Utah's History

By Thomas G. Alexander; Eugene E. Campbell et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 30
The Development of An Urban Pattern

J. Michael Cleverley

The origins of Utah town and city patterns antedate the entry of the first settlers into Salt Lake Valley. Joseph Smith developed a master plan for the City of Zion to be built in Independence, Missouri, and it was this concept that the Mormon builders tried to follow when creating their communities in the West. Although modifications were common and each city seemed to display its own variations, all could easily be identified as Mormon towns by their square blocks, wide streets running north-south and east-west, central blocks for church-community buildings, and family farming activities on the large residential lots. The concept fit well with Utah's topography and limited water resources, and the spacing of buildings proved to be an excellent way of preventing urban fires from spreading.


Factors Influencing Urban Location

As the Mormons began implementing their city scheme throughout the Great Basin's eastern valleys, several factors influenced both where and how rapidly the cities grew. The supply of life- sustaining resources has always influenced urban patterns, but certain resources were especially important in the semiarid valleys that the pioneers claimed as their promised land. Water, timber, and irrigable land were to be found, but locations that provided all three in convenient proximity were scattered. This led to an isolation of settlements, and much of the development occurred along the Wasatch Range where water, land, and timber were most available.

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