The Warehouse District Boundary Increase is a mixed development neighborhood reflecting the commercial/industrial growth and ethnic diversity of Salt Lake City, Utah, between 1869 and 1966. The district expansion is an increase in the geographic scope and period of significance for the existing Warehouse District (NRIS # 82004149), which was listed on the National Register in 1982 and encompassed 16 buildings constructed between 1890 and 1927. The existing Warehouse District was listed under the Salt Lake Business District Multiple Resource Area (MRA) (NRIS # 64000872). This district boundary increase is also proposed to be listed under the MRA as well as under the additional documentation provided herein. The Warehouse District Boundary Increase is located along the western edge of downtown Salt Lake City and is roughly bounded on the north by 50 South, on the east by 300 West and West Temple Street, on the south by 1000 South, and on the west by the eastern right-of-way line of Interstate 15 (I-15). This boundary increase encompasses approximately 544 acres of developed lands and encompasses the entirety of the existing Warehouse District. The majority of resources in the boundary increase are commercial buildings associated with the warehousing and distribution services that developed following the arrival of freight railroads in Utah in 1869. Residential resources (e.g., single- and multi-family dwellings are relatively rare in the district and are largely found as isolated buildings or small clusters of buildings scattered throughout the district; the exception is a somewhat larger concentration of dwellings in the southern portion of the district. The Warehouse District Boundary Increase, excluding the existing Warehouse District, encompasses 361 primary resources, of which 200 (55%) contribute to the significance of the district. Among the contributing resources are 26 that are already listed on the National Register as individual resources. The contributing resources reflect a broad range of architectural types and styles from Classical to Modern and include one archaeological site. The remaining 161 resources encompassed by the district expansion are considered non-contributing resources – historical resources that have been substantially altered and out-of-period resources. Included among the contributing resources are two sites comprising an historical railroad network and an historical park (Pioneer Park/Old Pioneer Fort site; NRIS #74001938).
- Central Warehouse Building
- Garden Hotel
- W.P. Fuller Paint Company Office and Warehouse
- ZCMI General Warehouse
The original Warehouse District (NRIS # 82004149) was listed on the National Register in 1982 and includes 16 buildings with a somewhat undefined period of significance from approximately 1890 to 1927. The original district boundary encompasses a roughly 1-block area straddling 200 South between 300 West and 400 West. Of the 16 buildings in the original district, 15 were determined to be contributing resources, and one was listed as a non-contributing resource. The additional information presented in this boundary increase nomination documents that the sole non-contributing resource of the original district has been demolished and changes the status of two of the contributing resources – 357 West 200 South and 380 West 200 South – to noncontributing due to significant physical alteration subsequent to the original listing. The additional information provided here for the boundary increase also expands period of significance for the district from ca. 1890 to 1927 to 1869 to 1966 and updates the resource
counts to include properties outside the original district but inside the expanded district boundary.
Data regarding the current status of resources within the district expansion were compiled from a reconnaissance level field inventory conducted in late 2012 for the southern portion of the boundary increase study area and one conducted in 2015 specifically for the remaining areas within the study area as well as from the Salt Lake City Business District MRA. Each of the field surveys evaluated historical buildings for contributing and non-contributing status according to guidelines established by the Utah State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in its Reconnaissance Level Survey: Standard Operating Procedures (revised March 2012). The information gathered from the two field studies was used to establish the area and resources to be included in the district boundary increase presented herein. The most common reasons for resources being excluded from the district or identified as non-contributing resources were dates of construction outside the period of significance (1869-1966) or substantial physical alteration of the resource, the most common forms of which included introduction of modern cladding, changes in fenestration, and notable out-of-period additions.
The building stock of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase reflects both the slow, but inevitable, development of the area as Salt Lake City expanded to the west of the initial village encampment during the decades after settlement and two major construction booms that truly shaped the character of the district. The first construction boom came during the early 1900s, when the economic depression of the 1890s had passed, and burgeoning railroad and mining industries drew thousands of ethnic immigrants and large commercial investments to Salt Lake City. The second major construction boom occurred during the immediate post-World War II period, when a strong post-war economy and advancements in freight transportation drove renewed commercial investment in the area.
Among the greatest influences in the evolution of the built environment in the district are the railroads of the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) and the Union Pacific (UPRR). Mainline tracks for each railroad extend north-south through the northern and western portions of the district and, historically, effectively established a boundary between the residential and retail areas of the neighborhood to the east and the industrial and distribution (warehousing) areas to the west. Within the district, the remnants of the D&RGW’s system, which included a large rail yard inside the western perimeter of the district boundary increase, are the most intact. Historical buildings—most considered contributing to the district—remain from the maintenance facilities as do the multiple tracks and siding of the D&RGW yard. Occasional spur line tracks extend off the mainline railroads to historical warehouses and manufacturing complexes in the district, though most such extant tracks are no longer in use.
