We downsized a while back, selling the big, old family home where we had raised our nine children and spending part of our rare non-traveling time in downtown Salt Lake City.
The “downtown” part is a modest condo at City Creek.
Except when we lived in Boston as students and in London as missionaries, this is the first time we have lived right in the commercial part of a city.
And it is great!
To be able to walk across the street to the symphony is a dream for me (Linda) and to cross just two streets to get to a Jazz game is my (Richard’s) idea of a good time.
Most of our speaking and writing travel takes us to big urban centers here and there and around the world and, if you want our opinion, there is not a better, cleaner, more convenient, more classy downtown anywhere than right here in Salt Lake City.
When we go to the airport, we just hop on TRAX. When we want to eat out or see a movie, we can walk. When we feel we should go to the temple (often, since we see it out our window for a reminder), we just walk across the crosswalk.
And when we want to shop (about once a year for me — Richard — but considerably more often for me — Linda) there is the beautiful mall at City Creek.
So as we sit here, looking out our window, we feel some powerful gratitude for two great prophets — first for Brigham Young, who had the vision to carve out this community in the middle of the desert.
His Beehive House is a block away, the Tabernacle is across the street and his presence and influence hang over our whole existence here.
And second, our gratitude goes to President Gordon B. Hinckley. How would this downtown look had it not been for the vision of this modern prophet? It seems almost hard to remember, but just a few years ago, this area was in serious decline. Despite some marvelous stores, the two downtown malls were fading fast, the streets were a bit shabby, shops and stores were going out of business, and more and more of us went to the suburbs to shop and be entertained.
The new Gateway Mall helped, but Temple Square was in danger of sitting right in the middle of increasing urban decay. The temple block looked like it might become a bit like a little museum with a historic temple and a much-too-small pioneer tabernacle surrounded by a declining part of town.
President Hinckley’s vision, however, changed all that. He championed the building of the magnificent Conference Center, one of the most unique and magnificent gathering places in the world.
And then, fulfilling his vision, the LDS Church’s Property Reserve Inc., in partnership with Taubman Centers, built what is arguably the most beautiful mall in America.
It looks to us as though President Hinckley and his vision are proving the saying, “Build it and they will come.”