Herriman, Riverton, and Bluffdale. Utah: Our Home, Part 25

Much of the Salt Lake valley in recent years has experienced unprecedented growth, especially with commerce and industry. The question is, then, where are they all living? One need look no further than the southwestern corner of Salt Lake County to see further indication of the not only the growth, but also its rapidity. That corner consists of three different cities: Herriman, Riverton, and Bluffdale. All of them carry a great degree of significance as to why we love our home.

Herriman was settled first in 1849 by the Pioneers, and takes its name from one of the four founding families, Henry Harriman and his descendants. The other founding families include Butterfield, Stocking, and Petty. It did not become a city until 2001, but it was also quite small at the time. The population has grown from a little over 1,000 people in 1999 to beyond 51,000 residents, a massive increase in a short amount of time. It now boasts a very nice main street and a beautiful new high school, home of the Mustangs. Many new developments including Rosecrest occupy thousands of acres with beautiful mountain views abounding, with quiet communities and easy access to the remainder of the valley. Herriman in particular directly borders South Jordan and its transit hub along Daybreak Parkway, easing traffic on commuters. The city is also home to the training center for Real Salt Lake.

Butterfield Park is one of the many open places to recreate within the city of Herriman. That magnificent view is also there for all to enjoy. Photo credit: herriman.org
Butterfield Park is one of the many open places to recreate within the city of Herriman. That magnificent view is also there for all to enjoy. Photo credit: herriman.org

Directly east of Herriman, and first settled in 1870, lies the city of Riverton, another primarily residential zone that is also home to businesses, schools, and beautiful parks. This has changed dramatically from the days dominated by farms and fields, with electricity finally arriving in 1912 and agriculture dominating the local economy. The local farming community started to move out in the 1960s and 1970s, opening up the land to development and residents. Nowadays, once-small Riverton has nearly doubled its size within its incorporated boundaries and has a population of more than 40,000 people. One of the south valley’s most important institutions, Intermountain’s Riverton Hospital, opened in 2009 and serves the surrounding area.

The Old Dome Meeting Hall sits in the center of one of Riverton's beautiful city parks, and functions as a meeting house and private event venue. Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org
The Old Dome Meeting Hall sits in the center of one of Riverton’s beautiful city parks, and functions as a meeting house and private event venue. Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

The last of these three is the city of Bluffdale, founded in 1886. Bordering Utah County, Bluffdale has a lot of fantastic landscape along the Jordan River, with high cliffs and low valleys marking its location. Bluffdale has not grown with the same speed as its neighbors, but it is still important for Utah residents and the economy. With a population of over 7,000 people, Bluffdale is also home to Camp Williams, a Utah-based training site for the state National Guard nestled in the Traverse Mountains at the south end of Salt Lake County. The camps also houses the Utah Data Center, under the direction of the NSA from the federal government.

It still has some fields left! Bluffdale is slowly growing to include far more homes, but much of the landscape still reflects the farming past. Photo credit: bluffdale.com
It still has some fields left! Bluffdale is slowly growing to include far more homes, but much of the landscape still reflects the farming past. Much of this can still be seen from the neighboring freeway. Photo credit: bluffdale.com

These southwestern Salt Lake County cities together total nearly 100,000 residents, or almost one tenth of the entire valley population. The quiet streets, nice homes, extra space, parks, and other amenities make Herriman, Riverton, and Bluffdale attractive places for families to live and thrive. It’s our pleasure at VIP Limousine to serve and live by this area, and with its proximity to the growing Silicon Slopes, we look foward to its continued growth and prosperity.

Magna, Utah: Our Home, Part 24

Smooth new pavement is just one of the many efforts turning around Magna in the present day. Photo credit: Wikipedia
Smooth new pavement is just one of the many efforts turning around Magna in the present day. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Utah has long been associated with hope and recovery, with a brighter future ahead. Our communities around Salt Lake City and the Wasatch embody these principles, with the current framework and society being founded by Pioneers who sought refuge and a better life. Some of these areas, though, have done better than others, but with the power of people who care, transformations routinely make their mark when needed. The west side of the Salt Lake valley is full of these stories; namely a few cities that start with “West” in their name. There is one area, however, which seems to be on the verge of making its mark again. Magna is the copper mine township of Salt Lake County, and it is once again on the rise.

