Downtown SLC South

Utah, Salt Lake City Guide (A): Downtown SLC South

Spread across a wide swath of city south of downtown, this area offers a number of interesting sites - parks, art centers, historical symbols and modern achievements. This tour will explore a cross-section of the city's culture, starting with colorful birds and finishing with a beautiful and historic train station near downtown.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Downtown SLC South
Guide Location: USA » Salt Lake City
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Tracy Aviary   Liberty Park   Salt Lake City Main Library   City & County Building   Gallivan Center   Walker Center   Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center   Squatter's Pub Brewery   SLC Sgt Pepper Mural   Rio Grande Depot  
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up in Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping, and sightseeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
1
Tracy Aviary

1) Tracy Aviary

Occupying eight acres on the southwest corner of Liberty Park, Tracy Aviary is home to a wonderful array of birds from all over the world. The aviary opened to the public in 1938, thanks to a donation of his private bird collection by Salt Lake banker Russell Lord Tracy. Currently housing about 400 birds representing about 135 species (many of which are rare or endangered), exhibits include South American birds in Destination Argentina and Amazon Adventure – as well as collections of beautiful eagles and other birds of North America. A schedule of shows, lectures, and feedings are open for public participation throughout the day, as well.
2
Liberty Park

2) Liberty Park

This massive 80-acre park south of downtown is the second largest in the city. Housing Tracy Aviary on its southwest corner, the rest of the park features a large pond with two islands, a swimming pool, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, a jogging path, picnic sites, children’s play areas, horseshoe pits, a greenhouse, and seasonal amusement park rides. Known by a number of different names in pioneer days – Forest Park, Mill Park, and Locust Patch – the property was owned by Brigham Young from 1860 until it was sold to the city in 1881, and renamed Liberty Park in 1882. Home to the original city zoo, Liberty Park today also houses the Chase Home Museum of Folk Arts in one of the historic buildings onsite.
3
Salt Lake City Main Library

3) Salt Lake City Main Library

Public libraries in Salt Lake City began in 1872, organized by Mormon women as a reading room in the First National Bank Building. The evolution of the main library took on a number of forms and locations, culminating in the stylish new location opening to the public in 2003. The 240,000 square foot curved glass structure has won numerous awards and praise for its architectural aesthetic, and the library circulates about 4 million items each year to a cardholder base of about 140,000 people. The unique building also contains a massive foyer, a rooftop garden, an art gallery, and an array of onsite shops.
Image by Bobjgalindo under Creative Commons License.
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City & County Building

4) City & County Building

This grand administrative building across from the city’s main library was constructed by the freemasons and opened in 1894. Interestingly, the building was originally a symbol of the non-Mormon minority’s effort at some control over local governance, and the architecture was designed to rival that of the Mormon temple. Originally bid for a construction cost of about $378,000 the project was massively over budget – coming in at a final cost of around $900,000. The massive sandstone building has five floors and over 100 rooms, halls lined in onyx, an enormous 256-foot-tall clock tower, and elaborate carvings by French sculptor Oswald Lendi, as well as Walter Baird.
Image by Daderot under Creative Commons License.
5
Gallivan Center

5) Gallivan Center

Opened in 1993 and undergoing a 2011 renovation, the Gallivan Center is a public plaza in the heart of downtown. Named for the Utah media mogul John W. Gallivan, the center houses a number of fun features for public use – including an amphitheater (hosting the Utah Symphony and other acts), an ice-skating rink, a giant chessboard, art projects and an aviary. A series of summertime events highlight the center’s use – with a selection of movies and music festivals, including a lunchtime music series and the Folk & Bluegrass Festival. The plaza is also available for rental for private events – such as weddings and receptions and birthday parties.
Image by Cool Hand Luke under Creative Commons License.
6
Walker Center

6) Walker Center

Formerly known as the Walker Bank Building, this 16-story skyscraper was the tallest between Chicago and San Francisco when it opened in 1912. It was designed by the St. Louis architecture firm Eames and Young. The basement originally housed the bank vault and shops, the first floor was the bank, and the upper floors business offices. The building was purchased and renovated in 2005 by private investors and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. The building’s highlight is the 64-foot weather tower atop the roof. Solid blue lights mean clear skies, flashing blue lights mean cloudy skies, red means rain, and flashing red means snow.
Image by Edgar Zuniga Jr. under Creative Commons License.
7
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center

7) Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center

Opened in 1997, this theater hosts a number of diverse events – including several dance groups, the Plan-B Theater Company, the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, and the Sundance Film Festival. Part of a three-venue Center for the Arts (which also includes Abravanel Hall and Capitol Theater), the Rose Wagner complex itself contains three distinct theaters (the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the Jeanne Wagner Theater, and the Black Box Theater), a rotating art gallery, and permanent art installations. Outside of the center is a public art project called “Flying Objects”, which over several years has showcased a number of whimsical sculptures by local artists.
8
Squatter's Pub Brewery

8) Squatter's Pub Brewery

While one’s preconception of Salt Lake City won’t likely include microbreweries, this popular watering hole serves up some of the finest locally brewed beers in the area. Originally founded on a location on West Broadway in 1989, the beer culture has seen a number of changes in Utah state law over the past couple of decades – becoming more liberal in time for the influx of tourist for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Squatter’s Pub is committed to healthy ingredients and environmental sustainability, including the use of BlueSky wind power to reduce its carbon footprint. With three locations around town, as well as a microbrewery, Squatter’s Pub is a fixture in the city’s growing bar scene.
9
SLC Sgt Pepper Mural

9) SLC Sgt Pepper Mural

Far away from Liverpool, England, the pop-culture phenomenon of the Beatles reaches all the way to Salt Lake City in this outdoor mural depicting the classic “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover. Known as the “SLC Pepper Mural”, this artistic reinterpretation of the original was overseen by Jann Haworth, co-designer of the original album cover, and made from stencil graffiti by Spy Hop Productions, Global Artways/Youth City, and other local artists. With work beginning in 2004, the mural occupies a space of approximately 50 feet by 30 feet, with the Beatles jackets as metal cutouts – allowing the visitor to place their head and hands in holes to become part of the art for souvenir photos.
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Rio Grande Depot

10) Rio Grande Depot

This historic train station opened in 1911 at a construction cost of $750,000, to rival the ornate Union Pacific Railroad Depot to the north, and serve as a transportation gateway to a booming city. While train travel is no longer en vogue in the United States, Utah purchased the building for $1 in 1977, and the Rio Grande Depot survives today as home to the Utah History Research Center. Aside from the research facility, the center houses a bookstore, gift shop, and a number of interesting museum exhibit pieces. A number of lectures and workshops are also available focusing upon Utah’s unique history.

To end this tour, walk four blocks east and three blocks north to the area of Temple Square, where bus routes depart for areas throughout the city.