Salt Lake City and County Street Names and Numbers
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This page was last updated on November 3, 2019.
From the pioneer times Salt Lake City's street numbering system used the First South, Second South, etc., method, giving names to streets as they progressed south from Temple Square, located in the center of downtown Salt Lake City. Thus, 100 South was First South, 200 South was Second South, and so on.
A city block in Salt Lake City, and later Salt Lake County, is 660 feet square, measured on each side as 10 "chains", a measurement used by surveyors. The same distance is also known as a furlong, or one eighth of a mile, meaning that one mile is equal to eight Salt Lake City blocks.
Each Salt Lake City block contains 10 acres. Research suggests that the large blocks were meant to support a family as a homestead with gardening and agriculture, with the wide streets providing a right-of-way for irrigation ditches. The streets separating the blocks are 132 feet wide, or two chains, a width supposedly dictated by Brigham Young as being wide enough to turn a wagon pulled by oxen without resorting to profanity.
This numbering in Salt Lake City was used from Temple Square to Ninth South at today's 900 South. From that point, the roads were among the "Big Fields", or the twenty-acre plots where the pioneers cultivated their crops. The naming system continued, but because the roads were farther apart, the area between them was much larger. After Ninth South (900 South), the next road was known as Tenth South, and became today's 1300 South. Next came Eleventh South, which is today's 1700 South. Twelfth South is today's 2100 South, and Thirteenth South is today's 2700 South.
There the "Big Fields" area of Salt Lake City ended and Salt Lake County began. A series of railroad engineering drawings completed by Union Pacific Railroad and its predecessor companies show the street naming system continuing into the central part of Salt Lake Valley.
The railroad drawings were completed in the period of 1918-1925. Updates and revisions show each named street crossed out and changed to the numbered version. The drawings show Thirteenth South as today's 2700 South, and Fourteenth South as today's 3300 South. The area between Thirteenth South (2700 South) and Fourteenth South (3300 South) was known as Millcreek, with George Husler's flour mill being located on the State Road (State Street) and Mill Creek, at about 3000 South, midway between the two roads.
The railroad maps show that the naming system continued as far south as Seventeenth South, which became today's 4800 South in Murray. The road was known as the Murray-Taylorsville Road (Murray-Holladay Road east of State Street) and was the location of the Murray railroad depot, first built by the Utah Southern Railroad in 1871. The Murray area was then known as "The Cottonwoods" because it lay in the vicinity where Big Cottonwood Creek and Little Cottonwood Creek came closest to each other, serving as a water source for various businesses. This was also one of the earliest industrial areas in Salt Lake County, where some of the earliest smelters and mills were built, as well as an early brick making factory, at today's Fireclay Avenue.
The subject of cross referencing today's street names and numbers in Salt Lake City and County, with their historic names and numbers comes up whenever doing research for locations of within Salt Lake County, including street car lines and the locations of various smelters.
(Read more about Salt Lake City's street car lines; street car routes used the old system of street names and numbers)
(Read more about smelters in Salt Lake Valley; locations used the old system of street names and numbers)
On May 12, 1916 the Salt Lake City commissioners voted to change the names of the city streets south of the city. "The names of Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth South streets are changed to Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-first and Twenty-seventh South streets, respectively. The new names conform to the street numbering and are in harmony with the system which is effective throughout the larger part of the city and is now being extended in the county and in Murray city." (Deseret News, May 12, 1916, "this morning")
|Pioneer Name||Current  Number|
|9th South||900 South|
|10th South||1300 South|
|11th South||1700 South|
|12th South||2100 South|
|13th South||2700 South|
|14th South||3300 South|
|15th South||3900 South|
|16th South||4500 South|
|17th South||4800 South (Murray-Taylorsville Road)|
Richard R. Lyman was the vice-chairman of the Utah State Road Commission from 1908-1919. The Utah State Road Commission was created in 1909 and Richard R. Lyman was one of its original members and its first vice-chairman, which position he held during all of his nine years of service. On April 18, 1918 he became an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Lyman was a professional civil engineer. During the 1930s he was one member of a three-member commission established by the American Society of Civil Engineers whose purpose was to develop a system for numbering for streets and roads to make it possible for any traveler to find an address in any city without the help of a map. As early as June 1936, Salt Lake County was using this grid system of street numbering. (Deseret News, June 30, 1936, "being erected in all of Salt Lake County")
June 11, 1936
