Home Up Day 7

Day 6 - Sightseeing in Salt Lake City

Wednesday AM, bright and clear, but warm.  I dropped Hal and Melissa off at the big convention center downtown, the Salt Palace, and then parked the car and wandered around the city. SLC has a relatively small "downtown" area, only about six or seven blocks square. Of course, it's all centered around the LDS temple and office buildings, in an area called Temple Square.  I parked just a block or so away from the Salt Palace, and walked. A new shopping mall/galleria type place had been opened very recently, called "City Creek Center" - it was a two-level arcade type galleria with a creek running through the middle of it. The upper area has a retractable roof that will cover the whole thing up in case of rain or snow. It was very attractive, super clean, and very bright.  Not many people walking around at all, though, for 10AM on a Wednesday morning. All the men were in long sleeved white shirts and dark pants, and the women were in long skirts, for the most part. I walked around the City Creek Center for a while, and then headed across the street to Temple Square.

 The Salt Palace


 View of a downtown street with the new light rail system

 Retractable Roof

Temple Square is the main touristy place in town. It's bounded by the big Tabernacle on one end, and then a couple of nice reflecting pools and fountains in the middle. Around the outside are a tall LDS office building where you can go up to the 26th floor observation deck, the new LDS Conference Center with a garden and fountains on the roof, and some older buildings that house a bunch of LDS administration, etc.  My first impression of Temple Square, and for that matter, the entire city were that it was squeaky clean, very bright, extremely Caucasian, and full of quite polite, if bland, people. No excitable homeless people shouting at you. No sidewalk vendors, no trash anywhere, heck, I didn't even see anybody smoking outside.  It was almost like Disneyland without the exorbitant prices.  I took dozens of pictures of the flower gardens, the pools and fountains, and the tabernacle itself. Being an infidel, I could not enter the tabernacle. After about an hour wandering around Temple Square, I crossed the street to get the tour of the big new Conference Center Building...

 The Beehive House

The Conference Center is a relatively new building, it's where they have their big meetings twice a year, and there are art galleries and other memorabilia of the Mormon's trek to Utah. You go in and when half a dozen or so people have gathered, a docent gives you a guided tour of the whole place. The auditorium is huge, I think they said it's the largest such place in the world - seats for 23000 people, plus the famous Tabernacle Choir, the pipe organ, and the whole band of gypsies.  It's all built with cantilevered roof support, so there's no columns or obstructed views anywhere in the place.  They took us around where there are some, truthfully, fairly garish paintings illustrating scenes from the Book of Mormon, such as when Jesus came to the new world and preached to the natives, and stuff like that. Oh, you didn't know Jesus converted the Sioux to Christianity?

When the LDS proposed building this thing, some neighbors to the north in a ritzy condo tower complained that they didn't want to look out their windows and see an ugly rooftop full of air conditioning compressors and elevator housings. So they decided to make it a rooftop garden, with wild grasses and flowers and trees and a big pond and all. Interesting.

 My next stop, the LDS office building

The LDS office building across the street has a 26th-floor observation deck which you're welcome to visit. They do make you take a 'guide', but all they do is go up on the elevator with you and just stick by you so you don't wander around and annoy the paying tenants. The two decks face east, towards the mountains in the above pic, and west, out towards the Lake and the desert.  The plexi-glass was pretty dirty, and the dust and smoke in the air was noticeable, but they did have cut-outs in the glass here and there for you to poke your camera out.

 Looking north, towards the Capital Hill area

 Looking east, towards the University of Utah

 Looking west, towards the GSL and desert

 A view of the conference center rooftop - note the condo tower to the right.

Across the street is the Joseph P Smith building, which was used until the new conference center was done. It has a big green-columned lobby with some interesting glass work, and you can go to the 10th floor and look out for some interesting angles on the Tabernacle and such, but you have to shoot through glass. Also visible are some of the surrounding buildings in the Square, and the larger, newer skyscrapers of the city itself. 

After the Smith building, I wandered down to the other side of the square, to the formal visitor center. There is an interesting church there, called the Assembly Hall, which was built and used by the Mormons until the tabernacle itself was finished. Lots of flowers and greenery, and a few shots of the surrounding area - including the waterfall down off the roof of the Conference Center. After this, it was time to go pick Hal and Melissa up, and head home for the day.

Day 5
Day 7