History and Trivia
Located in the center of the expansive West, Salt Lake City is a crossroads. Northern Utah was the terminus for the Mormon migration in the mid-nineteenth century and then spawned numerous settlements throughout the inter-mountain West. Northern Utah also is where the Union and Central Pacific railroad met in 1869 to complete the country’s first transcontinental railroad.
Today Salt Lake City and the surrounding metropolis, commonly referred to as the Wasatch Front, is home for more than a million persons. It remains a crossroads—the junction of north-south I-15 and east-west I-80 traffic corridors. The area remains a route for rail shipment across the country and Salt Lake City serves as a major hub for Delta Airlines.
At approximately 4600 feet above sea level, the area is not quite as high as Denver but almost. And the climate is dry. There are definite seasons and neither its hottest nor coldest weather is as insufferable as in humid climes. Summertime temperatures can reach 100 and wintertime lows can reach 0 degrees, but these are extremes that don’t occur often or even every year.
Utah is known for its remarkable national parks, for the Utah Jazz, and for outstanding outdoor activity. Salt Lake City successfully hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. Many well- known ski resorts are nestled in mountains east of the city. Skiing and snowboarding are a big draw in the winter. A person could stay in Salt Lake City and ski at a different resort every day for a week or more. The canyons and mountains are well used in the summertime too when hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing are popular.
Though well above sea-level, the Great Salt Lake has no drainage. Like the Dead Sea, it’s saturated with the salt and minerals that remain after runoff from the mountains evaporates. Miles and miles of surrounding “salt flats” have been used for repeatedly establishing and breaking the world land speed record.
Safety and the Venue
Salt Lake City is clean, friendly and as safe as any U.S. city these days, probably safer. The area east of the city, north or south is residential, medical or university. The city is organized on a grid of blocks labeled with coordinates: north, south, east or west of a central point downtown. One can always find addresses in Salt Lake by their coordinates even without GPS. The blocks are long and the main grid streets generally are wide.
Approximately fifty percent of the area’s population is Mormon. Mormons typically do not smoke and do not drink alcohol, but they do dance. They are family-oriented, tend to marry, typically have larger families than the national average, and have a keen interest in genealogy. Salt Lake City is the world headquarters for the Mormon church and its genealogical library.
All Pioneer Encuentro activity occurs at “The Clubhouse”—historically the Ladies’ Literary Club, located at 850 East South Temple Street (100 South.) Though not designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the structure manifests many elements of his “Prairie School” architectural style popular at the time. Members of the Ladies’ Literary Club were “society women” of the era. They traveled; they knew about international trends, Parisian style and pop culture. They brought Argentine tango to the city. Public records indicate that tango was danced at the Ladies’ Literary Club as early as 1914-15, shortly after the structure was built. It’s a privilege to be able to dance tango again in a space where we know it was danced more than century earlier.
The Clubhouse, at 850 E South Temple Street, midway between downtown Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, is within walking distance of both. While there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity, there are many hotels in and around the downtown area. In addition, there are affordable Airbnb properties all around in the area. Many guests last year left favorable feedback regarding the Airbnb property they rented or shared for the event. See https://www.airbnb.com/
Development along the Wasatch Front is constrained by the mountains and mostly is oriented north and south. This facilitates public transportation. A light rail system, UTA-TRAX, serves the airport, downtown, and the University. The University/Medical Center (Red) line runs east from the downtown along 400 South (street.) There is a stop at 900 East, which is four blocks south of the Clubhouse (venue) at 850 E. South Temple (street.) The metropolis also has a commuter rail system, UTA-FrontRunner, that extends almost a hundred miles from Ogden in the north to Provo in the south.
There also are buses and taxis and, of course, there is ubiquitous rideshare (Uber and Lyft.) Currently the area seems to have more Uber than Lyft drivers though this can change depending on the day and time. Local dancers with cars also may be able to help return guests to their accommodations after milongas.
As was typical of buildings at that time, The Clubhouse, has limited parking. Parking is available on the street or around the corner to east behind the Ear Nose and Throat Center at 22 South 900 East after clinic hours. There is a gate at the west of this clinic parking lot that affords access to a walkway alongside the Clubhouse.
There are many restaurants in and around downtown Salt Lake City. Information about their locations, cuisine, hours and affordability easily can be found with your smart phone using apps designed for this purpose. Below are a few that we’ve tried and recommend (in alphabetical order.)
Current (seafood and oyster bar)
279 E Broadway (300 S) SLC
Eva’s Boulangerie Bakery (Breakfast Café)
155 S Main Street, SLC
Gourmandise Café (breakfast, lunch and dinner – best dessert counter)
250 S 300 E, SLC
Red Iguana (Mexican)
736 W North Temple (100 N) SLC
Salt Lake Roasting Company (tea and coffee house)
820 E 400 S, SLC
Settebello (Pizza Napoletana-thin crust, wood-fired)
260 S 200 W, SLC
Squatters (local brew pub)
147 W Broadway (300 S) SLC
Valter’s Osteria (Italian Oyster House)
173 W Broadway (300 S) SLC
Zest (vegetarian restaurant and juice bar – plant-based and gluten free)
275 S 200 W, SLC
Some of you may be staying at a nearby Airbnb with full kitchen facilities. If you want to make your own meals or snacks there are quality grocers in the area.
Harmons (local grocer)
135 E 100 S, SLC
634 E 400 S, SLC
Whole Foods (at Trolley Square)
544 S 700 E, SLC
Natural Grocers (natural & organic groceries)
645 East 400 South A, SLC
Points of Interest
City Creek Center (upscale downtown mall/shopping)
Nearby Mountains and Ski Resorts (skiing, hiking and mountain biking)
Little Cottonwood Canyon
Snowbird (ride the tram) www.snowbird.com
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Utah’s Natural Wonders