1893: CONEY ISLAND OF THE WEST
Construction of The Saltair Pavilion is Completed
Grover Cleveland Becomes President of The United States
The United States Supreme Court Legally Declared the Tomato to Be a Vegetable
Thomas Edison Finishes Construction of The First Motion Picture Studio
Gandi Commits His First Act of Civil Disobedience in India
The late 19th Century brought innovation, industry, and accomplishment to the world. With Thomas Edison’s groundbreaking electric power distribution system, the lights were on. Scott Joplin’s saucy ragtime sound pinked the ivory keys and surged new life into America’s dance floors. All eyes looked towards the stars as H. G. Wells took his great science fiction novels, like War of the Worlds, to print. But the last decade of the 19th century brought its share of problems as well. Mark Twain dubbed this era the Gilded age, citing the era’s seeming financial abundance, propped up on crime.
With the crackle of energy in the air, with America’s insatiable appetite for entertainment and culture, investors from the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad Company and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as “Mormons”) combined their resources to build one of the most unique lake resorts of all time: The Great Saltair.
Located on the southern shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, The Saltair Pavilion opened its doors for business in 1893. The girth of the resort rested on over 2,000 pylons, driven into the bed along the lakeshore. Many of the original posts can still be seen today, over a hundred years after the resort’s initial construction.
With many resorts of unseemly repute dotting the Salt Lake shoreline, the predominant Mormon population of the Salt Lake Valley called for a retreat that matched their conservative standards; the Great Saltair answered their call. Mormon couples could visit Saltair by taking a short train ride and dance the night away without becoming victims of indecorous rumors. This was due to the open and frequent supervision of activities at Saltair by prominent members of the Mormon Church. The Mormon Church, however, suffered some criticism for the sale of coffee and tea—both substances prohibited by church doctrine—and for opening the resort on Sundays.
Owners of Saltair enjoyed the popularity of the Western resort. From the beginning, the lake retreat was intended to be a counterpart to Coney Island. Its pylon bridge led thousands of patrons through its gigantic doors to countless days of lounging and swimming and countless nights of dancing and romance. Being one of the first amusement parks in America, it became the most popular family destination west of New York.