Midvale, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 21

Looking for signs of a Renaissance? See the center of the Salt Lake valley! Photo credit: simonwparsons.com
Looking for signs of a Renaissance? See the center of the Salt Lake valley! Photo credit: simonwparsons.com

While on our tour of the Salt Lake valley, we have mostly focused on the edges. However, to get to the other side, we have to go through the middle, and while we at VIP Limousine have written about some of this area, the true center is the formerly sleepy heart of Salt Lake County. This city on the rise is aptly named Midvale, and it is one of the surprises here in the state of Utah.

Some of the other locales, including Draper and Sandy, have experienced obviously explosive growth in recent years. Midvale, on the other hand, has mostly stayed under the radar, but has achieved no less significance in terms of changes over the years. Midvale’s beginnings center on agriculture and mining upon settlement of the Pioneers, with the center of growth developing around what is now Fort Union. This particular area is home to a wide variety of shops and businesses. It also shares a portion with Cottonwood Heights to the east and Sandy to the south. Midvale is also bordered by Murray and West Jordan.

Outside of Fort Union, there is also the historic downtown of Midvale. What was recently overlooked and underdeveloped is becoming a newly-thriving hub for mobility and business. Previously, the Old Town Center of Midvale had been booming with salons, saloons, theaters, and hotels, but it became overshadowed by growth in other areas. Now, though, it is experiencing something of a renaissance, with a beautiful city hall and other historical buildings being refinished and repurposed for use in the 21st century. These include the up-and-coming Midvale Theatre, which regularly puts on big-name productions for the community and is steadily becoming more popular in the arts scene across the Wasatch Front.

On the heels of these initial redevelopments in the old downtown of the city, Midvale is also attracting major business names to set up shop near the historic areas, which highlights some of the great contrasts in the area. None of these is more prevalent than near the I-15 and I-215 interchange and the Bingham Junction TRAX station on the Red Line. New hotels and shopping have arisen here, as well as the global headquarters of two major companies: CHG Healthcare and Overstock, with its stunning new Coliseum. Neither of these entities were spawned in Midvale, but they saw the opportunity to make a positive move and have become the center of exciting changes. Nearby neighboring company centers include those of Arctic Circle and Ally Bank.

As if further evidence was needed that Utah is a great place to make film, the city of Midvale has also played host to scenes and sequences from several films, including the Halloween series and The Sandlot. The old-fashioned facades in Old Town, the mountainous backdrop, and the quiet residential areas are all conducive to good movie-making.

Except during the filming of a horror movie, Midvale’s streets are typically fairly quiet, since much of it is indeed residential. The 1990s saw the vast majority of Midvale’s population growth, but as the old downtown redevelops, more residences have been added in recent years, especially around the Bingham Junction station. These homes have what could be argued to be some of the best views from the valley floor without requiring a high-rise facility.

Midvale has also born and bred some notable residents over the years. Local actor Corbin Allred has starred in a variety of big-screen films with talent such as Natalie Portman, and he has also appeared in multiple LDS Church videos. Don L. Lind went on to serve as an astronaut for NASA after graduating from the University of Utah and UC-Berkeley.

While we at VIP Limousine have much love for our hometown area, the respect we have for city of Midvale, and its growth and change, is strong. It’s a community which we love greatly and enjoy serving.

Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 20

Want a good place to see the Salt Lake valley? Check out Cottonwood Heights! Photo credit: utahrealtygroup.com
Want a good place to see the Salt Lake valley? Check out Cottonwood Heights! Photo credit: utahrealtygroup.com

As an outsider, if you wanted proof of the growth coming to Salt Lake City and the surrounding area, you need look no further than the edges of the valley to find where and how much of the Utah economy is thriving. In these areas there are housing developments, corporate offices, and developing infrastructure. Some of this is more visible than others, and none is more obvious than the skyline of Cottonwood Heights, a fast-growing business hub on the eastern side of the valley.

