Urban planners take a few lessons from Brigham Young and Joseph Smith

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  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    June 26, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    rhappahannock posted: I think a Billion dollar downtown development is a distraction for the church. The four missions of the church should be the focus. A billion dollar development is not the proper use of the church resources, as a prudent financial reserve does not require that much.

    You need to understand that there are various fiscal branches/arms to the Church. The City Creek Project did not come from the Church tithes. Rather, It came from the profits of investment which were in origin from a donation of a wealthy benefactor back in the 1920's. This investment has been further invested to grow it, so it can in turn do even more than what the 1 Billion could have ever done by itself. It's my understanding that one of the things this investment covers, is the stipends that those General Authorities who receive a stipend, comes from. The stipends do not come from general Church tithes. I can also envision them taking surplus funds and transfer to Church general fund, to cover things like the recent "explosion" in Missionary service, surely an expected huge financial burden.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    June 26, 2013 3:03 p.m.


    But Mannheim's streets are 36 feet wide including sidewalks. (according to GoogleEarth measurements) and are 2/3 lane one way streets.
    Only the downtown core is grid, urban sprawl messed up the rest of the area.

  • MrTuscadero Houston, TX
    June 1, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    No one wants cities laid out in grids any more. When the Mormons laid out the streets of SLC, they expedcted at that time that probably only Mormons would be residents there in large numbers, and that there would not be "undesirables" at large whose access to certain areas needed to be blocked. This was the same premise the Founders of the our republic had wehn they simply assumed that all future residents of the U.S. would be predominantly Europeans from enlightened countries where civil liberty had at least been imagined.

    The reason for all this is that, despite the warm fuzzies of brotherhood, and all that, for the most part, a diverse population ends up being a hotbed for crime, for the simple reason that every ethinc group, including the majority ehtnic group has a certain percentage of criminals in it, and mising them all togther just increases the crime in a way that looks as if the percentages of each group are simply added to get a combined percaentage for the total population. Politically incorrect, but true.

  • Gregg Weber SEATTLE, WA
    May 31, 2013 10:25 p.m.

    I think it was an H.G.Wells story set mostly in a future London that was a cube or a 3D rectangle. Didn't want to live there.
    Cities have many straight lines, while there are few in nature. (Look at a tree.)
    Other factors are energy of going up one level as compared to horizontal movement. Imagine taking a deck of 52 playing cards and placing them on a table side by side in both directions. How much energy does it take to go from one corner to the diagonal corner as compared to from the bottom card in a deck to the top?
    Take a block of land with a multi-story building on it. The land is worth $X/Sq foot. Now take each floor and place them side by side on the table. Is the land how covered by each one story building more or less expensive? Consideration for utilities and roads will add if more than one block is considered.
    All in all, I still wouldn't want to live in a large box.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 30, 2013 7:48 p.m.

    "The pursuit of Happiness is defined as real property with title."

    Baloney.... hog wash and total silliness. Land ownership is part of the American dream, but it is not essential nor required for the "pursuit of happiness".

    It may be a prerequisite for some, even many, but it is not a codified part requirement for either the quest or obtainment of happiness.

    That is part of what is wrong... making material positions requisite for happiness.

    Urban planning does not require anyone to live in urban settings. You want to go live amongst the trees... no one is stopping you. But the vast majority of high paying jobs are in urban areas, and to complain or imply that you can have a better standard of living where there is not planning is just bizarre.

    No one is taking your choice away. You want to live in a city... do so. If you don't... don't. No one is taking your freedoms away.

  • Mona Beaverton, OR
    May 30, 2013 4:15 p.m.

    In NW Oregon where I live, we have an Urban Growth Boundary which prevents sprawl. Development is severely restricted outside the UGB, meaning living density is higher inside the UGB and almost non-existent outside. Because of that we don't have the ugly sprawl of say, Phoenix or LA (or SL Valley). There is nothing wrong with dense living as long as you have open space incorporated also. Where I live there are bike & ped trails and mid-block crossings just for peds. Autos no longer rule the world here. And I love it. I can ride my bike for almost 20 miles without competing with autos on streets. And if I have to be on the street, there is a bike lane.

