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25 Things You Should Know About Salt Lake City

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Set against the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges, the city of 191,000 is where your undecipherable handwriting is interpreted and where your rubber chickens are made. Learn more about Utah's capital city.

1. Despite its rep as a conservative religious town, Salt Lake City has a thriving LGBT community and was even voted "Gayest City in the USA" by the Advocate in 2012.

2. Due to its short distance to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named "Great Salt Lake City." The word "great" was dropped from the official name in 1868.

3. Salt Lake City, somewhat surprisingly, is home to the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. Harland "Colonel" Sanders' original restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky, was called Sanders Court and Café. In 1952, Sanders franchised his chicken recipe to his Utah-based friend Pete Harman. Harman changed his own restaurant's name from Harman Café to Kentucky Fried Chicken after people lined up down the street to order his new Southern-fried menu item. The original KFC still stands at the corner of 3900 South and State Street—about 1500 miles away from Kentucky. 

 


4. 
Located just west of Temple Square, the Family History Library is the largest genealogical library in the world. It is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, and is free of charge and open to the public. 

5. The streets in downtown Salt Lake City are unusually wide. When Mormon leader Brigham Young mapped out the city, the roads were built to accommodate the oxcarts that the settlers drove—each street was built wide enough for an oxcart to make a U-turn. 

6. The Great Salt Lake is supposedly home to the North Shore Monster, which witnesses in 1877 described as having the body of a crocodile and the head of a horse. 
 
7. SLC (and Utah more broadly) has one of the youngest populations in the United States, thanks to its very high birth rate.

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8. Established in 1868, Salt Lake City's Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) was the country's first department store. The store was eventually turned into a Macy’s, although the original facade was preserved.
 
9. As of 2014, Salt Lake City was home to more plastic surgeons per capita than any other city in the U.S.

10. Salt Lake City is home to Loftus Novelty, the United States’ leading manufacturer of rubber chickens.
 
11. USPS Remote Encoding Facility, where mail bearing unreadable addresses is sent to be deciphered, is located in Salt Lake City. A team of postal geniuses work here 24/7.
 
12. Further defying its conservative reputation, Salt Lake City has not elected a Republican mayor since 1972, and, in fact, just elected its first openly gay leader.
 
13. A historic friendship was forged at the University of Utah's 2nd Writer's Conference in 1949. At the Salt Lake City gathering, Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) met Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov found Geisel charming, and the feeling appears to have been mutual; five years later, Geisel even paid tribute to the Russian scribe in Horton Hears a Who!, naming a "black-bottomed eagle" Vlad Vlad-i-koff. 


14. Salt Lake City is the home base to one of the fastest-growing motorcycle clubs in the country, Barons Motorcycle Club.

15. Salt Lake City is the only U.S. capital with three words in its name.
 
16. In SLC’s Central City neighborhood, Gilgal Sculpture Garden displays, among other bizarre creations, an interpretation of the chopped-up statue from the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and a sphinx with the face of Mormon leader Joseph Smith. Created by Thomas Battersby Child, a masonry contractor and LDS bishop, in 1947 and maintained until his death in 1963, the garden was privately owned until the city took it over in 2000.
 
17. In the west wing of the capitol, in the National Statuary Hall Collection, stands an unusual figure: the likeness of Utah native Philo Farnsworth. Known as “The Father of TV” for his invention of an early electronic television system. Farnsworth died in Salt Lake City in 1971.

18. One of the strangest museums in Utah is the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum, which exhibits various unexpected oddities, such as a two-headed lamb and a loaf of bread from 1893.
 
19. Hovering over 300 South in downtown Salt Lake City is a somewhat polarizing art display mounted on a pole over middle of the road. Titled Zion/Alien Rocky Mountain Alliance, artist Brook Robinson’s installation is a spaceship with two figures inside—one is human and one is a blue-skinned alien. Both are sharply dressed as Mormon missionaries, in white shirts, ties, and name tags.

20. At Apocalrock Visitor Center, James Muir displays—and explains—more than 100 photographs he’s taken depicting Biblical scenes he's spotted in the cliff shadows on the face of Utah’s Mt. Olympus. The photos of the mountain, which he calls "Apocalrock," are described as “miraculous” and “geo-cosmic manifestations” at the hand of Jesus Christ.

21. The street-naming convention in Salt Lake City is somewhat unique. The city is laid out on a numbered grid, and the naming concept is very similar to the way in which the globe’s latitude and longitude are laid out. Temple Square (or the corner of Main Street and South Temple Street) stands in for the prime meridian (marking the coordinates 0 East, 0 West, 0 North, and 0 South), and the streets south of this point are named 100 South, 200 South, and so on. In addition, although the name of a street would be written as "100 South” on street signs, it’s spoken aloud as “1st South.”
 