Near the Salt Lake skiing mecca of Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird in the Cottonwood Canyons, Cottonwood Heights (named for the abundance of Cottonwood trees in the area) is a gateway to outdoor activities as well as serving as a home for a good portion of the valley. Indeed, the population of the area has grown significantly since the millennium, with the “city between the canyons” being perched between Sandy, Holladay, Midvale, Millcreek, and Murray. Its central-side location pays dividends for access to the rest of the area, with I-215 cutting a corner through it and Utah Transit Authority bus routes slicing through the city streets.

Cottonwood Heights not only has the stunning Wasatch Mountains rising in its vicinity, it also has businesses climbing up and out of its base. Old Mill Business Park features prominently and shows that it’s not just downtown Salt Lake that is home to business players. Dyno Nobel, Extra Space Storage, JetBlue Airways, Instructure, and SanDisk-iO Technologies all have major or primary offices just off the freeway and feature heavily in the local economy. Instructure has software used by universities around the country, SanDisk has created a computer storage empire, and JetBlue offers flights around the country and beyond, including to and from Salt Lake City International Airport, reaching to large markets such as Los Angeles and New York City. Tucked just behind these is a set of great eats, including Market Street Grill and Cafe Trio.

While Cottonwood Heights did not incorporate until 2005, the area has been a location people have called home for a while. The Deseret News constructed a paper mill there in 1883 (the namesake of the aforementioned Old Mill business park is no coincidence); fast forward to the 2000s when Money Magazine put the city on its list of Best Places to Live in the United States. Indeed, Cottonwood Heights has some more established neighborhoods than some of its neighbors, but the homes and their values have retained staying power with their location and design. While the front face of the city from the freeway could easily fit in Silicon Valley (or even the neighbor to the south, Silicon Slopes), Cottonwood has the reputation of staying as a quiet residential city. With only one high school within its borders and much of the businesses confined to the northwestern edge, much the streets stay quiet and safe. It’s been a great place for families to live, and remains so as other cities grow faster and closer together.

Like some of its immediate neighbors, Cottonwood Heights has experienced an economic and industry change in more recent years, going from manufacturing and hard goods to service and technology. One aspect that has not changed, though, is the appeal to the outdoors. Regardless of the season, the nearby canyons beckon to local and visitors to spend time outside hiking and skiing, with breathtaking views and a deep supply of The Greatest Snow on Earth. As regular visitors to all it has to offer, we at VIP Limousine definitely love having Cottonwood Heights as a part of our home.

West Jordan, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 19

See those mountains in the distance? This view is courtesy of a street in West Jordan. Photo credit: saltlakecityhomeforsale.com
See those mountains in the distance? This view is courtesy of a street in West Jordan. Photo credit: saltlakecityhomeforsale.com

Trivia question: Salt Lake County has two airports. Salt Lake City has one, but where is the other? Well, the airport formerly known as Salt Lake City Municipal Airport 2 (the current name is South Valley Regional Airport) is located in the mid-valley suburb of West Jordan. Named for its location related to the Jordan River as it meanders across the Salt Lake valley, West Jordan is the fourth-largest city in Utah. It’s situated south of Taylorsville, west of Midvale, Murray, and Sandy, and east of the Oquirrh Mountain range. As it is part of our home, we at VIP Limousine believe there is good reason for this.

Founded in 1849, and formally incorporated in 1941, West Jordan quickly became a popular residential area, and the proximity to the river (inspired by the River Jordan in Israel) led to the establishment of one well-kept secret: Gardner Village. This unique area is a collection of shops, former homes, and other businesses named after Scottish immigrant and millwright Archibald Gardner. Gardner built a sawmill on the location in 1850 and became a successful businessman known throughout the region. Everything at Gardner Village is locally-owned; no chains or box stores to be found!

Stroll along the cobbled walk in Gardner Village to explore the boutique shops amidst the restored buildings.  It's located just off of the UTA TRAX Red Line at Historic Gardner. Photo credit: visitsaltlake.com
Stroll along the cobbled walk in Gardner Village to explore the boutique shops amidst the restored buildings. It’s located just off of the UTA TRAX Red Line at Historic Gardner. Photo credit: visitsaltlake.com

Due to its middle distance from downtown Salt Lake, but also with its mix of some businesses and neighborhoods, West Jordan, like its nearby neighbor Draper, is a very fast-growing city. While in the 1970s it was home to less than 5,000 people, West Jordan is now burgeoning with more than 100,000 residents. The growth has its downsides, including increased traffic and crowded schools, but the proof that it’s a desirable place to live is exemplified by this trend. In fact, the area is already trying to get ahead of the challenges by working on infrastructure and building up even further to spread the load. The city is now home to two high schools: West Jordan High School, home to High School Musical alumna Olesya Rulin, and Copper Hills High School, which garnered national attention for its prolific charitable donation center.

