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Getting around Salt Lake Ctiy

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  • Getting around Salt Lake Ctiy

    Someone gives you directions: “From Eleventh East, drive west on South Temple to Seventh East. Turn left and go south on Seventh to Thirty-ninth South, and then west on Thirty-ninth South to 398 East.” You start driving and soon you’ll either have reached your destination (398 East 3900 South) or you’ll be wishing someone would just help you find the fastest way out of this crazy town. Relax! Nowhere is there a community more logically planned than Salt Lake City. And logical means easy to understand.

    Salt Lake’s unique street numbering system is almost identical in concept to that of longitude and latitude. Think of the point at which the Equator intersects the Greenwich Meridian – in other words, 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude. On the globe, that zero-point is just south of Ghana off the West African Coast. In Salt Lake City, it’s at Temple Square. Salt Lake is laid out on a simple grid system. Virtually every address in the city has a set of two coordinates telling how far east or west and how far north or south it is from Temple Square (or the corner of Main and South Temple Streets to be exact). Although an address such as 682 East 400 South may look strange to you, just remember that it simply describes a location on the grid. Consequently, both “halves” of the address (“682 East” and “400 South”) are equally significant, the second half being the street name and the first half being a specific point on that street. Even streets with names (Harvard Avenue, for instance) also have a numbered “coordinate.” If you were looking for Harvard Avenue, it would be helpful for you to know that its coordinate is 1175 south.

    Driving east from Temple Square, you’ll find that the numbers on the street signs get larger. You’ll come to 5th East, 9th East, 13th East, etc. These streets run parallel to Main Street, which borders Temple Square on the East. Driving south from Temple Square, you’ll reach 4th South, 17th South, 39th South, 45th South, etc. These run parallel to South Temple, which borders Temple Square on the south. The same principle holds true, of course, when traveling north from North Temple or west from West Temple. Simple so far, right?

    And yet a couple of things still tend to confuse out-of-towners. To begin with, the street signs will generally say both “Fifth East” (the street name) and “500 East” (the coordinate). In order to make sense of this seeming discrepancy, imagine a decimal point just prior to the two right-most digits. Once you recognize that Fifth East = 5.00 East = 500 East, the battle’s half won. Any way you look at it, you’re talking about a street 5 blocks east Temple Square, running parallel to Main Street. Likewise, 350 West is really 3.50 West. That’s 3½ (or 3.5) blocks west of Temple Square. To find a business located at 1633 East 4500 South, look first at the second half of the address. Your destination is located on Forty-fifth South, the street which runs parallel to and is 45 blocks south of South Temple Street. The first part of the address, 1633 East, designates where on 45th South the business is – in this case, 16 and one third blocks east of Main Street. (That’s over 8 miles – better consider driving!)

    Which brings us to one last thought. Think of a “block” as a unit of measure. There are just under seven blocks to the mile in Salt Lake. And because a “street” is not necessarily the same as a “block”, it’s important to understand the difference. For instance, if you were walking from Fifth East to Sixth East, you might pass Oak Street. The sign on the corner would give both its name, “Oak Street”, and its coordinate, “525 East” (think 5.25 East). In other words, the distance between Fifth East and Sixth East is one block, while the distance between Fifth East and the first street east of it is only about ¼ of a block. See how easy? Now, go enjoy Salt Lake City!

  • #2
    Re: Getting around Salt Lake Ctiy

    Thanks katzpur for some long awaited, helpful and interesting information on Utah! This info is the kind of resource a traveler needs when visiting a new city and it was kind of you to take the time to clue in our members as to how to navigate Salt Lake City!

    I live in NYC and with a few exceptions, there is almost no way for me to explain finding addresses on streets and avenues. There is a wallet sized "conversion" chart to use in order to help find a street address, but it gets kind of messy trying to figure out the formula since it kind of changes depending upon what area of NYC one is in. I can get anywhere I need to in the city pretty much without thinking (except downtown can get a little tricky) but when I have an address to find, well I get a jump start by knowing whether it is "East" or "West" of 5th avenue, the central dividing line for most of Manhattan. Long story short, when trying to find an address here in NYC, it's best to just ask someone in advance for the cross streets!

    What you gave us was very helpful as Utah is a beautiful and popular state to visit, with Salt Lake City being the pre-eminent city in Utah. We are grateful to you for giving us such a great travel tool for visiting YOUR city!

    Now, no one can will get lost in SLC - that is, unless they want to, and just meander around once in a while as it is often nice to do when one is visiting a new place. Armed with your guide, when one is done "meandering" and want to get back to the hotel, they can short cut it directly back to where they need to be!

    Thanks a bunch!
    Colleen Costello
    Message Board Moderator

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    • #3
      Re: Getting around Salt Lake Ctiy

      I thought of this post last week while listening to an obviously not native reporter on a local TV chanel explain that the incident she was reporting happened at "One Thousand North". To a native Salt Laker that kind of jingles in the brain like a fingernail on a chalkboard. There is no One Thousand anything in the Salt Lake Valley-- about as far away as you can get from the center is only 148th south (about 20 miles...21 if you divide by 7, but written 14800). So I am assuming she meant "10th north" which would be written 1000 North. I'm wondering if there is some conspiracy to change the way we refer to our streets....

      Anyway, I'm thinking of printing this explanation and sending it to her. Apparently even people who have lived here awhile still don't get it. Which is really confusing to me since it is simple and logical.


      • #4
        Re: Getting around Salt Lake Ctiy

        thanks for the nice article....