We’ve mentioned it a time or two in the past, but urban green spaces are an incredible resource for city dwellers. Salt Lake City, in particular—with its remarkably poor air quality and frequent temperature inversions—benefits greatly from these spaces, which tend to mitigate pollution. In fact, Salt Lake City’s “climate positive” goal of a 50% reduction in the community’s footprint by 2030 includes the addition of more green space in certain districts.
One of our very favorite green spaces in Salt Lake City is that of Liberty Park. A lively, 80-acre hub from which some of the most idyllic and well-located neighborhoods extend—Central City, 9th & 9th, Liberty Wells, and Sugar House among them—Liberty is the perfect spot for just about any outdoor activity. Our warm and sunny days are numbered, so we suggest you take advantage of this beautiful oasis as much as you can in the coming weeks!
A Little History
Originally, Liberty Park was a mill and farm, and two of the original structures—the Chase Mill, Utah’s oldest standing commercial building, and the historic Chase home, a museum in the center of the park, just east of the center paths—still exist in the park. In 1860, the park was acquired by Brigham Young, who planted many of the cottonwood trees (along with others) that line the paths today. Young stipulated in his will that the land should be sold to the city at the lowest cost for public enjoyment, and in 1881, the Salt Lake City Corporation officially purchased and named Liberty Park. Playgrounds were installed, a bandstand was built, and a zoo operated for nearly 20 years (until it outgrew the park and moved to the mouth of Emigration Canyon, ultimately becoming Hogle). In 1938, Tracy Aviary was founded by Russell Lord Tracy, a wealthy banker who donated his private bird collection to “Salt Lake City and its children.” The pond at the southwest corner of Liberty has seen many iterations over the years: it’s said to have hosted a speed boat in the 40s and been home to a huge paddle boat, the River Queen, the 50s, and it served as a swimming hole for years.
Today, Liberty Park is as lively with people as it is packed with good things to do on any given day of the week. Along with the expected fields of grass—insert picnicking, exercise, sunbathing, reading, frisbee, yoga, slack lining, etc.—you’ll find a substantial playground (with water features when it’s hot) for the wee ones and a handful of BBQ pits on the east side. For those more inclined to team sports, a few sand volleyball courts stand on the opposite side of the park from the tennis center, which hosts 12 outdoor courts and 4 indoor (plus, visitors are set for basketball, bocce ball, kickball, and horseshoes). A walk through the Tracy Aviary in the southwest corner is a perfect way to spend an afternoon, after which you can visit the mini amusement park and concession stand (operating times are somewhat inconsistent, but the food hits every time). A swimming pool is open in the warmer months, but the aforementioned Liberty Park pond is home to plenty of birds for watching and, depending on time of year, a few rentable paddle boats (for paddling). Throughout spring, summer, and fall, this is where you’ll find our city’s people, taking full advantage of jogging paths, open space, and the foresight of SLC’s early planners/citizens.