  • Mona Beaverton, OR
    May 30, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    The Rock: Yes there are highly populated areas with high crime rates. But it isn't the highly populated factor that magically creates a high crime rate. Crime is higher in places where people don't own the outdoor space. If a city is auto-oriented and laid out in such a way that people cannot safely navigate without their cars, then you are going to have a higher crime rate. If non-auto mobility is easy (trails, sidewalks, bike-paths, etc.), people will be out and about, and crime rates will be lower. I know. I live in western Oregon and this is what is happening here.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    May 30, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    Brigham Young and Joseph Smith designed cities with people and their futures in mind. Currently, much of the so called 'planning' is done with the developer and his/her profits as the primary driving force. There is little concern as to how a plan will effect a community much more than a few years down the road once the checks have cleared and the next project bid has been placed.

  • JDL Magna, UT
    May 30, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Doctrine & Covenants 104:17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

    The Prophetic vision of Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young was and is NOT Smart growth and new urbanism as described in this article. High density dwelling without possibility of producing for ones self is not smart and people are easily controlled by forces and circumstances.

    The Founders understood this very well and the Declaration of Independence says it succinctly. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

    The pursuit of Happiness is defined as real property with title. They knew liberty was at risk when people were dependent on others particularly government. King George was not about to give up his property to the Americans as it would render him impotent.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    May 30, 2013 1:27 p.m.

    I think a Billion dollar downtown development is a distraction for the church. The four missions of the church should be the focus. A billion dollar development is not the proper use of the church resources, as a prudent financial reserve does not require that much.

    Better the church run a one-room school in Africa, where it is desperately needed, than a billion dollar corporate real estate empire in downtown Salt Lake City. One contributes to the Church's central mission, the other a giant distraction that could be done by commercial entities.

    Look at the AA central office. They serve millions of people with a very small financial reserve. The money goes to serve people instead of building up a real estate empire that is hard to liquidate, and locks large amounts of resources into a non-spiritual entities.

    Some want to escape intellectual analysis and claim that everything the church does is perfect. Look at Bruce R. McConkie and Mormon Doctrine as pertaining to people holding the Priesthood. Just as McConkie was wrong on the priesthood, current leadership may be misguided on priorities. Building schools in Africa helps the church, and would be positive PR.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    May 30, 2013 12:42 p.m.

    We may not be a true agrarian society any longer but we still would do well with large tracts of arable land surrounding our cities of modest size. We'd all function better. But we seem to know better than that, which is why we'll continue to fail at urban planning like we do.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    May 30, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    Thankfully Joseph Smith and Brigham Young envisioned the need for "City Planning." That is the biggest lessson here. Although their plans were laregely for an agrarian society, much of what they envisioned can be adapted to today's urban society. Some of their thinking does not translate entirely, such as the large single family lots, but the wide right of ways and grid patterns translate well. To those who think Smart Growth is some kind of conspiracy, you are wrong. The principles of Smart Growth are basic City Planning principles that make for a more livable urban community. They have been around for many years and are logical principles for the urban society that we have become. The principles are sound and used extensively world wide for planning modern urban cities.

  • Dave D Spring Creek, NV
    May 30, 2013 12:14 p.m.


    Calling Craig Galli a wolf in sheep's clothing is laughable. Craig makes a straightforward case for why every Latter-day Saint should be an environmentalist. That is not to say that every Latter-day Saint has to take a liberal approach to environmental issues, but that every member of the Church should do his or her part to treat the earth and its resources as a wise steward, and influence institutions to do the same.

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    May 30, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    If Ernest T Bass does not see the "anti-freedom" aspects of Agenda 21, he is either in agreement that man is not capable of governing themselves and needs to be under the control of "centralized planning", for their own good and for good of the planet and the collective, of course, or he has not bothered to read the actual UN document for himself and is content to take the "urban planners" word for it that all is unicorns and lollipops in Zion. Educate yourself.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 30, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    "proves that they have no concept of prophetic city designs."

    My goodness. Cant anything just be the work of a smart guy?

    Why does everything have to be labeled "prophetic"?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 30, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    19th century urban planning models of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young may have been practical for their times. In today's world, light rail and rapid transit carry more weight with city planners than making a street wide enough for an ox team and wagon to make a circle.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 30, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    I have to laugh at the comment about "god never intended people to live in Rabbit Hutches". Good grief... has the writer of that never visited "the holy lands"? It at the time of Christ was Rabbit Hutch central... and not much has changed.

