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Ogden has landed spot among best U.S. cities

Published: Tuesday, July 8 2008 12:07 a.m. MDT

OGDEN — When you used to think of a city in Utah that badly needed a change, you didn't need to look further than Ogden.

The once-bustling railroad city faded from grandeur for a time.

David Orgill temporarily moved his family to Ogden from West Jordan in May, and when he told friends he was headed to Ogden, they worried for his safety.

"It's been great," Orgill says. "It's not like what I had heard."

The city is undergoing a renaissance, and not just Utahns are taking note.

Outside magazine, a men's magazine aimed at promoting adventure travel, an active lifestyle, healthy living and enjoying the great outdoors, has listed Ogden as one of the best reinvented cities in the United States.

The August issue of the magazine hits racks today, and inside, readers will find a glowing tribute to Ogden and its metamorphosis into an adventure-sports capital.

Ogden ranked No. 3 in the magazine's analysis behind Washington, D.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Jeremy Spencer, the magazine's senior editor, said Monday that Ogden was an obvious choice to be ranked among such cities as the nation's capital; Portsmouth, N.H.; Tacoma, Wash.; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Louisville, Ky.

The last time Spencer came to Utah to visit Moab, he came through Ogden, because he had heard great things about it.

What he found were people working to revitalize Ogden to take advantage of its proximity to the outdoors. And it was working.

"These are my kind of people," Spencer said.

The cities the magazine ranked were vetted by a large group of editors and writers over the past few months, but the major requirement for each city's placement was that it was overcoming obstacles.

Washington, D.C., has its crime rate, and Chattanooga, Tacoma and Ithaca had nearly abandoned downtowns.

But each city has found a way to incorporate nature into its revitalization.

"I love Washington, D.C.," Spencer said. "The capital has really turned things around."

According to the magazine, the city launched the nation's first bike-share program, and then there's the 3-mile run along the National Mall, 40 miles of urban trails in Rock Creek Park and Class V rapids upstream in Great Falls.

Kurt Horspool and Lindsay Call, both of North Ogden, said Ogden didn't have much to offer before the Junction at the Salomon Center opened.

"It was like a dead town, I would say," Horspool said outside of the Junction. "You had to to go to Salt Lake for a setup like this."

Call said she appreciates the Junction because it has the allure of Salt Lake's Gateway mall, with its outdoor shopping.

"It makes you want to stay in Ogden," Horspool said.

Horspool and Call hope more restaurants are on their way to Ogden, as well as high-end clothing stores.

Dave Morgan, an Ogden resident since 1985, said downtown Ogden had a dirty feel before the city began its rebirth.

"It's changed tremendously," Morgan said. "It's nice to come downtown now."

Two kayak parks have been built in Ogden, and the Junction features a climbing wall, vertical wind tunnel and a standing surf wave. Plans for Ogden's future include a year-round ice tower, aquatic centers and a velodrome, the magazine states.

Jeryl Detmer, an Outside subscriber, is quoted in the magazine as saying, "Don't tell too many people about it."

"Sorry, Jeryl," Spencer says.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com

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