The striking Student Pavilion at the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College will soon be the center of the entire SLCC system. Photo credit: i.slcc.edu
The striking Student Pavilion at the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College will soon be the center of the entire SLCC system. Photo credit: i.slcc.edu

Bangerter Highway is the main north-south thoroughfare through the city of West Jordan, but to the west is the brand new Mountain View Corridor. West Jordan commuters also have the option of utilizing the UTA TRAX Red Line, which bisects the city and passes near some major points of interest. These include the aforementioned Gardner Village, the city government center of West Jordan, and the Jordan Campus of Salt Lake Community College, which has about 60,000 students enrolled. In the next few years, the Jordan Campus is set to become the main campus for the SLCC system, moving from Taylorsville to down south.

Other developments in the city include the sprawling Jordan Landing Mall, anchored by Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Sears Grand, Lowe’s, and a Marriott hotel. The entire complex stretches for 1 mile along Bangerter Highway and also services the neighboring cities. Besides this development, the city of West Jordan is also the headquarters of some notable regional businesses, including Mountain America Credit Union and Cyprus Credit Union.

With continued growth and local businesses, West Jordan has become “The City of the Good Neighbor,” but also a wonderful place to work and to live. New mixed with old, large combined with small, and opportunities abounding provide for an attractive environment on the edge of Utah’s capital.

Draper, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 18

Occupying the southeastern corner of the Salt Lake valley, much of the residential area of Draper has a fantastic view. Photo credit: sherpasolution.com
Occupying the southeastern corner of the Salt Lake valley, much of the residential area of Draper has a fantastic view. Photo credit: sherpasolution.com

Our tour of Salt Lake City and its suburbs continues moving around the southern valley edge, where the biggest changes to the Wasatch Front are taking place. Utah’s growth is filling the area with people and businesses, but some more than others. One of the more recent population and economic explosions has taken place in the city of Draper, the leafy former home of empty fields, which is now host to the northern end of the Silicon Slopes.

Draper gets is name from a man called William Draper III, who was a local congregational leader of some of the first Pioneers who settled in the area. Unlike Sandy, Draper didn’t have the advantage of being between the Little Cottonwood Canyon and Salt Lake City, hence its historically lesser economic impact and incorporation in only 1978. But the times have changed lately.

An uncommon northeastern-looking view of the Draper Utah Temple. It is one of the easiest temples to spot in the Salt Lake valley. Photo credit: mormonnewsroom.com
An uncommon northeastern-looking view of the Draper Utah Temple. It is one of the easiest temples to spot in the Salt Lake valley. Photo credit: mormonnewsroom.com

The Utah State Prison was constructed in Draper far away from homes and businesses. Nowadays, it is getting squeezed out and ready to be moved next to the Salt Lake City International Airport. Since 1990, the population of Draper has increased more than six-fold. The Canyons School District had to build a beautiful new high school, Corner Canyon High School, less than five years ago. Just up the road is Juan Diego Catholic High School, and both are in great demand to serve the education needs of the area. Not long ago, there were almost no homes down in the Draper area; now they stretch up into the surrounding hillside.

What a beautiful high school! Corner Canyon is tucked inside Draper's residential area. Photo credit: interstatebrick.com
What a beautiful high school! Corner Canyon is tucked inside Draper’s residential area. Photo credit: interstatebrick.com

But nothing in Utah says “population growth” like the presence of a temple constructed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure enough, in 2009 the Draper Utah Temple opened up on the hillside, and defines the city skyline. From a distance, anybody knows where Draper is by finding the temple’s gleaming white structure amidst the houses.