Salt Lake County adopted the Lyman System of designating street names and numbers for streets and roads throughout Salt Lake County, but outside of Salt Lake City. The change was announced by County Surveyor George M. Haley. The work to change the signs themselves was being done as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, and had already begun in Magna. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 12, 1936, "yesterday"; includes a photo of old and new signs)
(A similar system was also being adopted by Los Angeles County -- Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 1936)
August 15, 1939
After hearing a presentation by Richard Lyman, the Salt Lake City commission agreed to try using the street numbering system used by Salt Lake County. (Salt Lake Telegram, August 15, 1939)
April 17, 1940
WPA crews had almost completed the changing of 300 street signs within Salt Lake county, "More than 300 new street signs, based on the numerical system of naming streets, have been placed by the workers." (Salt Lake Telegram, April 17, 1940, with photo)
December 19, 1940
"City Engineer W. D. Beers reported Wednesday that his crew will start erecting new street numbering signs along Ninth East street as soon as necessary funds for performing the work, estimated at $400, are appropriated by the city commission." "The engineer has obtained 220 new street signs, enough to mark all intersections on Ninth East street from South Temple to Thirtieth South street. They consist of black letters on a white background, 6 by 20 inches in size." "The system was adopted by Salt Lake county last year at the suggestion of Dr. Richard R. Lyman, engineer and member of the L. D. S. council of the twelve apostles, who originated it." (Salt Lake Tribune, December 19, 1940)
April 9, 1941
Bountiful, in Davis county, was the first city to adopt the numerical system of street numbering. The action followed the unincorporated portions of Salt Lake county having adopted the system, and Ninth East in Salt Lake City, the longest thoroughfare in the city, as well as the incorporated towns (as opposed to incorporated cities) of South Salt Lake, South Jordan and West Jordan, all in Salt Lake county. The center of Bountiful was given as the intersection of Main Street and Center Street. (Salt Lake Telegram, April 9, 1941; Davis County Clipper, April 11, 1941, with photo)
February 9, 1945
John Matheson, Salt Lake City Streets Commissioner, announced that the city would use a dual system of street names and numbers. (Salt Lake Telegram, February 9, 1945)
It was during this conversion in 1945 that the streets of Salt Lake City began using a dual system of names and numbers that many found to be confusing. On Salt Lake City's west side and north side, the streets had always been named for the number of blocks they were west and north of Temple Square, which was bounded on all four sides by named streets: Main Street; South Temple Street; West Temple Street; and North Temple Street. Moving west from West Temple Street the first street encountered was named First West (200 West), then Second West (300 West), then Third West (400 West), etc. Moving north from North Temple Street, the first street was named First North (200 North), then Second North (300 North), etc.
March 1, 1945
Concerning this dual system used in parts of Salt Lake City, during a Salt Lake City council meeting, with Richard Lyman presented his support of adopting his system of street numbering. City streets commissioner Matheson remarked that while he was personally in favor of the change, he felt that the citizens were not ready, and would find the change confusing. This was based on public hearings on the proposed change. But the city would continue installing the required sign posts in preparation for the change. (Salt Lake Telegram, March 1, 1945)
November 7, 1945
The Utah State Road Commission received approval for a state-wide road and street numbering system, and together with the Utah Publicity and Industrial Development Commission started a project to begin using the Lyman Plan of street numbering cross the entire state. The reported completion date was to be Pioneer Day in 1947, to have "all Utah streets so numbered by July 24, 1947, that anyone can find any address without a map or other help." (Deseret News, November 7, 1945)
January 20, 1946
"Salt Lake county, 35 miles long and 30 miles wide, including 11 or 12 different municipalities, has adopted the street numbering system and has completed successfully installating signs throughout most of the county." (Salt Lake Tribune, January 20, 1946)
June 8, 1946
Davis County adopted the Lyman system of street numbering, with Farmington, the county seat, being the center of the numbering system. The state was to pay two-thirds of the conversion, and the county would pay the other third. (Ogden Standard Examiner, June 8, 1946, "announced today")
June 8, 1946
An informal poll run by the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper, of the proposed street numbering system, found that 784 persons preferred the present system, without change; 693 preferred a dual system of names and numbers; 203 preferred the numbers-only Lyman system; and 90 had no preference. (Salt Lake Telegram, June 8, 1946)
September 6, 1946
The state highway department started its use of the Lyman system in mid 1946, with an newspaper article reporting that in early September 1946 "work is just now getting started on installation of a Lyman street numbering system in certain sections of the state..." (Deseret News, September 6, 1946)
