I walked straight North, last night, from hotel to the State Capitol Building, located at the highest point in the city. Like the temple, the capitol is built from immaculate white stone and lit brightly every night. I briefly wondered if this resulted from some sort of church-state rivalry.
I don’t think I saw a single other pedestrian on the way, and when I reached the steps I was entirely alone. I had the entire site to myself, and a view of city lights to the Utah-flat horizon. Even in the perpetual fog, it is an inspiring view.
Strangely enough, the capitol building was open, and so I wandered in. The interior is one vast hollow space, faced in stone except for murals. A tour group was there, maybe a high school field trip, but it was impossible to find them from the sound.
I wandered down the other side of the capitol’s hill, through a neighborhood of humble houses, then back across the city. From this direction I had more luck finding inhabited streets, passing maybe eight restaurants and a few pedestrians.
I ate dinner at a bar where the tender confirmed that this time of year is unusually slow, and that no one really lives in Salt Lake proper anyway. I hadn’t thought to look it up. Wikipedia confirms that about 180,000 people live in Salt Lake City, and about 1.2 million in the metro area, between Worcester, MA and Newport News, VA in the list of US cities by size. It’s also less than a third as many people as in Boston, spread over twice the area.