Street Smarts

Quirky historical icons in and around downtown SLC

By Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin

Downtown Salt Lake City is filled with, even built around, reminders of the Latter-day Saint pioneers who first arrived in the valley on July 24, 1847: The Salt Lake Temple. The Tabernacle. The Lion House. The Beehive House. The statue of Brigham Young at the intersection of Main and South Temple.

While these obvious reminders draw millions of visitors per year, the area’s home to several less visible reminders of pioneer history. Here’s a walking (or jogging, or biking, or riding a electric scooter) tour for locals that may take their knowledge beyond the state-mandated 4th and 7th grade Utah history classes. There’s a bonus at the end when you grab a treat at a thoroughly modern restaurant.

Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

Southeast corner of Temple Square, just outside the wall
10 South Temple, SLC,

The number on whatever building you inhabit was determined on Aug. 3, 1847, just days after Brigham Young announced, “This is the place.” He directed Orson Pratt to set a marker at what is now the southeast corner of Temple Square. Today, a small pillar and plaque mark the spot. If you want to get technical, the exact location is 40 degrees 46 minutes 04 seconds north latitude, and 111 degrees 54 minutes 00 seconds west longitude, while sitting at 4,327.27 feet above sea level. As you’ve no doubt explained to visitors and newcomers, every address on the grid system in the Salt Lake Valley begins at this point.

The Nauvoo Bell

West gate of Temple Square, behind Assembly Hall
10 South Temple, SLC,

Even if you have walked around Temple Square numerous times, you may not be aware of this monument since it’s tucked in an out-of-the-way spot. Cast in Great Britain, the bell originally hung in the Mormon temple in Nauvoo, Ill. The pioneers rescued it after being driven out of town. They hauled it cross-country and rang it while on the trail to let everybody know when it was time to get up and continue the trek. It strikes a perfect pitch C note. In 2019, Utahns may recognize it as the sound used to mark the top of every hour on KSL Radio.

Pioneer Log Cabin

Between the Family History Library and Church History Museum on the west side of West Temple, across the street from Temple Square.
45 W. South Temple, SLC, 801-319-2450,

When the pioneers arrived in the summer of 1847, they didn’t have long to get ready for their first snowy Utah winter. Their ingenuity, organization and work ethic are all on display in the 15-by-20-foot log home that was the residence of Osmyn, Mary and Amos Deuel from the fall of 1847 through the spring of 1848. It’s even set up so you can take a peek inside.

Young Family Memorial Cemetery

140 E. First Ave., SLC, 801-240-2534

Located behind the aptly named Brigham Apartments, this small park is a peaceful oasis amid the downtown bustle that doesn’t draw crowds. It’s the perfect place to take a quiet break. Besides the grave of Brigham Young, it’s the final resting place of Eliza R. Snow and members of the Young family. There is also a monument to the 6,000 LDS pioneers who died during the trek West. Check out their Facebook page for photos and details about the graves.

Regent Street

49 East between 100 and 200 South, SLC,

As a last stop, you can skip back and forth between the 19th and 21st centuries in the area behind the Eccles Theater that includes Regent Street, the Regent Walk alleyway, and McCarthey Plaza. Known as Block 70 in the initial layout of the city, it has been recently redeveloped from what used to be the loading docks for the local daily newspapers. The formerly off-the-beaten-path thoroughfare is now a primary connector between Gallivan Center to the south and City Creek Center to the north—now in the heart of downtown’s main entertainment district.

Look down, and you’ll find plaques that tell what the street was like through the years, the observations of Mark Twain after spending two days here in 1861 and a quote from Brigham Young, listed as, “An original settler of Block 70,” stating, “We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold.”

Also, in the late 1800s, the street was known for its “ladies of the night,” who plied their trade from Regent Street addresses.

Regent Street is now home to a cluster of eateries, including Fireside on Regent (126 S. Regent St., SLC, 801-359-4011,, which serves up wood-fired pizzas while Pretty Bird Chicken (146 S. Regent St., SLC, always seems to have a line of customers out the door hungry to try hot (spicy) chicken along with coleslaw and pickles. Maize Homestyle Tacos (135 S. Regent St., SLC, 801-471-5612, is the latest entry on Regent, as the popular food truck takes up a brick-and-mortar location. Honest Eatery (135 S. Regent St., Suite B, SLC, 801-532-4754, has authentic Brazilian Acai bowls and a variety of gourmet toasts. Wherever you dine, save room to hit Last Course Dessert Studio (115 S. Regent St., SLC, 801-410-4708, and try smoked maple bacon ice cream or Foster’s banana churros.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *