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On July 24, 1847 143 men, three women and two children founded Salt Lake City on the eastern shore of Great Salt Lake. Mormon pioneers seeking to escape religious persecution, these were the first people of European descent to permanently settle in the area now known as Utah. On that morning, Brigham Young, who was leading the group west after the death of church-founder Joseph Smith, famously said "This is the right place" referring to a vision, he claims, of where he was to lead the Mormons to settle.
Salt Lake City has now grown to be not only the capital, but also the state's largest city. The city itself is laid out in a grid system with most streets running precisely north-south or east-west. The origin of the grid is the south-east corner of Temple Square, the location of the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS"). Street addresses are coordinates within the grid system, and one might speak of the intersection of 700 East and 3300 South, for instance. (A street block is commonly 100 units long, 1/8 of a mile). For more information, go to http://members.aol.com/utahhwyp/strtname.htm .
The city is located in a large valley, the Salt Lake Valley, separated by the Wasatch Mountains[?] to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains[?] to the west. Like most of the cities stretching north and south of Salt Lake City (See Ogden and Provo), it lies at the base of the Wasatch Mountains which in some places rise impressively 6,000 feet above the valley floor. Winter snow-skiing destinations such as Alta, Snowbird and other ski resorts can be reached in less than a half-hour drive from some places in the metro. The proximity of the ski resorts adds to the Utah boast of the "best snow on earth".
Winter weather is not as harsh as Cheyenne, Wyoming or Denver, Colorado because of the moderating effect of the Great Salt Lake to the northwest of the city. Temperatures seldom fall below 0°F/-18°C for any length of time. Summers are likewise moderated somewhat by the lake, but also by the city's elevation of approximately 4,400 feet. Days over 100°F/38°C occur on average 8 times per year, but such days are not terribly uncomfortable due to generally low humidity in arguably the most arid area of the country. Snowfall is frequent from December through March, but it is unusual for any one storm to accumulate more than 12 inches/30 cm on the valley floor. Bench locations near the mountains often receive substantially more. Rain in summer is sporadic. The summer monsoons rising from Mexico and Arizona begin affecting the region by mid July and continue through September, occasionally bringing intense thunderstorm activity.
Salt Lake City's downtown core houses an impressive collection of old and new structures with several twenty-plus story steel and glass towers adjacent to late nineteeth century brick and mortar. The tallest building in the city is the LDS Church Office Tower[?], a 26-story New International style structure housing the major offices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other important buildings are the Delta Center[?], Wells Fargo Center[?], One Utah Center[?], and the Salt Lake LDS Temple[?].
Salt Lake City was the host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 285.9 km² (110.4 mi²). 282.5 km² (109.1 mi²) of it is land and 3.3 km² (1.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.17% water.
Demographics As of the census of 2000, there are 181,743 people, 71,461 households, and 39,803 families residing in the city. The population density is 643.3/km² (1,666.1/mi²). There are 77,054 housing units at an average density of 272.7/km² (706.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 79.20% White, 1.89% African American, 1.34% Native American, 3.62% Asian, 1.89% Pacific Islander, 8.52% from other races, and 3.54% from two or more races. 18.85% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 71,461 households out of which 27.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% are married couples living together, 10.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% are non-families. 33.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.48 and the average family size is 3.24.
The median income for a household in the city is $36,944, and the median income for a family is $45,140. Males have a median income of $31,511 versus $26,403 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,752. 15.3% of the population and 10.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 18.7% are under the age of 18 and 8.5% are 65 or older.
Salt Lake City's political demographics are unlike much of the rest of Utah and its cities and counties where mostly Republicans or conservative citizens dominate and are represented by politicians of similar persuasion. About half of Salt Lake City's population are members of the LDS Church compared with about 75% for Utah as a whole or about 90% for the State's more rural municipalities.