The earliest of the development for which buildings are still present in the study area are from the period of 1869 to 1899. A total of 29 buildings (20 of which are contributing) remain from this period. These buildings represent both residential (single family dwellings) and commercial uses of the area; they are scattered roughly evenly across the northern and southern portions of the district.
The period from 1900 to 1928 was characterized by a commercial/industrial building boom and the increasing settlement of ethnic minorities in the district. Of the documented buildings, 102 were constructed during this period. Of these, 78 are contributing. The contributing rail network and the contributing park also date to this period. By far, commercial and industrial buildings— especially warehouses—represent the majority of structures built during this period. Only a handful of single-family and multi-family dwellings from this period remain in the study area. Resources from this period can be found in most parts of the boundary increase but are located in greatest concentrations in the northeastern and southern parts of the district.
Not surprisingly, few buildings from the Great Depression and World War II period (1929 to 1945) are present in the district. In total, only 31 buildings from this period were identified; 22 are considered contributing resources. Of these, most were constructed during the early 1940s, after war-time demand had stimulated the economy and ended the Great Depression. All of the buildings from this period are commercial properties reflecting warehouse, manufacturing, retail, and office uses. They are found throughout the district.
As noted above, the second great building boom in the district occurred during the Post-War era (1946 to 1966). A total of 111 buildings from this period are located in the district; 79 are considered contributing resources. This represents the greatest number of structures from any historical period in the district, though it is only slightly more than the district’s first construction boom of the early 1900s. All but two (2) of the documented buildings are commercial in nature with office, retail, and light manufacturing appearing to represent the dominant uses.
Warehousing remained a common commercial use as well, with numerous warehouse/distribution buildings constructed during this period. The buildings from this period can be found throughout the district but are located in the highest numbers in the southern half of the district and along major roads with easy and short access to the on- and off-ramps of I-15 at 400 South, 500 South, 600 South, and West Temple Street.
Commercialization and Immigration (1900 to 1928)
Within the district are 104 resources that date to the period from 1900 to 1928, including 77 contributing buildings, 26 non-contributing buildings, one contributing rail network, and one contributing park. This period represents the first of the two major construction booms in the area and the one most directly influenced by the spread of rail networks throughout the Salt Lake Valley after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. While the transcontinental rail connection was established in 1869, it took several decades for the web of connector railroads and spur lines to expand throughout northern Utah. An economic depression in the early 1890s also slowed the spread of the lines. However, by the turn-of-the-century, an extensive and healthy rail network wound its way through the western side of Salt Lake City, and an economic boom spurred on by success in the local mining industry and the establishment of the D&RGW railroad shops near 400 South and 700 West drew much residential settlement and new commercial construction to the area.
Commercial and public structures are the most common category of buildings in the study area from this period. 1-, 2-, and 3-Part Block forms and warehouses are, by far, the most common commercial building type from this era. Most exhibit simple stylistic elements captured under the category of 20th Century Commercial style; however, others, such as those along 200 South between West Temple and 200 West and those within the previously listed Warehouse District, exhibit strong elements of Victorian styles, particularly the Italianate style. These “high-style” buildings were all designed by trained architects, including noted architects Walter Ware, Alberto Treganza, Richard Kletting, and Samuel Whitaker, among others.
Although still comprising but a small percentage of the building stock of the district, residential structures from this period can be found. Like their predecessors, the few dwellings are primarily single-family homes in Victorian forms, such as crosswing, rectangular block, and central-blockwith-projecting-bays forms. Not surprisingly, the dominant architectural styles applied to these dwellings are also of the Victorian era; Victorian Eclectic and Italianate are the most common definable styles. By the mid and latter part of the period, however, new residential forms began to appear along the Wasatch Front. These forms had their roots in trends in American architecture and included bungalows and period cottages. Unlike other neighborhoods of Salt Lake City where entire subdivisions of bungalows and period cottages sprang up along streetcar lines, such forms are relatively rare in the remaining historical building stock of the district. This reflects, in part, the shift away from residential construction to commercial construction that began in earnest in the neighborhoods of the district in the 1910s. Modern development, which has resulted in the demolition of many historical dwellings in the area as the popularity of the area for residential uses has waned in recent decades.
