Malls and Malls


There has been so much hoopla in the past few years over the opening of City Creek mall that we may forget that there are many other malls in this state of Zion. The first ‘enclosed’ shopping mall ever built was Cottonwood Mall in Holladay in 1962, with its anchor stores at opposite ends- ZCMI and J.C. Penny. Just before the Crash of 2008, General Growth Properties tore down the mall and left Macy’s standing all by itself. Oops, the GGP then filed bankruptcy itself in 2009 and was split into two companies by the courts. The current owners are the Howard Hughes Corp.

Valley Fair Mall in West Valley opened in 1970 as large new home subdivisions started popping up on the old farmlands out there. Fashion Place was built in 1972. University Mall in Orem followed the trend and opened in 1973 and then got later competition with the Provo Town Center. If you travel around the state you will find the Layton Hills Mall, The Newgate in Ogden, South Town in Salt Lake, the Tanger Outlet in Park City, the Outlets at Zion in St. George and in Lehi, University Mall in Orem, Gateway Mall in downtown and for lack of a better description, the ‘theme malls’ like Gardner Village and Trolley Square.
Shoppers love a good Mall. I am not a shopper/gatherer. I’m a hunter. That means I do not like to go into a department store and walk up and down the aisles touching the rounders of clothes gathering ideas. If I need a new pair of pants, I know who sells them, what size I wear and what color I need. I want to park reasonably close, run in, purchase and leave. Wandering aimlessly in crowds in and out of stores is not good therapy for me.

The Cottonwood Mall ‘hole’ of 54 acres weeds and rocks feels like a sad tale of boom and bust, but don’t feel badly for the big money boys. Right now the Howard Hughes Corp. is working with Ivory Homes to design a high end housing development within a mixed use of new stores around the Macy’s island in the Holladay dirt. Although no timeline has been announced for ground breaking you can be assured that one of the largest mixed use shopping and housing projects in the Salt Lake Valley since the City Creek Mall will be announced within the year.

In mall news, props to Gateway this past weekend for having a hugely successful sidewalk Chalk Fest for the Foster kids program here in the state combined with a KSL book giveaway for kids. The media giant gave out 20,000 books in just one day. Also, do NOT miss the world of the Broadway Musical WICKED on the sky bridge at City Creek. The costumes and a display of ‘Behind the Emerald Curtain’ are on display in the sky over Main Street through June 28th. And the bridge itself is lit up green at night while the display is up.

The First Picnic


Happy holiday everyone! I heard on the news that 41,000,000 Americans will hit the road this weekend to seek out fun, family and photos. That’s @13% of our population out and about. The rest of us I guess will do a staycation or work, right? Picnics with friends, going to a Bee’s game, watching fireworks and most likely eating something off a grill. The big show for pyrotechnic fans is BYU’s “Stadium of Fire” in Provo at Cougar stadium and in the capitol city it’s Sugar House Park.

If you are planning to see the Sugar House show you might drive by a little tiny city park on the corner of 1700 South and 500 East. It’s not a piece of grass where you could throw a Frisbee but a park mostly comprised of big granite boulders. This is the First Encampment Park and is where a group of Utah Pioneers – 109 men, 3 women and 8 children camped on July 22, 1847. It’s hard when you drive by this piece of ground to visualize this big group camping there because everything around has been long developed. The park is surrounded by typical streets lined with Victorian, WWI and WWII housing, bus stops, an auto garage/mechanic and an Arctic Circle and 7-11. Yet Parley’s Creek runs under the streets in the neighborhood and that’s probably why the pioneers decided to camp there so long ago.

The boulders in the park have the names of the original folk who camped there etched into them and to me it feels a bit like gravestones. There are no people buried there though. The rocks have been placed carefully and represent our mountains and the creeks and pathways that come out of our hills. A clerk to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young was one of the campers there and wrote in his journal: “We descended a gentle sloping table land to a lower level where the soil and grass improved in appearance…The wheat grass grows six or seven feet high, many different kinds of grass appear, some being 10 or 12 feet high-after wading through thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a camping ground, the brass being only knee deep, but very thick; we camped on the banks of a beautiful little stream.”

The group moved on to downtown where City Creek waters were clear and sweet and thus downtown Salt Lake City grew around the ready and available water. We grew so much from those pioneer days that City Creek was also put underground so streets could be built. The ‘creek’ in City Creek Mall is fake and the only evidence of the creek is actually up the canyon of the same name. This urban pocket park was dedicated in 1997. Check it out sometime when you’re jogging or biking by this historic site.

Ice in the Summer


Okay, wow. Someone reminded me the other day that there used to be an indoor ice rink in Sugar House. My brain activated a very clear image of me and my friend Mike going to Hygeia Iceland one night during college. It was located right across from the Irving School apartments on 2100 South in Salt Lake City. I do not and did not then ice skate. I believe we were drunk as skunks and just slid out on our tennis shoes to cause havoc during a fundraiser for the Westminster football team. But I digress. Summer’s about here, so who’s thinking about ice skating? Many folks love the ice because they grew up playing hockey and the Super Bowl of hockey, the Stanley Cup final, begins this week. All puck fans will have their Kings or Rangers bets on. Utah has a team but it’s a minor one (The ECHL), like the Salt Lake Bees are in stature to the New York Yankees. Sadly, out of the original 26 teams only 10 are left. Minor league hockey hasn’t been faring as well as the big leagues.

From what I have discovered, Utah’s first high school hockey team was established and played at Hygeia Iceland in 1969. They were sponsored by the now defunct (and politically incorrect) Sambos Restaurant. There was a smaller rink up in Ogden around the same time known as the ‘Cow Palace’ which had a half sized rink and produced many amateur teams . In the early ’60’s the Deseret News reported that youth programs were skating at both the old Salt Palace and at Hygeia Iceland. The Salt Lake Eagles team played in Sugar House and traveled to rinks in the Intermountain West and Alberta Canada in 1960-61 . And the State archives have photos of people skating at Liberty Park in 1917, which makes sense as many Utahns emigrated from Scandinavian countries where skating was the norm.

Where can you ice skate or play hockey here? The most famous rink is of course the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. The University of Utah has a rink at the sports complex on Guardsman Way with Saturday theme nights with music and a disco ball for only $4.00 and a $2.00 skate rental. West Valley has the Acord Ice Center and South Davis has a rink for public skating as well. When it gets hot this summer it’s cool and cheap to glide along the ice indoors. Even better, there are summer hockey leagues to get your game.

My favorite trivia about ice skating in Utah is: 1) Frank Zamboni was born in Eureka, Utah. He invented a machine that goes along the ice surface to shave it, smooth it and adds a fresh sheen of thin water to make more ice as it passes; 2) my agent Ben skated as ‘Woody’ for Disney on Ice around the world; 3) 2002 Olympic skater Michelle Kwan lived at American Towers condominiums during the games; 4) Dorothy Hamill, who won gold for the USA in Olympic skating in 1976 was the woman who ran the Olympic torch from the parking lot into the U of U stadium during the opening Ceremonies of 2002. Speed skater Eric Heiden refused to come to the 2002 games here because he wasn’t chosen to light the Olympic torch. What a putz. The 1980 gold-medal U.S. Hockey team got that honor.