One of the best views in the valley comes from the Draper Castle. Photo credit: californiarich.com
One of the best views in the valley comes from the Draper Castle. Photo credit: californiarich.com

Speaking of houses, Draper is home to some spectacular neighborhoods and architecture. Two of them are not far from the temple. The first one is the Loeffler Mansion, owned by media mogul David Loeffler, which we have featured in some of our photo shoots. The other is its neighbor, the slightly better-known Draper Castle, which appears to have been plucked straight out of a Disney film.

Are we in France? No, still Draper, but the Loeffler Mansion is a beautiful structure. Photo credit: homesoftherich.net
Are we in France? No, still Draper, but the Loeffler Mansion is a beautiful structure. Photo credit: homesoftherich.net

But regardless of wealth or status, Draper is very family-friendly, with many new closely-knit developments and quiet streets. It is also home to the very large Draper City Park, which is not only a welcoming central location for outdoor activities, but also attracts thousands of visitors each winter who are hoping to see the Tree of Life display.

With over 60,000 points of light, the Draper Tree of Life shines brightly every winter in the Draper City Park. Photo credit: YouTube.com
With over 60,000 points of light, the Draper Tree of Life shines brightly every winter in the Draper City Park. Photo credit: YouTube.com

On the western side of the city is where the business end of Draper begins. It plays host to the offices of multiple large companies, including 1-800 Contacts and eBay. Draper is also home to some of the new Utah startups, which has created an incubation chamber for ideas and innovation.

How to experience all of the lively businesses and residential beauty? Draper sits just off of I-15 and has UTA TRAX and FrontRunner service. Sitting on the grid system makes it easy to get around. With the growing economy and an ideal location, the once-overlooked city of Draper is now a thriving VIP Limousine favorite for serving and visiting.

Sandy, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 17

In search of a big sporting event? Look no further than Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy. Photo credit: riotintostadium.com
In search of a big sporting event? Look no further than Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy. Photo credit: riotintostadium.com

The Salt Lake valley has experienced a great deal of growth within the last several decades, and much of this has occurred within the Salt Lake City suburbs even as the city itself continues to expand its international profile. These suburbs contribute greatly to the expansion of the metro area, and one in particular has quietly grown in business, population, and importance. This would be the City of Sandy, nicknamed the “Heart of the Wasatch.”

The source of the city name is still disputed. One theory relates back to Brigham Young’s description of the area’s soil composition, as it was not great for farming. The other is related to the nickname of an immigrant who built the first railroad line to the area. While these developments did not help Sandy grow, the development of the mining industry in Little Cottonwood Canyon did, as the city became a transport hub for mining materials traveling to other points of the valley and beyond. Eventually the mines ran out, but Sandy’s residents adapted to the changing economic and continued to utilize the rail infrastructure to thrive. It changed from boomtown to peaceful suburb, and was incorporated as a city in 1893, three years prior to Utah gaining statehood.

More recently, Sandy has become home to more service-based industry and quiet residential areas, as well as serving as a skiing gateway. Alta and Snowbird, two of the world’s best ski areas, are mere minutes from the center of Sandy. In fact, it’s the closest city to both of them. Since 1939, prospective skiers have traveled through Sandy to get to Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon; Snowbird opened its doors in 1971. One could say that the city of Sandy is indeed the gateway to The Greatest Snow on Earth.

In fact, sports and Sandy go hand in hand. Besides close access for skiing, the city is also home to Rio Tinto Stadium. Visible from miles away, Rio Tinto hosts games and concerts throughout the year and is a major attraction to the city. The main events are the Major League Soccer games of Real Salt Lake, one of the dominant MLS teams in the nation. The stadium also plays host to the new professional women’s team, Utah Royals FC, beginning their inaugural season in Sandy. Soccer is already a popular sport amongst Utah youth, and the professional teams based in Sandy further its popularity across the Wasatch Front.

Some of Sandy’s best known people, and alumni of Alta High School, are Derek and Julianne Hough, the brother and sister dance duo who have appeared on Dancing with the Stars and various other media over the years. The Hough siblings reflect the dedication to the arts across Utah as well as Sandy in particular. This includes the stunning Mountain America Performing Arts Center of Hale Centre Theatre, a monument to the beauty of stage productions, which is home to family-oriented shows and entertainment portrayed by talented local actors and actresses. Additionally, Sandy is home to its own choir and orchestra, the American West Symphony and Choir, performing a wide variety of classical and contemporary repertoire for the community.