  • Oldy Glocks Orem, UT
    May 30, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    The title of the article caught my attention as I knew that there is no way to imagine that Salt Lake and other cities are following the plan of Brigham and Joseph which were both genius in design and concept.
    Seeing folks prattle about how things can no longer be that way due to dense populations, simply proves that they have no concept of prophetic city designs.
    Obviously they have no concept of the State of Deseret which would have included parts of 5 more states and were in the plan of Brigham.
    After being chased from every state they had settled in, upon arriving in the Utah Territory of Mexico, they began soon after to badger Brigham and John Taylor to press for statehood.They had to abandon several practices including their own political party and the plans of Deseret extending to San Diego was also given up.
    Satan's plan is well in force in the design of cities.
    To hear folks claim that we are not an agrarian society merely proves that we lost the rights to that long ago, but not the NEED.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 30, 2013 10:37 a.m.

    Agenda 21 being anti-freedom....someone is being deceived and has too much time on their hands for bitterness.

  • DickG Mesa, AZ
    May 30, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    The best part of the Salt Lake valley is from North Temple to 9th South and 8th West to 9th East. Wide navigable streets accommodating multiple use. Move outside those boundaries and you get narrow pathways that are barely useful for one mode of transportation. Trying to solve this problem with Bangerter Highway and the new Mountain View Corridor is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    May 30, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    There is certainly no shortage of wolves in sheep's clothing in SLC. Using Joseph Smith to put the stamp of approval on UN Agenda 21 and it's policies is disgraceful and beyond the pale!! If the proponents of "smart growth" really cared about the people of SLC, private property rights, and freedom more than they cared about the ICLIE money, Federal compliance monies and status received for being good little "yes men" , they would be doing everything they could to rid the city of Agenda 21 policies instead of doubling down on implantation of them. Calling it "Urban Planning" doesn't change what it is. Educate yourselves on what "smart growth" and "sustainable development" as defined in Agenda 21 really is. Again, using Joseph Smith to push this anti-freedom agenda is disgraceful and is the absolute antithesis of what Joseph Smith believed in. Shame on you!!

  • Gregorio Norco, CA
    May 30, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    American ingenuity in the planning of cities by these two leaders reminds me when JFK called for us to put a man on the moon. Young people all over the country grew enthusiastic about studying physics, engineering, and the space sciences. We became a more technically proficient people. And we became the first nation on earth to put a man on the moon.
    From wagons turning around in a city street to SLC using multi-use streets with street cars, bikes, pedestrians and cars is just another example of derring-do, and faith in providence helping us see into the future needs of this country.

  • Jacob_Z Brigham City, UT
    May 30, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    Mannheim, Germany, is laid out in a grid. On Wikipedia there are a couple of images where you can see it, one from 1758.

  • Dave D Spring Creek, NV
    May 30, 2013 9:13 a.m.


    It's true. Joseph Smith envisioned communities of no more than 20,000 people. But he did not envision sprawl. Joseph's City of Zion plat and urban design patterns were thought up with buffer areas in mind. Large parcels allowed for citizens to grow much of their own food, while the outside of each city is where farms were. Farmers were to live in the city in order to take part in community life. I recommend taking a look at Craig Galli's BYU Studies article on the subject. He goes into much greater detail concerning the commonalities of Joseph's City of Zion plat and Smart Growth.

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    May 30, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    As someone who lives in an urban environment with a great deal of crime, it would help to have "urban planning". Here in the Midwest, August Busch was the force behind the modern development of an urban giant. Sadly, even Macy's last week "threw in the towel". This city could look favorably toward the model of development used by Salt Lake.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    May 30, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    It's about the jobs.
    Where do you go every day? For most of us it isn't downtown.
    Urban planning is a pipe dream unless the jobs are centralized. They aren't.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 30, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    This is a topic in which I have had a long term interest. Some of the principles of 19th Century planning implemented in SLC are certainly good, but there are some drawbacks. The fact that SLC has had to adapt to changing times is an indicator that the system was not perfect. And I've never really considered the Utah model as all that pedestrian friendly. Orderly, yes. Interesting, not as much. Further, the concept of religious freedom in terms of city planning borders is absurd. This speech seems to contain a certain amount of pandering to the local audience.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    May 30, 2013 7:57 a.m.