October 27, 1946
Clearfield, in Davis County, adopted the Lyman system for the numbering of its streets. The east-west and north-south meridian was to be in Farmington, 12 miles to the southeast, giving the the main intersection in Clearfield, the largest city in north Davis county, coordinates of 7370 North and 5000 West. The city had ordered the needed 156 signs from the state prison, at a cost of $600, two-thirds of which ($400) would be paid by the state. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 27, 1946, "announced today")
May 15, 1947
Clearfield announced that it had completed the conversion of its streets to the Lyman system. The Lyman system of street and house numbering called for 100 numbers per block. In Utah, with blocks that are 660 feet square and eight blocks per mile, the system had 800 numbers per mile, or one number for every 6.6 feet. (Ogden Standard Examiner, May 15, 1947)
April 18, 1947
A letter to the editor in 1947 gave an example of the confusion of dual street names and numbers in Salt Lake City, showing that one of the intersections on the west side would be shown as Fourth West (500 West) and Fifth North (600 North). The letter suggested that most residents of the west side would likely pick one system and ignore the other. The letter also mentioned that Salt Lake City had installed 75 percent of the new street signs and that the remainder would be completed by the end of the week, meaning that the project was actually completed in late April or early May 1947. (Deseret News, April 18, 1947)
"North Ogden was the first incorporated town in the county to adopt the Lyman system, doing so in April 1947. The north-south baseline in Weber County is 1st Street, with Wall Avenue as the east-west line. The system wasn't adopted by the county and other communities until fall 1948." (Ogden Standard Examiner, September 29, 1974)
September 24, 1947
The Salt Lake City commission approved the installation of numerical street signs along the main thoroughfares in the city, including U. S. 40, U. S. 89, and U. S. 91, and their alternates. (Salt Lake Telegram, September 24, 1947)
(The avenues area of northeast Salt Lake City did not receive numerical street signs until early 1952, with the project being completed in September 1952 -- Salt Lake Telegram, January 29, 1952; Salt Lake Tribune, February 2, 1952; August 31, 1952, with photo)
October 28, 1949
Clearfield and Davis county began working on a street numbering system that was basically the same as the Lyman system, but with the east-west meridan for Clearfield being a point on the state road in Clearfield, rather that a point in Farmington. It was reported that the postal service was not using the county-wide system, continuing to use the old system and "two or three others, none of which were complete." It was also reported that Bountiful and Kaysville were both using street numbering systems that had their centers within the city limits. (Ogden Standard Examiner, October 28, 1949)
Changes On Salt Lake City's West Side
The earlier naming system worked well for streets south and east of downtown Salt Lake City. However, for streets north and west of downtown at Temple Square, the first street north was North Temple Street, along the temple block's north side. It was numbered as 100 North. Along the temple block's west side was West Temple Street, numbered as 100 West. To match the naming system used to the south and east, the concept of First, Second, Third, etc., was used, but the naming system did not match the numbering system, with First North Street being 200 North, and First West Street being 200 West.
The changes in 1947 made navigation difficult using this combination of different naming and numbering systems on the city's north and west sides. Most residents and businesses on the north and west side of the city simply accepted the confusion and got on with their lives. But there were complaints, especially from new residents as the city grew.
Beginning in August 1972, and continuing during the fall of 1972, the confusing dual system of names and numbers for Salt Lake City's west side was changed. It was first proposed to the Salt Lake City Commission by a resident in January 1972. The city engineer reported to the commission that the change was not practical and would be "opening a can of worms" including the need to change surveys, maps, and city records, as well as records in the Salt Lake County assessor, surveyor, and recorder's offices. On January 19, 1972 a Deseret News editorial agreed with the need for a change but cautioned against it due to the projected costs. After studying the issue, in early August 1972 Mayor Jake Garn said that he would recommend to the commission that the change be made in phases that would include adopting the change in the city's water department as they began using a new computer system, and in the street department as they installed new street signs as part of an already approved modernization effort that would include reflectorized signs at each street corner. (Deseret News, August 5, 1972)
Wirth Watching: Bizarre History of Salt Lake City Streets -- A video by ABC4Utah's Craig Wirth.
The Street Grid System -- Read the Wikipedia article about the grid system of streets.
City Planning -- Information about city planning, in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, at Brigham Young University.
Plat of Zion -- A podcast and accompanying article about the grid systrem used in Salt Lake City.