Settled in the early 1850s, Magna, originally known as Pleasant Green, is one of the few remaining major townships remaining in the valley after Millcreek incorporated a few years ago. With Salt Lake City and West Valley to the north, east, and south, Magna is set in the foothills of the northern Oquirrh Mountains, the western range which can be seen from within the Salt Lake valley. Magna has primarily been associated with mining over the years due to its proximity to the Kennecott Utah Copper mine, owned by Rio Tinto Group. As the largest open-pit copper mine in the world, Kennecott is crucial for the local and world economy, as the copper ore sourced is utilized in everything from currency to wiring.

Much of Magna’s fortunes have been dependent upon the mine’s success, and the boomtime for the town primarily settled by Eastern European immigrants came during the 1910s and 1920s, when most of the build-up occurred. Magna became home to historical sites such as The Empress Theatre, a stunning facility of both Neo-classical and Beaux Arts design which has reopened its doors to live stage productions. The Empress’s original purpose was to entertain the local miners, but it now attracts an audience and talent from even further afar while maintaining local charms. Even as most business migrated to the south and west of Magna Main Street, the Empress continued to stand and is at the heart of current changes in the township.

Want proof of the efforts to rejuvenate Magna? Look no further than the beautifully-preserved facade of The Empress Theatre. Photo credit: cinematreasures.org
Want proof of the efforts to rejuvenate Magna? Look no further than the beautifully-preserved facade of The Empress Theatre. Photo credit: cinematreasures.org

Magna’s deterioration did not come without serious pushback from within and without. In recent years, Main Street has started to re-awaken, with new pavement, facilities, and some businesses beginning to trickle back. The population has continued to grow again, too, with housing developments expanding, receiving updates, or even taking shape from scratch. Utah Route 201, sometimes known as The People’s Freeway, runs from southern Salt Lake City all the way over through West Valley to Magna, improving access to the valley core. The Utah Transit Authority has also bolstered service to Magna with the state’s first bus rapid transit line running to West Valley and Millcreek, making it easier for the community to move from A to B without having to get behind the wheel.

Some of these moves have started to attract major attention from outside of Utah. With some of the updates and preservation work, Magna has become a magnet for Disney, with Dadnapped, Halloweentown, and Andi Mack all being filmed along Main Street and the surrounding areas. The BYUtv scripted drama Granite Flats is also filmed in Magna. With the number of cameras present, the township may as well be in California.

It may be very far to the west compared to the rest of the Salt Lake valley, but we at VIP Limousine are particularly fond of Magna’s character. It’s a place where we live and serve gladly on a regular basis, and through its ups and downs, we are proud to call it part of our home.

Taylorsville, Utah: Our Home, Part 23

The Jordan River Parkway recreation area is just one of the many beautiful outdoor areas in Salt Lake County, gracing the citizens of Taylorsville with greenery and space. Photo credit: utahagenda.com
The Jordan River Parkway recreation area is just one of the many beautiful outdoor areas in Salt Lake County, gracing the citizens of Taylorsville with greenery and space. Photo credit: utahagenda.com

The northwestern areas of Salt Lake County are often overlooked, and in our opinion, very much underrated. The contributions of Salt Lake City suburbs to the economy and culture of the area, let alone to Utah as a whole, are incredibly important. West Valley is the largest of these, as we have written about previously, and is part of what makes the valley tick. Its southern neighbor, Taylorsville, has risen in prominence and importance as time has passed.

While not incorporated until the 1990s, Taylorsville has been long settled by native Utah tribes and then by Pioneers starting in 1848. Starting with the neighborhoods of Taylorsville, Kearns, and Bennion, it has grown to be the home to over 60,000 people. John Bennion is the namesake of one of these; Taylorsville itself was used to distinguish the area (which is now the city) from the Granger neighborhood in West Valley; Kearns is named after former U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns. Taylorsville started as an agricultural area, even though the soil was difficult and the infamous locust infestation came to Utah.