    I've lived on 3 cul-de-sacs with my family. I would never live (if I had the choice) on a through street. I know we've all gotten hooked on our cars but at a certain point, cities are MORE liveable if they have some areas blocked off to traffic where you get out and walk. It improves business (which is why people built malls and are now back to village style open areas like City Creek) and makes a visit to a town or city center more enjoyable than if your only access to shops and restaurants is across 6 lanes of traffic. Try going to a town like DC or Boston or virtually any city in Europe where they have these features and you will see it improves the quality of life.

    Get out of your car and walk once in a while. You'll enjoy the fresh air, meet more people and be healthier...

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 30, 2013 7:51 a.m.

    I would not blame the modern idea of high density housing in multiple use complexes on prophets of God. God never intended people to live in rabbit hutches. There is a reason that highly populated areas experience massive crime.

  • JDL Magna, UT
    May 30, 2013 6:49 a.m.

    I agree that Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young were visionary in their concepts of city planning and they intended for people to be independent and self sustaining all the time owning land of their own for that very purpose.

    I have a very hard time buying into the idea that Smart growth or new urbanism as taught in the universities today is what Joseph Smith saw in vision, in fact it's a blatant misrepresentation.

    New urbanism is an urban planning and transportation theory strait out of the UN ajenda-21 and it's local partner, Envision Utah that concentrates growth in compact pedestrian-friendly, urban centers to avoid sprawl. It also advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.

    Daybreak is NOT what Joseph Smith or Brigham Young had in mind. Try planting a garden or a fruit tree without HOA's approval let alone in a 500 sf back yard. Try getting anything past the HOA that would provide for your self sufficiency.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    May 30, 2013 6:17 a.m.

    The wide streets are the best part of the Zion plan.
    Once these planners step outside of these conferences into reality...
    ...people aren't farmers any longer.
    ...their jobs are spread out over a wide area.
    ...spouses go in different directions to work.
    ...transit lines cannot follow people around to these scattered workplaces.
    ...biking is not an option for most due to distance and weather.
    These conferences ignore the reality and point to City Center as though it were a panacea. A plan like that can never accommodate large numbers of moderate-income people.
    The ship they talk of has sailed.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 30, 2013 4:42 a.m.

    One thing to keep in mind.

    Brigham Young was certainly a smart guy. But dont discount the fact that he had a clean slate to work with and a completely obedient group that he could dictate to.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    May 29, 2013 11:50 p.m.

    "European-style" grid? I know of no cities in Europe with such a design. In fact, no city or town built before the automobile has much of a grid style as streets followed the roads connecting to other towns and cities and followed the rivers or valleys.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    May 29, 2013 11:27 p.m.

    Planners need to keep the grid system and get rid of narrow streets, one-way streets, round-abouts, and culdesacs. A true grid gives multiple options for moving people from point A to point B. Interesting that modern planners think so highly of Brigham's model, yet call multiple cities touching each other "sprawl." Joseph said cities should not get too large yet today's planners want to compact millions into a little bit of space and make everyone "walk." They pay lip service but go against the very principles these two leaders espoused in city designs. Just look at how the streets around the Symphony Hall are practically useless because of TRAX, no right turn lanes, single lane streets, etc. TRAX should have gone into West Temple and not ruined Main Street, as well as 2nd South and South Temple going east (running opposite directions), not decimating 4th South. And the outlying areas got away from compass points to orient the streets. Brigham would turn over in his grave if he could see the mess of today's enlightened planning.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 29, 2013 8:07 p.m.

    I look at the ad hoc mess towns like Lehi have become, I really do with they city fathers (and mothers) would take their lead from those who did take their jobs in generations past seriously. It is disconnected business/strip mall after another. There is no reason for it other than lazy planning and bending over backwards to appease businesses that don't have the communities best interest at heart.

    Brigham Young proved that under even extreme circumstance, proper planning can be leveraged all the while encouraging economic growth.... what is going on today is a cocktail of greed and laziness.