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ROSE PARK/NORTH TEMPLE
Rose Park experienced its first surge of inhabitants just after World War II when young men returned from abroad, married, bought plots of inexpensive land in the area, and built homes. The neighborhood’s religious and ethnic diversity stems from this time, when neighbors were predominantly non-Mormon, blue-collar railroad workers. Several decades later, Rose Park appeared run down and unpromising. Many homes were abandoned, and crime rates were high. That was then, and today, the area is exceptionally appealing. Rose Park is one of the city’s most affordable neighborhoods, close to downtown and with a great deal of character. Many 20- and 30-somethings are settling here to enjoy both diversity and city living.
Red Iguana (736 W. North Temple): Its brightly colored walls and the owners’ obsessive collection of Frieda Kahlo posters make the Red Iguana endearing, and its moles containing ingredients like chocolate and pumpkin make it unforgettable. The restaurant is frequently crowded, but the lines move fast and the food is worth the wait.
Day Riverside Library (1575 W. 1000 North): The Rose Park branch of the City Library is a key community anchor. The front lawn was Xeriscaped long before the trend became popular, and its children’s library and book readings draw large audiences. The branch’s programs emphasize bilingual opportunities and classes. With a caring staff, the library’s walls frequently showcase neighborhood art, particularly from nearby elementary schools. The result is a lovely environment for borrowing books or simply relaxing at a corner table.
Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West): The fairpark is home to the Utah State Fair (obviously) but also concerts and events, including X96 Big Ass Show and a yearly ski and board swap.
GLENDALE & POPLAR GROVE
Glendale and Poplar Grove co-exist on the southwest side of Salt Lake. Glendale, named after the area’s middle school, has a unique culture that fuses multi-ethnic inhabitants with Salt Lake City history. The vibrant neighborhood is home to churches of varying denominations, Mexican markets and small family restaurants. Young, working couples and families plus the occasional retiree inhabit Poplar Grove and Glendale home. Every abode is different, made original by those who live there. Wooden houses with painted accents, colorful mailboxes, and flower gardens meld artistry and domesticity. But best of all is the smell that permeates the neighborhood air, ranging from barbecued pork to fresh tortillas to baked yams.
International Peace Gardens (1060 S. 900 West): Located on the banks of the Jordan River, the Peace Gardens, are becoming neglected to the point of resembling the one in Agnieszka Holland’s film The Secret Garden. Fence paint is peeling, gardens are overgrown and the walkways are often deserted. Sectioned off and decorated by different country organizations, you can enjoy the gardens’ shifting landscapes, from a British rose garden to a 50-foot-high replica of the Matterhorn. Despite wear and tear, the Peace Gardens remain captivating.
Chapman Library (577 S. 900 West): It’s interesting that Salt Lake City’s best locations are often its libraries, but easy to see why. The Chapman branch in Glendale provides a calming community space. With its Roman columns and arched glass windows, the library looks like a miniature cathedral. Inside, a children’s library contains tables for reading and a slide for easy entrance. It’s charming and reminiscent of the days when a kid walked to the library every week instead of playing with his Nintendo DS.