Several multi-family dwellings were also constructed in the district during the early part of this period, before the transition toward commercialization. Among the more interesting of these properties are the Covey Flats/La France walk-up apartment and rowhouses found along 300 South between 200 West and 300 West. Similar rowhouses and walkup apartments dating to this period are found in the southern part of the district, which retains, perhaps, the largest remaining collection of residential structures in the area.
Among the public buildings from this period are several churches and a railroad depot. The churches include the Period Revival style Japanese Church of Christ at 268 West 100 South (NRIS # 82004144), the Byzantine style Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church at 279 South 300 West (NRIS # 75001816), and the Victorian Gothic LDS Fifth Ward chapel at 740 South 300 West (NRIS # 78002670). The railroad depot— the D&RGW (Rio Grande) Depot (NRIS # 75001815) is a central-block-with-wings structure located at 300 South Rio Grande Street and designed by architect Henry S. Schlachs in Renaissance Revival and Beaux Arts styles.
Great Depression and World War II (1929 to 1945)
Thirty-one (31) buildings documented in the district date to this period, including 22 contributing resources and 9 non-contributing resources. This is the second fewest buildings for any of the thematic periods established for the area. Of the 31 buildings, none are residential properties; all are commercial and public-use structures.
Extant commercial and public structures of this period reflect the austerity of the time. Identifiable forms include several late examples of 1- and 2-Part Block structures, while most represent either warehouses or buildings classified in Utah SHPO reconnaissance-level survey codes as other commercial/public forms. A handful of structures represent service bay/business forms, a new architectural type to appear in the building stock during this period; this form includes one or more large vehicle bays with adjoining office or workshop space. A majority of the buildings exhibit no definable style. Rather, they are simple utilitarian structures lacking adornment. One building, a service bay/business structure at 568 West 200 South, incorporates elements of World War II-Era Colonial Revival style typically found on residential architecture; this is the only building in the study area classified as this architectural style, with its narrow (non-existent) eaves combined with symmetrical fenestration. This period also saw the introduction of the Art Moderne style to the area. A single Art Moderne building from this period is present in the district at 554 South 400 West.
Post-War Era (1946 to 1966)
One-hundred-eleven (111) buildings in the district date to this period, which represents the second of the two major construction booms in the area. Of these, 79 are considered contributing resources and 33 are considered non-contributing resources. All but two of the documented properties represent commercial or public uses. The two residential properties—both of which are considered non-contributing resources—represent undefined architectural forms exhibiting Late 20th Century: Other architectural styles.
Despite their large numbers, non-residential buildings of this period largely represent a narrow range of warehouse, other commercial/public, and service bay/business forms. Warehouses of this period differ from their corollaries of the preceding periods in that rather than being aligned to accommodate loading and unloading from rail cars, they were designed to accommodate individual semi-trailer loading either through a series of individual loading bays or individual stalls along communal loading docks. Specialty buildings, such as railroad engine repair shops and personal storage units also appear in the contributing building stock, as do structures such as motel courts and service/gas stations that were designed to cater to the rising automobile culture of the post-war period.
Architectural styles represented in the area’s building stock during this period are dominated by what is classified as Post-WWII: Other style, with Late 20th Century: Other styles, including Mansard, Contemporary, and general Late 20th Century aesthetic treatments, being second most common. As with the preceding period, many of the commercial buildings are utilitarian in form and lack any semblance of high-style design. Rare exceptions include the buildings at 501 West 700 South, 540-560 South 300 West, 726 South 400 West, which exhibit Art Deco and Art Moderne styles in gradations from subtle influence to high design.
Historic Structures and Sites
One historic structure and one historic site are included in the district as contributing resources. The historic structure is a discontinuous network of railroad spurs that were part of the D&RGW Railroad system near their Salt Lake City rail yard and served the historical warehouses and manufacturing facilities that developed adjacent to the yard. These spur lines— mostly constructed during the late 1800s and early 1900s—are a direct reflection of the influence the railroad had on the development of the Warehouse District and the area of the boundary increase.
The historic park/fort site is the Pioneer Park/Old Pioneer Fort, which was listed on the National Register in 1974 (NRIS # 74001938) [Photograph 28]. The park property, bounded by 300 West, 400 West, 300 South, and 400 South, was the site of the first pioneer fort constructed after the initial settlement of Salt Lake City in 1847. By 1890, the fort had been abandoned and demolished, and the land was converted to park uses. It is for its function as a park that this site is contributing to the Warehouse District. The park soon became a community gathering spot for those living nearby, including the ethnically diverse residents of the Warehouse District neighborhood. The park was only one of five city parks at the time and the only one located near the western part of the city. In the early 1900s, against the backdrop of labor organizing (i.e., unionization) the park served as a venue for protests for workers in the nearby D&RGW and Union Pacific rail yards.
