When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first arrived in Salt Lake City, they began organizing the city by ward squares or blocks. Trolley Square has been part of Salt Lake City’s heritage since 1847, when Brigham Young designated the area as the Tenth Ward.
THE DEMISE OF THE TROLLEY BARNS
Once the Utah Light & Railway Co. ceased operation in the early 1950s, the buildings were painted yellow and turned into bus storage. Eventually, the property fell into disrepair and was threatened with demolition in 1969 (Razavi).
UTAH LIGHT & RAILWAY CO. TROLLEY BARNS
The Tenth Ward later served as fairgrounds until 1908, when Union Pacific magnate E. H. Harriman chose the site for his state-of-the-art trolley car system. By 1914, more than 144 trolleys served the valley. The trolley car system ran through “Salt Lake City to Holladay, Sugar House, Bountiful and Centerville, totaling 146 miles of track,” and making it the premier transportation system in the state (Razavi).
TROLLEY SQUARE BEGINNINGS
The car barns were saved from demolition in 1972 when a local family purchased the property, adapting it for retail use (“Trolley”). Wally Wright was the architect for the project—still well known today for his work on the historic property. Wright’s vision for Trolley Square was inspired by Ghirardelli Square—the San Francisco chocolate factory refinished as a shopping center. It was Wright’s idea to remodel and restore the trolley barns into Utah’s first festival marketplace (Razavi).
The first store to open at Trolley Square was the Trolley Gas Station (Razavi). The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Pub, and Payne Anthony—still open today at Trolley Square—were some of the other original businesses. Additional early restaurants and retailers include: Chalk Garden, Wm. B. Woods, Haroon’s, The Ice Cream Store, Corn Dog Trolley, Trolley Games, The Granary Pizza Loft, Casa Del Sol, La Bathtique, and Trolley Theatres.
Trolley Square quickly became one of Utah’s most popular attractions—offering unique shopping, dining, and entertainment in a charming, historic atmosphere. Trolley Square was registered as a historic site by the state of Utah in 1973, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Trolley Square Museum Preview - every Thursday and Friday from 5-9pm.