Utah November 02, 2015
This Utah Icon is Still There…But it’s Not the Same
Saltair, built along the south shores of the Great Salt Lake, has been a Utah icon since 1893. A third version of the pavilion stands today…but it’s just not the same as the original.
Architect Richard Kletting, the same architect who designed the Utah State Capitol, designed Saltair’s pavilion in the early 1890s. The bridge and pavilion perched above the water of the Great Salt Lake, resting on over 2,000 pilings. The cost to build Saltair was $350,000.
Saltair opened on Memorial Day, 1893 and was immediately popular. People rode the train 16 miles west of Salt Lake to get there. Families enjoyed basking on the beach, floating in the salty water, and riding the roller coaster, ferris wheel and merry-go-round. The resort was at peak popularity in the 1920s; over 500,000 people visited every year. A fire burnt the Saltair Pavilion to the ground on April 22, 1925.
Saltair was rebuilt in 1926. The new pavilion boasted the largest dance floor in the world; visitors flocked to the resort from all over the West to dance to the Big Bands. However, the second Saltair struggled with multiple challenges. Another fire in 1931 resulted in $100,000 in damage to the pavilion. The lake receded in 1933, which left the Saltair sitting a half mile away from the lake. The Great Depression and availability of cheaper entertainment, such as popular new radio shows, kept visitors home. Saltair closed in 1958, and sat vacant until it burned down in November, 1970.
The third (and current) Saltair was constructed in 1981. It flooded just a few months later, prompting an entire renovation to remove the silt and salt from the pavilion. It’s changed ownership a few times over the years, and sat vacant for much of the 1990s.
In 2005, new investors purchased Saltair for the purpose of creating an alternative concert venue. Bands such as Dave Matthews Band, Marilyn Manson and Panic at the Disco have played at Saltair. The venue still occasionally hosts concerts and raves.
Do you have memories of Saltair? Share them here!