A total of 55 percent of properties within the Warehouse District Boundary Increase are considered contributing resources, including the properties of the existing Warehouse District. This reflects strong retention of historical integrity of location, design, materials, and workmanship within the array of historical resources present in the area. As a district, the area retains integrity of setting, feeling, and association as a late-1800s to early-1900s working class and industrial neighborhood heavily influenced by the railroad industry. The collective integrity of the area has been compromised to a minor degree by the recent construction of several large scale mixed use developments, but such changes do not affect the continuity of the district as defined by the selected boundaries. The contributing resources reflect the influences of the railroad and the four distinct development periods within the overall period of significance.
Statement of Significance
The original Warehouse District was listed on the National Register in 1982 and included 16 buildings with a somewhat undefined period of significance from approximately 1890 to 1927. The original district boundary encompasses a roughly 1-block area straddling 200 South between 300 West and 400 West in Salt Lake City. Of the 16 buildings in the original district, 15 were determined to be contributing resources, and one was listed as a non-contributing resource. As noted previously, the additional information presented in this boundary increase nomination documents that the previously identified non-contributing resource (358 West 200 South) has been demolished, and that two of the previously listed contributing resources—357 West 200 South and 380 West 200 South—are now considered non-contributing resources due to significant physical alteration subsequent to the listing of the original district.
The areas of significance for the existing/original district are not well-defined in the MRA record that served as the basis for the original Warehouse District listing, nor does the MRA establish any defined contexts for the district. The MRA, which described several potential small districts, notes the areas of significance for the MRA itself as architecture, commerce, industry, politics/government, religion, transportation, and “other” without specifically identifying the relevant themes for the Warehouse District. However, the MRA describes the original Warehouse District as being significant as “a well-preserved cluster of warehouse buildings that convey a sense of the impact of the coming of the railroad in Salt Lake City.” This statement effectively indicates the district was considered eligible for listing under Criteria A and C. The additional information provided here for the boundary increase more clearly defines the areas of significance applicable to both the existing district and the additional properties within the expanded boundary. It also expands the period of significance for the expanded district from the original ca. 1890 to 1927 to 1869 to 1966.
The Warehouse District Boundary Increase is also significant under Criteria A and C. As noted, the period of significance for the expanded district is extended from the relatively narrow period represented by the original district and begins in 1869 with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, which greatly influenced the development of the area, and ends in 1966, the current end of the historical period (i.e., 50 years ago). Under Criterion A, the district has local significance in the areas of Social History, Commerce, Industry, and Transportation for the direct association of the district with the railroad industry and the commercial and residential development it spurred along the west side of Salt Lake City. With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad came an immediate proliferation of other mainlines and spur lines to connect the communities and industrial centers of the West to the rest of the nation. Two of these mainline systems—the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) and the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR)—extended through what was, at the time, the western fringe of Salt Lake City. Shortly after, the D&RGW established regional maintenance shops and a rail yard for their Utah subdivision in the west Salt Lake City area, in the heart of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase. The UPRR also established a rail yard just beyond the northern edge of the district. The railroad mainlines are included in the district as contributing archaeological resources. The presence of the shops and yards drew many immigrants to the area in search of work. A large number of these immigrants had countries of origin that were quite different from the predominant northern European ancestry of Salt Lake City’s earliest settlers. The ethnic minority immigrants settled on the west side of the city, near the rail yard and maintenance shops in which they labored. The neighborhood became one of the largest and most diverse ethnic enclaves in the city. A web of railroad spur lines appeared in the area as commercial interests took advantage of the proximity of the mainline railroads to establish manufacturing and distribution (warehouse) sites with easy and immediate rail access to both regional and national markets. Although the manner of transporting industrial goods and freight shifted in the years after World War II and the rise of long-haul trucking, manufacturing and distribution remained a major land use in the district. Railroading also retains its influence on the development and use of the area with a commuter rail hub and rail yards still present within the district.
The district is also significant at the local level under Criterion C for its architectural integrity and its reflection of the four major periods of development influenced by the railroad industry and its role in the economy of the area. The building stock of the area represents both high-style and vernacular architectural trends in Utah and stands as a testament to the economic differences of the commercial interests that could invest in architect-designed buildings and the laborers who could not. It also reflects the largely utilitarian nature of the freight and distribution industry, where investments in ornate architecture yielded to functional efficiency. As a collective body of architectural resources, the buildings of the district illustrate the shifting focus of the area from an initially balanced distribution of both residential and commercial/industrial properties to one of predominantly commercial/industrial uses. Small, isolated pockets of historical dwellings are scattered throughout the central and northern portions of the district, while the southern portion of the district is the only area to have retained its historical dwellings in any large concentration. Additionally, the relatively large number of historical warehouse buildings compared to other areas of Salt Lake City lends a unique composition to the architectural make-up of the district and lend the district its name.
