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CENTRAL CITY, LIBERTY PARK, 9TH & 9TH
The neighborhoods surrounding Liberty Park and 9th & 9th are always surprising. With the recent revamp of Trolley Square as well as 9th & 9th, this area is worth exploring. It has long been home to college students as well as alternative and artistic types. Liberty Park, remarkably grand in scale, has an aviary, unique playgrounds and excellent picnic areas. Its greenhouse provides the flora for the city’s hanging planters and flowerpots. The 900 East and 900 South intersection always bubbles with regulars. The ever-popular Coffee Garden overflows with caffeine addicts and aspiring writers alike. The street recently installed multicolored bike racks, a nod to its surprisingly heavy traffic of bicyclists—fixed gear or beach cruiser, they’re not particular. This is an energetic and social neighborhood; recluses beware.
Gilgal Garden (749 E. 500 South): It really couldn’t get any weirder. Gilgal Garden, formerly simply the back yard of an—to say the least—eccentric sculptor, Thomas Child Jr. depicts the farthest spectrum of Mormon art. Imagine Joseph Smith’s face on the body of a Sphinx and Book of Mormon passages engraved in stone, and you’ve got the idea. Child once asked, “Can I create a sanctuary or atmosphere in my yard that will shut out fear and keep one’s mind young and alert to the last, no matter how perilous the times?” The answer, Mr. Child, is yes—except for the fear part. The sculptures, after all, are bizarre.
10 (870 E. 900 South): Streetwear has swept the world. In Los Angeles, neon-striped Nike Air Force Ones grace the feet of the fashion savvy; in Reykjavik, boys amass basketball jerseys and oversize patterned caps. Even Sonic Youth has gotten in on the action; they’re currently designing a limited edition Nike sneaker. Face it: street-style is cool. Salt Lake City joins the style surge with this petite store tucked neatly beside the Tower Theatre. 10’s pristine, minimalist shelves are packed with punch. There are sneakers for every boy and girl and an extremely pleasing sale rack. Shouts of joy, be heard the world over.
Cocoa Caffe (282 E. 900 South): Specializing in Italian hot chocolate (though the coffee and baked goods are delicious, too), this café fits perfectly in a city with a huge sweet tooth. There are even frozen cocoas for hot days. The adjacent Chanon Thai is a great stop for a meal before or after.
Tower Theatre and Video Rental (876 E. 900 South): The Tower Theatre and its sister, the Broadway Centre Cinemas, offer affordable independent films, but the Tower also has one of the most diverse rental collections in the city. See a movie; take a few Woody Allen films home with you.
FOOTHILLS AND SUGAR HOUSE
Sugar House was officially established in 1853, only six years after Brigham Young entered Salt Lake Valley. Named for a never-completed sugar mill, the area, ironically, never produced sugar. Until 1951, the first Utah prison stood where SugarHouse Park exists today. Now prison-free, SugarHouse Park caters to a more carefree audience—its steep hills are a favorite sledding location for children. Despite the neighborhood’s many economic upheavals, Sugar House was known of late for its blocks of colorful and eclectic independent boutiques. Many were sent packing recently to make way for a major redevelopment in the heart of Sugar House. It’s hard to say what the final look will be, but displaced shopkeepers hope you’ll seek them out in their new locations. The Foothills, located east of Sugar House, share an appreciation of independent business. The neighborhoods meet at 15th East & 15th South, another favorite shopping and dining haunt in the city.
Hidden Hollow: Tucked neatly behind Wild Oats, Barnes & Noble and Bed, Bath and Beyond of the the Sugar House Commons mall, this nature area was the pet project of a 1997 Westminster College biology class. At the simplest, it’s a preserved plot of trees. On a more complex level, Hidden Hollow provides a learning experience for elementary-school students, a home to rare bird species and an ironic juxtaposition between the spread of national chain stores and land often paved to make their parking lots.
Dancing Cranes (673 Simpson Ave.): This store is a quintessential import treasure trove. It carries a hodgepodge of goods, including wooden carved furniture, mudcloth fabrics, and belly dancing costumes. Incense permeates the air. How lovely. Even lovelier, everything is affordable, including the imported jewelry.
India Unlimited (1615 S. Foothill Dr.): This Indian grocery store not only sells Indian spices and imports, but, best of all, has a wonderful Bollywood rental library.
Caitlin Warchol, a sophomore at Occidental College in Los Angeles, is City Weekly’s editor Holly Mullen daughter.