22.  According to Kraft Foods, Salt Lake City is responsible for the world’s highest JELL-O consumption per capita. This honor is owed, no doubt, to the fact that JELL-O is a favorite among members of the Mormon church. As such, Utah’s “Mormon Corridor” region has been often called “the JELL-O Belt." 

23. The Seagull Monument stands in SLC’s Temple Square to commemorate the story of the Miracle of the Gulls in 1848, wherein the Mormon settlers’ crops were saved from a swarm of katydids by several flocks of native seagulls, who devoured the crickets over a two-week period. This event was regarded as a miracle by the Mormons, and the California seagull was subsequently named the state bird of Utah.
 
24. Salt Lake City’s basketball team, the Utah Jazz, hails originally from New Orleans—explaining the team’s unusual tag in a city that is not known for its jazz culture.
 
25. As they settled Salt Lake City, the Mormons were the first in the American West to implement a large-scale irrigation system. One of their first items of business upon arrival in the region in 1847 was to dam City Creek and cause it to flood, so they could plant potatoes in the resulting softened soil. Sourced from the Jordan River, their complicated irrigation plan eventually included 1000 miles of ditches and transformed the arid Salt Lake Valley into arable farmland, enabling the population in Salt Lake City to grow quickly.

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This Just In
Kentucky City Lets Residents Pay Parking Tickets With Canned Goods
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Racking up parking fines? If you live in Lexington, Kentucky, you can pay off your tickets with canned food donations.

ABC 36 reports that, for the fourth year in a row, the city's “Food for Fines” program will help stock the shelves of God’s Pantry Food Bank—a member of Feeding America—throughout the holiday season. Beginning today, the city’s local parking authority is allowing residents with outstanding citations to donate preserved goods in lieu of cash through December 15.

Ten cans will get residents a $15 credit on any parking citation. And for drivers with a drawer-full of tickets, they can bring as many cans as they can carry to earn a $15 credit per 10-can donation. (Yes, even past due citations are eligible.)

"During the previous three years we have collected 24,500 cans of food, which is the equivalent of 12 tons or 16,000 meals,” Parking Authority executive director Gary Means said in a press release.

If you're planning on donating, make sure to check the date: Expired items won't be accepted.

[h/t ABC 36]  

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Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY
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Art
A New Exhibit Celebrates New York City's Public Art Legacy
Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY
Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Walking through New York City could be likened to strolling through a smog-filled gallery. For the past 50 years and more, artists have brightened its streets, subways, and buildings with vibrant mosaics, installations, sculptures, and murals. To celebrate their creativity—and the pioneering public art initiatives that made these works possible—the Museum of the City of New York has created a new exhibit, "Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art."

"Art in the Open" features over 125 works by artists such as Kara Walker, Keith Haring, and Roy Lichtenstein, among others, all of which once graced the city's five boroughs. The exhibit explores the social and historical motivation behind outdoor art, and also connects it with overarching urban themes.

“The ubiquity of public art is a big part of what makes New York City so special,” said Museum of the City of New York director Whitney Donhauser in a statement. “From parks to the subways, from Staten Island to the Bronx, creativity is all around us. Experiencing the wide variety of art created for public spaces gathered together within the walls of a museum offers visitors a new lens for appreciating and understanding our city’s extraordinary 50-year commitment to public art.”

The exhibit runs from November 10, 2017 through May 13, 2018. Head to the Museum of the City of New York website for more details, or check out some photos below.

Jane Dickson's 1982 artwork "Untitled," part of "Messages to the Public"

Jane Dickson, Untitled, part of Messages to the Public, Times Square, 1982.

Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Ugo Rondinone's 2013 installation "Human Nature"

Ugo Rondinone, Human Nature, Rockefeller Center, 2013. Presented by Nespresso, Organized by Tishman Speyer and Public Art Fund.

Photograph by Bart Barlow. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Subway artwork "Times Square Mural" designed by Roy Lichtenstein,
Times Square Mural (2002) © Roy Lichtenstein, NYCT Times Square-42nd Street Station. Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design.
Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

Vik Muniz's 2017 subway artwork "Perfect Strangers"

Perfect Strangers (2017) © Vik Muniz, NYCT Second Avenue-72nd Street Station. Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Rob Pruitt's 2011 artwork "The Andy Monument"

Rob Pruitt, The Andy Monument, Union Square, 2011.

Photograph by James Ewing. Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Laurie Hawkinson, Erika Rothenberg, and John Malpede's 2004 artwork "Freedom of Expression National Monument"

Laurie Hawkinson, Erika Rothenberg, and John Malpede, Freedom of Expression National Monument, 2004, Foley Square.

Photo courtesy of Erika Rothenberg

Artist Kara Walker's 2014 work "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby"

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected: A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. A project of Creative Time. Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, NY, May 10 to July 6, 2014. 

Jason Wyche, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Artwork © 2014 Kara Walker.

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