Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Descriptions of Early Salt Lake City

Quoted in the Republican Banner (Nashville, TN) on July 8th 1857 was an article by Frédéric Gaillardet who lived for a time in New York City writing articles on events in France for New York newspapers and on event s in the US for Paris newspapers. Originally written in French, the article was translated into English and reproduced in part. Below is an extract from the describing what we would know as Salt Lake City.

The colony chose a position extremely advantageous, upon the strait between the two lakes, and founded there the city of Deseret, a name which signifies “bee-hive” in the pretended “Reformed Egyptian” language. The aspect presented by this young city is very picturesque. It is divided into twenty quarters, each forming a separate inclosure (sic). The houses are built of adobe, or bricks dried in the sun, are only a single story, and are surrounded by gardens. The springs which descend from the mountains flow in little rivulets into the gardens and streets. The stores are numerous and elegant. The state house is 90 by 40 feet. The town is protected by a fortified inclosure (sic), and the number of inhabitants is about 30,000. The neighboring country is admirably cultivated, and returns with usury the products which are confided to it. The waterfall between the lakes is utilized for turning numerous mills.

Now I don’t know Salt Lake very well, but I see all kinds of errors in this article. Thoughts?

4 comments:

Amy said...

It's a little like reading through the chapter on the Mormons in Around the World in Eighty Days, just not as accurate as Verne. (Not that Verne was entirely accurate!)

I'm trying to imagine what two lakes Gaillardet could possibly have meant!

--Researcher

BruceC said...

Earlier in the article he refers to the two lakes as the Salt Lake and Utah Lake.

Amy said...

I finally got around to asking a SLC area native whether he would describe Salt Lake City as being between two lakes. The answer was, "No." If anything, he would reference Salt Lake City by the mountains and not lakes.

He said that you can't even see the Great Salt Lake from most of the places that would have been settled at this time. There are few or no places where you can see both the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake.

The only way that he thought that someone would describe Salt Lake City as being between two lakes is if you were squinting when you looked at a map. :-)

I'm enjoying your descriptions of forays into historical research.

--"Researcher"

BruceC said...

Thanks Researcher.

I was getting the impression that Frédéric Gaillardet never even went to Utah. With the stuff you added and the waterfall along what would be the Jordan River makes his claim of first hand knowledge less credible. He did spend some time in Texas, but was mostly in New York City with a side trip to Canada once to escape arrest for something. The article was vague.