Sports and arts are just the start for the draw to Sandy. It is also home to the expansive Mountain America Expo Center, which hosts the annual Salt Lake Auto Expo and a variety of other events. The South Towne Auto Mall is a large conglomerate of car dealerships which cater to all different brands and vehicle needs. Adjacent to it are The Shops at South Town, the largest mall on the southeastern side of the Salt Lake valley, and a centerpiece of one of Sandy’s newest developments, The Cairns. Even the Larry H. Miller Group has its headquarters here.

If any of the above about the city of Sandy is of any interest, it’s easily accessible from around the rest of the area. The legacy of the aforementioned railroad continues with the installation of Utah Transit Authority (UTA)’s TRAX system, extending north and west to Salt Lake City and the neighboring suburbs. I-15 connects the area by car with the rest of the valley and beyond.

Not that residents seem to be leaving, though. Sandy is a picturesque, growing, and thriving city in Utah, and we at VIP Limousine are happy to serve the area and partake of its various offerings.

Murray, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 16

With dual mountain backdrops, Murray City sits in the heart of Salt Lake County. Photo credit: utahrealtyplace.com
With dual mountain backdrops, Murray City sits in the heart of Salt Lake County. The Murray City Park, pictured here, is home to a lot of activity for organized sports. Photo credit: utahrealtyplace.com

Salt Lake City is the name most people outside of Utah know when they think of the Wasatch Front, let alone the state itself. Even Salt Lake County shares the name of the city and the mysterious body of water situated to the north. However, Salt Lake is not at the center of activity in the area, and it’s not the only major municipality either. The so-called “Hub of Salt Lake County” is actually Murray. Sometimes known as Murray City (and pronounced “Murr-ee”), it’s at the true heart of the Salt Lake valley, sharing borders with Taylorsville, West Jordan, Holladay, Millcreek, South Salt Lake, Cottonwood Heights, and Midvale.

The city is named for Civil War Veteran, journalist, and notable anti-Mormon Eli Houston Murray, a former territorial governor of the state of Utah. It officially became a city in 1903, and was quickly established as a center of industry. Prior to incorporation, Murray had served as a crossroads for much of the industrial activity related to building Salt Lake City, including as part of the corridor for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. As a result it was also home to many of the first non-Pioneer European immigrants in the region. The Depression served to cripple this part of Murray’s industry, leading to some major economic changes. This has been partly memorialized in the city’s logo, with the smelter stacks developing the trademark “M.”

See if you can spot the smokestacks in the Murray City logo. Photo credit: murray.utah.gov
See if you can spot the smokestacks in the Murray City logo. Photo credit: murray.utah.gov

One of the most notable changes involves transportation. Murray has some of Utah’s most important freeways passing through its borders, notably I-15 and I-215. It has three UTA TRAX stations and one FrontRunner station providing access all across the Wasatch Front. In addition, Murray is also the place where much of Utah goes to buy a car, with the massive Murray Auto Row stretching up and down State Street. Larry H. Miller and his group of companies got started along this very corridor, and now has regional dominance. State Street is also in close proximity to much of the historic parts of Murray City, including but not limited to the old-fashioned movie theatre and original homes from early settlement.

The historic Murray Theater sits prominently along State Street near the heart of the city. Photo credit: By Murray Theater - Murray Theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8271888
The historic Murray Theater sits prominently along State Street near the heart of the city. Photo credit: By Murray Theater – Murray Theater, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8271888

Fashion Place Mall is another draw to Murray. Opened in the 1970s and extensively redone in recent years, it is one of the dominant shopping centers in the region. It contains unique local stores as well as big brands such as Nordstrom and Macy’s. The central location and modern design makes it an attractive destination for Murrayites and surrounding residents.