The additional documentation presented herein for the boundary increase expands the period of significance for the Warehouse District beyond the relatively narrowly defined period of ca. 1890 to 1927 for the original district. It also more precisely defines the areas or themes of significance beyond those alluded to in the original MRA listing but not discussed in detail.
As noted above, the Warehouse District Boundary Increase is significant under Criterion A for its direct association with the railroad industry and its influence on the economic development and ethnic diversity of Salt Lake City. The historical significance of the district under Criterion A falls under the thematic areas of Social History, Commerce, Industry, and Transportation. While in some historic districts these themes may stand individually on their own, in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area they are intertwined, no one theme separable from the others. This is due to the manner in which the arrival and expansion of railroads in the area spurred industrial and commercial development, which enticed large numbers of ethnic minorities to immigrate to Utah and settle in the neighborhoods that now comprise the district.
The district is also significant under Criterion C for its diverse collection of architectural resources that reflect both Utah’s adoption of national trends but also the unique development of the area that included both high- and “low-“ style architecture as well as small residential buildings juxtaposed against large industrial and commercial structures.
The historical and architectural significance of the district are discussed in more detail below in the context of the four major development periods that shaped the district and comprise its period of significance.
Railroads and Outside Influences (1869-1899)
Under Criterion A during this contextual period, the significant themes for the district are Transportation, Industry, Commerce, and Social History due to the arrival of the railroad and the attendant rise of local industry that drew a more diverse population of immigrants to Salt Lake City than had resided here during the early settlement period. The information below describes the manner in which these areas of significance manifested themselves in both the neighborhood of the Warehouse District. Under Criterion C during this contextual period, the area of significance of Architecture began to manifest itself in the appearance of new industrial and commercial property types and architectural styles along the western fringe of Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City and the Utah territory changed dramatically with the arrival of the railroads. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 at Promontory Point, well north of Salt Lake City. Other railroads were soon constructed through Utah, and Salt Lake City became a hub for regional and national trade. The arrival of the railroads also spurred the development of industry and commerce within Salt Lake City. Railroads connected the city to the rest of the country, opening it up to new people, ideas, and goods. Many immigrants began to arrive, including gentiles (non-Mormons) and Mormon converts from European countries. The population of Salt Lake City boomed, increasing by nearly 62 percent between 1870 and 1880, the third highest growth rate in the city’s history; the subsequent two decades showed a comparably impressive level of growth in the city as well. The growing population required that the city support densities much greater than those envisioned in the Plat of Zion. Providing for increased density caused disruptions to the original plat, with the addition of new streets and subdivision of larger existing lots.
As the population grew, the city’s infrastructure grew along with it. By the 1870s, a horse-drawn streetcar system had been established over a few miles of roads in downtown Salt Lake City, east of the current survey area. Over the next 20 years, the streetcar system developed into an extensive complex of electrical trolleys operated along parallel lines by competing companies. At its apex shortly after the turn-of-the-century, the system provided passenger service to most of the Salt Lake Valley. By 1891, multiple trolley/streetcar routes passed through the neighborhoods comprising the Warehouse District Boundary Increase. Interurban rail lines serving communities north and south also entered Salt Lake City in these neighborhoods, and the area played host to the depots of various national rail lines, including the UPRR and D&RGW.
The availability of public transit, the influx of new people and access to national markets and aesthetics, and the wealth accruing to both Mormon and non-Mormon businessmen and mining magnates in the burgeoning economy had a profound effect on both the density and type of land use in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area and on its building stock. As wage labor and commercial access to food products grew, Salt Lake City’s dependence on an agrarian lifestyle waned. Many of the larger lots in the eastern and southern portions of the district were subdivided to provide for residential development of block interiors. Multi-family housing also increased in number in these areas as population density increased along with the easy transit access to employment in downtown Salt Lake City and elsewhere in the valley. Elsewhere in the area, industrial and commercial development proliferated.
The arrival of the railroads had a significant impact on the form of Salt Lake City. Former residential areas gradually transformed into industrial and commercial areas. This was especially true of the western portion of the city, which included the new rail lines. Commercial and industrial uses developed rapidly in this area, which soon became known as the West Side, and it developed as a more distinct neighborhood apart from the rest of the city. Cooper/Roberts Architects describe the transformation, noting “this area so clearly devoted to commerce and industry became a separate zone of the city… already separate and distinct visually and in sense of purpose from the rest of the city.”
