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Trolley Square: A brief history

Published February 13, 2007 1:14 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Trolley Square is in a historic area of Salt Lake City that Brigham Young in 1847 designated as the 10th Ward when he was gridding the city into neighborhoods.

The area served as territorial and state fairgrounds until 1908 when Union Pacific Railroad magnate E.H. Harriman made it the site for an innovative trolley car system. At one time, more than 144 trolleys operated from mission-style car barns erected at the site. They served the area until the line was discontinued in 1945.

For years, Trolley persisted as a decaying garage for Utah Transit Authority buses and Utah Power maintenance vehicles and the historic block was littered with junk vehicles, old tires and trash contained within barbed wire. Then, in 1972, developers dedicated to historic restoration renovated the old barns, which were painted yellow at the time, into a collection of boutiques and trendy restaurants.

Retailers such as Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma are among key tenants In recent years, Trolley Square has struggled with retail vacancies and in August, ScanlanKemperBard, a Portland, Ore.- based real estate company, acquired it. Scanlan plans a major renovation of the 239,000-square-foot mall that will include the addition of a Whole Foods store and an underground parking terrace. NAI Utah Commercial Real Estate manages the property locally for SKB.