Salt Lake City, often abbreviated to SLC, is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. With a population of 189,899 as of the 2011 estimate, the city lies in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a total population of 1,145,905. Salt Lake City is further situated in a larger urban area known as the Wasatch Front, which has a population of 2,328,299. It is one of only two major urban areas in the Great Basin, (the other being Reno, Nevada) and the largest in the Intermountain West.

The climate of Salt Lake City is semi-arid with four distinct seasons. Summer and winters are long with extreme temperatures during both seasons. Both spring and fall serve as brief comfortable transition periods for the year. The city receives 16.50 inches (419 mm) of precipitation annually with spring generally being the wettest season of the year. Summers are very dry. Snow occurs on average from November on through April with an average snow fall of 61 inches (155 cm).

In ancient times the state of Utah was inhabited by various Native American groups. The ancient Pueblo People known as the Anasazi built large communities in southern Utah from roughly 1 to 1300 AD. The Ute Tribe from which the state takes its name and the Navajo Indians arrived later in this region. The state of Utah also referred to as the “State of Deseret” became part of the United States in 1848 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo where Utah and other modern day southwestern states ceded from Mexico. Deseret means honeybee, a symbol of industriousness. Utah’s state symbol is the beehive.

Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and the Mormon followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

The original founders extensively irrigated and cultivated the arid valley upon their arrival. A late frost, drought and a plague of crickets during their first year nearly destroyed their harvests. Flocks of seagulls consumed the crickets and saved enough of the crops for the early settlers to survive the winter of 1848-49. The seagull is Utah’s designated state bird. Due  to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named “Great Salt Lake City.” The word “great” was removed from the official name in 1868. Although Salt Lake City is still home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church), fewer than half of the populations of Salt Lake City are currently members of the LDS Church. In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed by the driving of the Golden Spike at the Promontory Summit, some 80 miles northwest of Salt Lake City. Utah was then connected to the East and West. Many people traveled by rail to see the “City of the Saints.” Some stayed to make and lose their fortunes in mining. From the 1860’s up to the 1920’s hundreds of copper, silver, gold and lead mines were opened in the nearby canyons, including Bingham Canyon. Some prosperous mine owners constructed large, gracious homes along South Temple Street, once known as Brigham Street.

During the 1930’s the city’s population nearly tripled. The Great Depression brought construction to a standstill, but the boom sounded again during World War II as manufacturing industries and military installations revitalized the economy. Workers and soldiers spent their time in the city’s restaurants, shops, ballrooms and theaters. During the 1960’s several commercial and service centers were built in the suburbs of SLC, drawing business away from downtown. To help counteract this, the Mormon Church invested 40 million dollars into the development of the downtown shopping area. The ZCMI Center Mall, named for Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution, a prominent retail chain started during the city’s pioneer days, was the result of the redevelopment effort. Well into the 1970’s new businesses and shopping areas were built within renovated classic buildings generating vitality and activity in the downtown community. Salt Lake City’s continued growth into the 1980’s and 90’s brought the expansion of the Salt Lake International Center, University of Utah Research Park and the Triad Center. The downtown skyline continued to grow with the building of the Salt Palace Convention Center at its present location and the construction of the American Stores Tower, currently known as the Wells Fargo Center. A new judiciary courts complex was also built at this time. Redevelopment restored city blocks, building facades and new urban parks further enhancing the beauty of the downtown area.