Several prominent rail lines were extended through the district during this period, including the Utah Central Railroad along 400 West and the Utah & Northern Railroad along 500 West. Both lines later became part of the UPRR’s Oregon Short Line rail system). The Salt Lake & Fort Douglas Railroad also ran through the area, along 800 South. This line was built in 1883 and removed by 1897. The presence of the rail lines was only part of the changing landscape of the developing west side of Salt Lake City. In addition to the tracks, railroad companies, including the UPRR and D&RGW, constructed large rail yards and maintenance facilities in the heart of the area, turning Salt Lake City into a major railroad hub for the western United States. These facilities brought a decidedly industrial feeling to the area. The D&RGW shops and yard are located in the heart of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase, whereas the UPRR yard is located just beyond the northern district boundary.
As railroads were built through the area during the late 1800s, commercial and industrial uses also developed. Sanborn Fire Insurance Company (Sanborn) maps from 1889 provide detailed illustration of the northern and central portions of the district but not the southern part of the district, indicating development density in that area was still sufficiently light at the time to not warrant detailed mapping. For those areas addressed in detail, the maps depict predominantly single-family residential development in the northern and east-central parts of the district with light commercial development along 200 West and 400 West. Blocks of higher density residential development, including apartments and rowhouses, were scattered around this area as well. The central and western portion of the area was dominated by railroad-related development, and the southern portion of the mapped area (which ends at about 450 South) showed a much greater diversity of residential, commercial, and railroad uses.
By 1898, the southern part of the district had developed enough to be included on the Sanborn maps. These maps illustrate the changing character of the area from low-density, agrarian development to higher density single-family and multi-family dwellings on small lots.
Commercial and industrial uses were interspersed with residential areas. Notable businesses of the time included ice, beer, and vinegar companies, as well as a brick factory and the Salt Lake Rapid Transit Company’s repair shed. The Grant family, including Heber J. Grant, a future president of the LDS Church, opened a soap factory at 741 South 400 West around 1894. The building, which still stands today, was taken over by the Mount Pickle Company (later the Utah Pickle Company) prior to 1911. Rail sidings were constructed from the rail lines to serve the new commercial uses such as the soap/pickle factory. The alignment of the sidings contrasts with the regular street grid. Sidings curve away from the main lines and penetrate the block interiors, interrupting the regular pattern of streets, blocks, and lots. The street grid was also altered by the addition of streets and mid-block alleys.
In addition to illustrating the changing built environment in Salt Lake City at the close of the 1800s, the 1898 Sanborn maps reflect the growing ethnic and religious diversity that occurred as part of the city’s industrialization and connection to the rest of the nation through railroads. For example, where for decades the maps had only identified LDS Church (i.e., Mormon) ward houses in the area, by 1898 they depicted religious institutions to serve other faiths, such as the American Methodist Episcopal church.
Commercialization and Immigration (1900-1928)
Under Criterion A during this contextual period, the significant themes of Transportation, Industry, Commerce, and Social History persist through the expansion of the railroad network and rail yards in and through the district and the associated increase in the number of manufacturing, warehouse, and other distribution facilities that developed along the web of railroad spur lines. Labor brokers specifically contracted by the railroad companies and other industrial entities brought hundreds of southern European, Syrian, Latin American, and other immigrants to the neighborhood, where they established small, ethnic enclaves. Under Criterion C during this contextual period, the area of significance of Architecture is reflected in the first major construction boom to occur in the district and the increase in the variety of building types and styles, including a greater mixture of commercial and residential properties than would be seen in subsequent periods. Also during this period, the unique architecture of warehouses and distribution centers dependent on the rail network for transportation of freight and supplies became fully manifest.
During the early twentieth century, Salt Lake City continued to emerge as a major regional center, attracting many new businesses and residents. Different land uses increasingly occurred in distinct zones of the city. Downtown became predominantly commercial. The West Side, with its proximity to the railroads, continued to transform from residential and agricultural uses to industrial and distribution (warehouse) uses. Residential development occurred primarily to the south and east of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area. During this period, Salt Lake City’s modern form emerged: a dense commercial core downtown, industrial uses along the railroads, and residential subdivisions to the south and east. Among the major commercial enterprises that established businesses in the district during this period were the Utah Pickle Company, which took over the Grant Soap Company building around 1908; the Queen of the Valley Rolling Mill at 380 West 800 South; International Harvester, which constructed its building at 435 West 400 South around 1918; the Husler Milling and Elevator Company facility at 425 West 500 South; and Western Moline Power, which set up shop at 331 South Rio Grande Street.
