The Avenues (Salt Lake City)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Map of the Avenues.

The Avenues is a well-known neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah in the US. It is named after the perfectly grid-like, closely laid out roads called Avenues and Streets. First surveyed in the 1850s, the Avenues became Salt Lake City's first neighborhood.


Layout and geography

The Avenues neighborhood lies on the "benches" of the Wasatch Mountains. The bottom of the Avenues is South Temple Street (1st Avenue is the next street North), and from there the neighborhood is built up onto the lower slopes of the mountains.

The north-south roads in the Avenues sloping up the hillside are lettered from "A" to "U" Street and then "Virginia Street", from west to east. The fairly level east-west roads are numbered 1st to 18th Avenues counting south to north. The rigid grid system breaks down around 13th Avenue, as more recent development farther north has taken a more serpentine bend. The 'major' streets used more for through-traffic, particularly for their connections at South Temple to city arteries, are B, E, I, and Virginia; the 'major' avenues are 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 11th, and 13th.

The Avenues lie just northeast of downtown Salt Lake City, and just east—over a small canyon—from Capitol Hill. The neighborhood to the east of the lower (below 11th) Avenues is known as Federal Heights, and is traditionally thought of as beginning north of South Temple Street and East of Virginia Street. It is sometimes considered a part of the Avenues, though the neighborhood may be considered as generally more affluent than the Avenues. Above Federal Heights is a more recently developed area often called Arlington Hills. Compared to the neighborhoods to the east, the Avenues are in places quite steep as they climb the foothills to the north.

The large Salt Lake City Cemetery occupies a significant portion of the eastern Avenues below 11th Avenue, and abuts Lindsey Gardens (park) and the 11th Avenue Park.

The "lower Avenues" (below 11th or 13th) is a neighborhood of generally smaller, older houses, and is popular with younger homeowners looking for 'fixer-uppers'; it is also especially popular due to its proximity to downtown, the large and remote Memory Grove/City Creek Canyon recreation area to the West, the University of Utah to the East/Southeast, and the airport, as well as low traffic and minimal commercial development. The only significant non-residential developments are a supermarket, a few surrounding businesses, and the LDS Hospital complex.

Compared to much of Salt Lake City, the lower Avenues neighborhood is generally considered a more progressive, younger, less-Mormon, and sometimes "artsy" area. Many University of Utah staff, faculty, and students live there due to the easy commute and relative affordability.


The Avenues are the first section of Salt Lake City to deviate from the original ten acre (40,000 m²) block grid pattern. Blocks were one half the dimension of the original grid, making them 2.5 acres (10,000 m²). Streets and sidewalks were narrower too, meaning that the Avenues' streets match poorly to the original blocks at the base of the neighborhood along 1st Avenue (South Temple Street.) The first lots were surveyed in the early 1850s, but the Avenues' deviant platting violated the law. The territorial legislature had to pass a new survey ordinance for the Avenues, which they did in 1860.

Originally, all of the streets were named. North-south streets were named for trees, and east-west streets had names like "Fruit," "Garden," "Bluff," and "Wall" (for what are now 2nd through 5th avenue respectively.) By 1885 the north-south streets gained their current alphabetical designations (A Street through V Street, although V was turned into Virginia Street.) However, the east-west streets were still known as Streets. They were not retitled into Avenues until 1907. Up until that time, the area was known as "the dry bench" because it lacked water.

Until 1884, residents in the northeastern Avenues had to haul water for everyday use. Protests prompted the city to install pipelines along 6th Avenue, but those living in the higher Avenues would be without water until 1908.

In spite of water problems, the Avenues proved to be an attractive residential neighborhood. In the southwest Avenues, artisans could live very close to downtown. In the east Avenues, "Butcherville" sprang up after slaughterhouses relocated to the east side in 1860.

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Cathedral of the Madeline on the perimeter of the Avenues in 1908. Note electric trolley car

Transportation was a major draw for settlement in the Avenues. The Salt Lake Railway Company offered mule and horse-drawn trolley rides in the Avenues by 1872, and the trolleys became electric in 1889. Salt Lake Rapid Transit Company incorporated in 1890 and the companies competed fiercely until merging in 1903. The trolley system expanded to other parts of the city as the Utah Light and Traction Company, but rail lines were denser in the Avenues than any other part of the city save downtown. The tracks were removed in the 1940s after National City Lines acquired (and dismantled) the trolley lines.

At the turn of the century, the neighborhood was a predominantly middle- and upper-middle class trolley suburb, and home to many professionals. Developers, including future LDS Church President Heber J. Grant promoted Avenues home ownership.

With the rise of other, more affluent neighborhoods like Federal Heights, the Avenues became less popular. By the 1960s, deterioration was evident as landlords often found it economically advantageous to let properties go neglected. Most homes, built between about 1880 and 1920, showed their age, and the community dealt with increasing problems with transients. In response to these problems, residents formed the Greater Avenues Community Council (GACC) to help revitalize and restore livability to the neighborhood.


  • Haglund, Karl T. & Notarianni, Philip F. (1980). The Avenues of Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society. ISBN 0-913738-31-X

External links

Template:Salt Lake City


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