial international section of Salt Lake City?
The Back Story
There are many people and organizations that made helped to make this history of Salt Lake's west side possible. We want to take some time to thank those individuals and organizations who helped us make this blog a reality.
First, if there are any mistakes in Salt Lake West Side Stories, they are mine alone. There were many individuals who checked the content and worked to eliminate typos and grammatical errors. I want to offer a special thanks to all of those individuals and organizations that contributed to the contents of the blog.
Holding to good public history practice, the first step in producing a serial history or blog such as this one, involves consulting with and including as many historical communities as possible, whose stories you want to include. To this end, my co-project leader Vikram Ravi (former staffer from the Pioneer Park Coalition), proposed that we seek out and invite as many civic minded, history loving people (story collectors, readers, and personal eye witnesses) as possible, to join us.
We are grateful for the expertise, support, and guidance offered by scholars and community members. We dedicate this project to all of the people who once lived or worked on the west side of Salt Lake City.
There are many people who helped to make Salt Lake West Side Stories possible. We want to thank Vikam Ravi, Adam Vaughn, and the Pioneer Park Coalition History Committee for their willingness to give of their time and advice free of charge.
Cassandra Clark served as the final editor, constant contributor, and in her official capacity, as Public History Content Coordinator for the Department of Heritage & Arts. Janet Seegmiller and Aaron West of the Historic sites Division of the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also read and carefully edited this serial history. Jenny Lund, director of the LDS Church History Department’s Historic Sites Division offered Janet and Aaron, as contributors to this project. Her files on Pioneer Park kick started this whole project. Western and Utah historian Will Bagley offered a careful reading at a pivotal moment.
Social historian and former director of the Utah Division of State History Phil Notarianni, read an early draft and contributed vital primary sources to the project. Railroad historian Don Strack offered his expertise for the railroad-related posts and photo captions. Katherine Kitterman advised me on much of the LDS women’s history aspects of this story. Records manager for the Antiquities Section of the Utah Division of State History Deb Miller created the GIS maps. John Sillito, Don Gale, Lorraine Crouse, Chuck Salazar, Babs Delay, Val Parish, Michael Homer, and Dr. Greg Thompson, provided essential insights to the project. Historian Jennifer Macias helped us with the post pertaining to Latinos and the West Side. Utah State Historical Society reference librarians Doug Misner and Greg Woltz offered their ideas as well. Daniel Cureton from the Salt Lake County Archive scoured the Salt Lake County tax records for images taken by tax workers in the 1930s and 1940s. Last but not least, Valarie Jacobsen, now a reference librarian in the Utah History Research Center, served as a research assistant early in this project.
Marketing director Sarina Ehrgott designed the WordPress layout and Cassandra Clark built the series in WordPress. I also want to extend my gratitude to Jill Remington Love, Executive Director of the Department of Heritage & Arts, who invited me to work alongside the Pioneer Park Coalition. Finally, I want to thank my wife Virlie Vincent Westwood. Virlie often watched me stared off into the distance (or at a screen), while I thought constantly about this project, when I should have been doing so many other things.
Senior Public Historian
Utah Department of Heritage & Arts
Pioneer Park Coalition Committee
Pioneer Park Coalition Committee
Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Utah
Lorriane M. Crouse
Multimedia Curator, J. Willard Marriott Library
Archivist, Retired, Church History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Former Director, Salt Lake City Public Services Department
Managing Partner, Suitter Axland, PLLC, Honorary Italian Consul, Salt Lake City
Assistant Minority Whip, Utah State Senate
Vice Chair, Pioneer Park Coalition Board
Director of History, Better Days 2020
Public Relations Consultant,
J. Willard Marriott Library
Director, Church Historic Sites,
Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Citizen Member, Pioneer Park Coalition Board
Professor Emeritus, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Utah
Former Director, Utah Division of State History
Architect, MJSA Architecture and Interior Design
Museum Services Manager, Utah Division of Arts & Museums
Chapter President, Salt Lake Pioneer Chapter, Sons of Utah Pioneers
Principal Architect, Retired, CRSA Architects and Planners, Fellow, American Institute of Architects
Financial Advisor, Ameriprise
Board Of Trustees, Chicano Cholarship Foundation, University of Utah
Cirbie Sangroniz Padjen
Basque Club of Utah
President, International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers
Retired, Director, Utah Division of Indian Affairs
Executive Assistant, Utah Division of Indian Affairs
Co-Committee Chair, Operating Manager, Pioneer Park Coalition
Senior Public Historian, Utah Department of Heritage and Arts