As the city’s population grew, multiple waves of immigration brought increasingly diverse residents to Salt Lake City. Many immigrants came from southeastern Europe, notably from Italy and Greece, while others came from Japan and Syria. As immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, several distinct ethnic neighborhoods emerged. Most were located the western edge of the downtown area and on the West Side. In addition to residences, these neighborhoods provided goods, services, and institutions for different immigrant groups. These distinct ethnic neighborhoods persisted through the end of World War I. After the war, immigration slowed, and the neighborhoods began to break up.
The Polk Directories for Salt Lake City reflect the diversity of immigrants living in the district during this period. Directories published in 1930, shortly after the end of the Commercialization and Immigration period, show that residents of this area had surnames of predominantly British, Norwegian, Latin American or Spanish, and Syrian origin. The directories also indicate that many of the residents of the ethnic neighborhoods worked in the nearby industrial centers, particularly in the railroad yards, while other worked as general laborers, drivers and chauffeurs, and mechanics, among other professions.
With a handful of exceptions, most residents of the area represented the labor and working class. The Covey Apartments, completed in stages in 1904 and 1905, are an excellent example of the mixing of classes in the area. The 1910 census lists among the tenants several clerks and laborers in the mining industry along with managers and proprietors of retail stores, several engineers, an accountant, a newspaper foreman, a railroad yard master, a baker, a miller, a draftsman, and an inventor, among others.
The increasing population size and diversity was reflected in the public structures of the district. For example, in 1910, the Fifth LDS Ward constructed a new meetinghouse—which still stands today at 740 South 300 West—to accommodate the size of the congregation. The Greek Orthodox Church building at 528 West 400 South was also abandoned during this period in favor of a larger building at 439 West 400 South that could better serve its growing congregation.
More rail sidings were constructed in the study area during this period, providing easy access to transportation for both people and freight. The sidings resulted in distinctive building forms, which have angled or curved walls to accommodate the paths of the sidings. Although most sidings have been removed, several buildings with this distinctive form remain standing in the district, and the former paths of the sidings remain as vacant corridors between buildings and down what now appear as alleys.
As the rail network expanded and the ethnic neighborhoods added commercial and public services, the built environment of the neighborhoods began to transform into one of much more intermixed residential and non-residential structures. Although some areas, particularly portions of the southern part of the district, remained solidly residential, historical maps suggest the rest of the district saw an increase in non-residential buildings constructed amidst small cottage dwellings.
The 1911 Sanborn maps also show that some blocks in the southern part of the district were partially cleared of all previous structures, most of which had been single-family dwellings. On these blocks, former residences were removed or demolished but not always replaced with new structures. The cleared blocks were typically occupied by large-scale industrial facilities, some of which required extensive yards for their operations. The maps also suggest a trend toward changes in lot sizes throughout the district, with smaller, former residential lots being combined to create larger lots, presumably more attractive to commercial or industrial developers.
Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
Under Criterion A during this contextual period, the significant themes of Transportation, Commerce, and Industry are the most dominant. The area of Social History became less prominent as the area transitioned from one of mixed residential and commercial uses to one of largely commercial and industrial uses. That is, the ethnic enclaves that had developed during the earlier periods began to disband as the area transitioned away from residential uses. Under Criterion C during this contextual period, the area of significance of Architecture is reflected in the appearance of new building types, especially those that appeared during the latter part of the period in response to the initial rise of automobile culture during World War II. These new building forms include those with service bays, parking lots to accommodate vehicles, and loading docks designed to be served by trucks rather than trains.
The rapid development that characterized much of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Salt Lake City slowed abruptly with the onset of the Great Depression. As with the rest of the country, poverty and unemployment in Salt Lake City soared during the 1930s. Not surprisingly, very little new construction occurred during the years of the Great Depression. New construction starts were rare, and many retail operations struggled to survive.
Federal programs such as the Works Progress Administration helped provide employment on public works and construction projects to help alleviate the difficulty caused by the economic collapse. Additionally, “federal programs of the New Deal helped Salt Lake City recover from the depression by stimulating industrial expansion, and expanding commercial activities through the investment of large amounts of federal monies.” Though it is unclear whether any specific New Deal programs were implemented in the district, it is likely that some form of investment occurred given the heavily industrial nature of the area and the programs’ emphasis on expanding industrial and commercial payrolls.