In the 20th century, Taylorsville quickly became a hub for education, travel, and industry. Many of the new schools in Salt Lake County started to appear in the area. Railroad lines began to develop leading towards downtown Salt Lake and the center of the valley. The industrial side of the economy made a transition involving agriculture and incorporating the two together; eventually the economy turned towards retail and government entities.

World War II increased Taylorsville’s profile drastically, with the base of two military camps being housed there. Today, one of them makes up part of a school. On the education front, Taylorsville is also home to the main campus of Salt Lake Community College (or SLCC, pronounced “slick”) along Redwood Road, responsible for much of the higher education around the Wasatch.

Like Murray, Taylorsville sits near the heart of the Salt Lake valley, which makes it a great place to live. To us at VIP Limousine, “The Centennial City” has been a place of work, play, and life which we proudly serve.

West Valley City, Utah: Our Home, Part 22

The Maverik Center plays host to a variety of concerts, sporting events, and conventions year-round in West Valley City. Photo credit: wvc-ut.gov
The Maverik Center plays host to a variety of concerts, sporting events, and conventions year-round in West Valley City. Photo credit: wvc-ut.gov

When visitors fly into Salt Lake City International Airport, the vista from the plane provides a beautiful overview of the valley. A lot of it may look like it’s Salt Lake City proper, but actually, as our blog mentions, there’s more to it than just the downtown. In fact, a great portion of what may look like Salt Lake is its next-door neighbor, which is also the second-largest city in the state. This is West Valley, which has a wide swath of society within its borders.

After the longtime dominance of the Native American tribes, the neighborhoods that now make up West Valley were first settled by the Pioneers in the late 1840s. The Granger neighborhood was originally populated by migrants from Wales, with the others following. However, the area didn’t really start to grow until the 1970s. Nowadays, West Valley is home to over 136,000 residents.

The city is made up of four original neighborhoods: the aforementioned Granger, as well as Hunter, Chesterfield, and Redwood. For years it was a primarily agricultural area, and the leftover canals which run through the city, plus a few remaining patches of field, are some of the remaining evidence.

After incorporating in 1980, West Valley’s prominence has only continued to grow. It is primarily known, still, for being home to much of the industrial work in Salt Lake County; indeed, it is home to a wide variety of warehouses, shipping, and manufacturing. West Valley is the base for divisions of international companies, such as UPS. But beyond the delivery services, West Valley is booming for business. The following companies have major offices within its limits: Verizon Wireless, Discover, ADP, Intercontinental Hotels, Zions Bank, Optum, Frito-Lay, and Parker Hannafin. Additionally, the following are headquartered in West Valley City: CR England, a locally-based national trucking firm; USANA Health Sciences, an international health sciences company; Backcountry.com, an outdoor gear retailer; and FranklinCovey, one of the world’s leading consulting firms.

So clearly it’s possible to work in West Valley. How about for living? The area, as mentioned previously, started as a primarily residential zone. Today it is still dominated by quiet streets and classic homes, but winds of change have begun to sweep through.

Some of this began in the run-up to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, for which Salt Lake City was the host. However, the venues were spread around the Wasatch, and this included West Valley. The Maverik Center hosted the hockey events and is currently the home base for the Utah Grizzlies ECHL hockey team. When not frozen, it’s also a popular concert venue, located just off of the UTA TRAX Green Line. The other concert venue in the city is the USANA Ampitheatre, backed up against the Oquirrh Mountain range. The open-air space is loud, raucous, and fun, and hosts events which attract tens of thousands.

Outside of entertainment, West Valley’s city center is experiencing something of a renaissance. TRAX extends to the center of government near 3500 South and I-215, with new housing, hotels, and shops in the area. Just across the street is the Valley Fair Mall, which includes an IMAX movie theater and more local and national businesses. It’s easily walkable and accessible from other areas within the Salt Lake valley, and is growing in popularity due to its location.

West Valley is also known for being one of the most diverse cities in Utah by demographics. It has a strong Latino presence, highlighted by the bevy of local restaurants with cuisine hailing from South and Central America and Mexico, as well as the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.

With all of its numerous changes, West Valley is still a quieter suburb of Salt Lake City, but it is definitely growing and making an impact on the local culture and economy. We at VIP Limousine love serving and visiting the city of “Unity, Pride, Progress.”

Midvale, Utah: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.