Ute and Shoshone Indians were early inhabitants of the area. The city was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and a band of 148 Mormons as a refuge from religious persecution and was known as Great Salt Lake City until 1868. Laid out by Young according to Joseph Smith’s plan for the city of Zion, the city was divided into 10-acre (4-hectare) blocks bounded by wide streets grouped around the Temple Block (now known as Temple Square). Mormon immigrants from the East and Europe flocked to the “New Jerusalem,” the “City of the Saints,” in the Provisional State of Deseret (a Book of Mormon word interpreted as “honeybee”). The California Gold Rush of 1849 contributed to the city’s growth.
After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Utah passed to U.S. sovereignty and became a territory in 1850. Salt Lake City was the territorial capital from 1856 to 1896, when it became the capital of the new state. Conflicts between Mormons and U.S. officials led to the so-called Utah War of 1857–58, when General Albert Sidney Johnston’s troops marched through the city to establish Camp Floyd west of Utah Lake. Social and religious conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons continued to influence the life of the city for a century.
Mining operations near Salt Lake City produce copper, gold, molybdenum, platinum, selenium, silver, lead, and zinc, and various salts are produced from the lake. The city is a regional trade and transportation centre and has an international airport. Services such as government, education, health care, and financial and business services are a major part of the economy. High-technology industries and telecommunications are also primary factors. Printing and publishing are important, and manufactures include medical products, computer equipment, software, and aerospace products. Tourism contributes greatly to the economy, with more than a dozen ski areas located near the city. It is also a trade, processing, and transportation centre for agricultural products from nearby irrigated farmlands.
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