World War II brought hardship but also the beginning of economic recovery for the Salt Lake Valley. The extensive railroad network in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area made Salt Lake City a strategic location for federal military operations; activities at Fort Douglas—on the northeast bench of the city—were expanded and defense industry facilities were constructed along the Wasatch Front, including several a few miles from the district. The expansion of the defense industry created many jobs in the region, and the local economy began to grow again.
Economic growth spurred by World War II contributed to increased construction in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area during the early 1940s. This included substantial new construction at the D&RGW rail yard in the west-central portion of the district. The D&RGW shops had been largely destroyed by fire in early 1938. Due to the Great Depression, the company had delayed plans for reconstruction until the economic resurgence of World War II and the demand for rail service in support of the war effort made rebuilding not only financially feasible but a political and social imperative. The new D&RGW shops were constructed to replace the ones destroyed in the fire as well as to accommodate the changing of train locomotives from steam to diesel operation and the increased war-time demand for more trains.
Historical maps suggest the booming war-time economy led many commercial operations in the district to expand their buildings and new businesses to move into the area. This commercial and industrial growth in the district served to further shift the complexion of the northern part of the district to one of predominantly non-residential uses. Industrial and commercial facilities also increased in numbers in the south half of the district, but small enclaves of residential properties persisted, particularly in the area between 700 South and 900 South from 200 West to 400 West. Many residents of the district are believed to have relocated to the newer streetcar suburbs of south-central Salt Lake City, where working class neighborhoods sprang up away from the gritty environs of the industrial sector.
Post-War Era (1946-1966)
Under Criterion A during this contextual period, the district is significant under the areas of Transportation, Commerce, and Industry. The area of Transportation during this period is represented by both rail transportation and automobile transportation and the social and economic shift from an economy and culture based in rail transport to one based in automobiles, both private and commercial. That is, as the culture of America shifted toward one more centered around the automobile, the commercial and industrial use of the Warehouse District area adapted to new ways of transporting goods and new ways for consumers to access those goods. Under Criterion C, the district is still significant under the area of Architecture for the building types, particularly among manufacturing, warehouse, and distribution facilities, that were designed specifically to accommodate the automobile (e.g., semi-trailer) freight shipping. These buildings reflect the height of the transition away from freight rail transportation during the historic period.
The Post-War Era in Salt Lake City was one of continued economic prosperity and residential and commercial expansion. Although the boom years of the war-time economy had passed, modern manufacturing and building techniques that came out of the war experience combined with thousands of returning soldiers ready to start families in houses of their own.
The post-war housing boom did not occur in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase area the way it did in the suburbs surrounding the district. Rather, more residents moved out of the district and into these new suburbs, paving the way for the demolition of many dwellings in favor of commercial structures. The rare new residential construction that did occur appeared as infill projects.
Automobile use became widespread during the Post-War Era, altering the form of development in Salt Lake City. The construction of the interstate highway system, beginning in the late 1950s, allowed for increased urban sprawl; I-15 was constructed along the western edge of the district during this time and both physically and socially separated the district from more residential neighborhoods to the west. With the completion of the interstate system and increasing affordability of personal vehicles, those who worked in Salt Lake City were able to move to suburban communities elsewhere and commute to work in the city.
The construction of the interstate also affected industrial areas of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase. In addition to rail access, many businesses gained easy access to the new highway. The highway system continued to facilitate access and ease of transportation for businesses near I-15, and the flexibility of long-haul shipping via semi-trucks compared to the rigid routes of rails led to a decline in activity at the D&RGW rail yard in the western part of the district. Among the businesses to construct new facilities in the district during this period was Wycoff Company, which specialized is long-haul truck shipping from its warehouse at 540-560 South 300 West.
Sanborn maps from 1950 suggest that commercial operations in the district became increasingly focused on distribution and heavy industry during the Post-War Era. Notably, they included metal and machinery companies, lumber and coal yards, and warehouses. Smaller-scale businesses still existed amidst the larger commercial complexes, and businesses specifically serving automobile owners, such as service stations and mechanics garages, sprang up along the major roadways through the district, including 300 West, 400 South, and 900 South.
The historical resources of the Warehouse District Boundary Increase directly reflects the significant influence of the late 1800s and early 1900s railroad networks that occupied the west side of Salt Lake City. These resources represent both the railroads themselves and the commercial and residential developments they spawned. The historical buildings of the district illustrate the adoption and adaptation of national architectural trends within Salt Lake City as well as the development of vernacular and utilitarian architecture indicative of the working class and industrial nature of the neighborhoods. In no other locations in Salt Lake City does the combination of the historical railroad network and the unique patterns of land development they prompted exist in such a readily identifiable way as in the Warehouse District Boundary Increase.