Murray’s infrastructure is also unique to a Salt Lake County city outside of Salt Lake City itself: it’s primarily self-governing. It has its own school district, parks, power and utilities, fire department, and law enforcementservices instead of relying on the county or unifying with other municipalities. Murray High School has been used in several movies as well, including parts of High School Musical. With the mountain backdrop and up-to-date construction, the building is in a unique position to feature in film. However, Murray’s most notable landmark is the new Intermountain Medical Center building, which is also home to Intermountain Healthcare, better known as IHC. It’s one of Utah’s largest employers and plays a major role in the health care industry across the west, with dozens of hospitals and clinics providing care for millions.

The people are a lot of what makes a place, and Murray has no shortage of notable residents. Ken Jennings came to fame for his record streak of wins on Jeopardy. And while he may currently live in Nashville, Murray is the hometown of one of the most famous Utahns in pop culture, American Idol Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta.

VIP Limousine has long appreciated Murray’s vibrancy and opportunity as a city and a place to work and play. It’s not a locale we merely pass through. As a company and as individuals, we gladly stop and partake of its businesses and attractions. Strong suburbs like Murray are part of what make our home a great place to live.

Millcreek, Utah. Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 15

We have great mountain views, but these beauties sit just above Millcreek. Take it all in! Photo credit: saltlakelifestyle.com
We have great mountain views, but these beauties sit just above Millcreek. Take it all in! Photo credit: saltlakelifestyle.com

Our beautiful hometown has undergone some big changes over the years. Some of them involve city boundaries, and not long ago there was an important adjustment with the incorporation of a new city. However, the area had been around already for a long time and is known for the canyon perched above it as well as great neighborhoods and schools. This is Millcreek, and it’s known beyond the locality for great reasons.

The area used to simply exist as a township, but several years ago was incorporated as a city, and is the newest one in Utah as of this writing. There are four areas within Millcreek itself: East Millcreek, Millcreek, Canyon Rim, and Mount Olympus. No longer simply a township of Salt Lake City, Millcreek sits with Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake to the north, West Valley and Taylorsville to the West, and Murray and Holladay to the south. The Wasatch Mountains, including Mount Olympus and Millcreek Canyon, sit to the east.

Millcreek does sit at the axis of a great amount of access around the Wasatch Front. It has three freeways (I-15, I-215, and I-80) which run through its boundaries, and there is a TRAX station near the western side which also provides bus access to the heart of the city itself. For this reason, Millcreek is primarily residential with businesses to the north and the south.

For much of its history, Millcreek was not well-inhabited by Salt Lake valley residents, but after World War II the population shifted south of Salt Lake itself. The views and quieter proximity became a draw, and to this date Millcreek has some of the best sunset vistas around the Wasatch, with homes up on the hills overlooking the valley. The area continues to grow, with census counts showing the population over 60,000 people as of 2010.

It’s not just known as a place to live: Millcreek is also a place to get outside and engage in recreation. At the heart of this is Millcreek Canyon, which is a popular hiking spot in Salt Lake County. Complete with picnic tables, camping, and bike-friendly trails, it’s a little slice of outdoor heaven near Mount Olympus that is easily accessed from the bustling city merely minutes away.

And what about the people? It only takes one resident to make a resounding impact on the world, but Millcreek was home to two. Most have probably never heard of the first, but most everybody in the modern era is familiar with headphones. These devices, as we know them today, stemmed from a kitchen table invention by Nathaniel Baldwin. Today they are plugged into i-everything, but Baldwin’s invention began use with the military. The modern-day variants include not only the Baldwin-styled traditional over-the-ear headphone, but also the smaller and sleeker earbud which tucks into the ear canal.

The other notable Millcreek resident, born and raised on a farm in the East Millcreek portion, was Gordon B. Hinckley, who served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Passing away at the age of 97 in 2008, Hinckley was known as the eldest Church president in its history, who also presided over the LDS Church surpassing its goal of building 100 temples by the end of the 2000s. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Hinckley was known for being warm, funny, and genuine. He attended the University of Utah and received many educational honors from other institutions.

Millcreek is an area which VIP Limousine travels to, and traverses, very often. However, we believe it is an area not to be overlooked, with great natural beauty and a cool history. At the very least, it’s worth checking out the canyon.