Murray, Utah: Wikis


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Murray, Utah
—  City  —
Murray City Hall

Location of Murray, Utah
Coordinates: 40°39′9″N 111°53′36″W / 40.6525°N 111.89333°W / 40.6525; -111.89333Coordinates: 40°39′9″N 111°53′36″W / 40.6525°N 111.89333°W / 40.6525; -111.89333
Country  United States
State  Utah
County Salt Lake
Settled 1848
Incorporated 1903
Named for Eli Houston Murray
 - Mayor Dan Snarr
 - Total 9.6 sq mi (24.9 km2)
 - Land 9.6 sq mi (24.9 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 4,301 ft (1,311 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 34,024
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 385, 801
FIPS code 49-53230[1]
GNIS feature ID 1443742[2]

Murray is a city in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is part of the Salt Lake City, Utah Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 34,024 at the 2000 census. Murray is known for its central location in Salt Lake County, as well as home to the Intermountain Medical Center and extensive park system.





Before being permanently established by Mormon pioneers in 1848, the area where Murray City is presently located was a natural area that served as the seasonal home of Piute, Shoshone, and Bannock Native American tribes, who camped along local creek banks and stream beds during their migrations. Artifacts of Native American encampments have been located along the Jordan River, including camps near Willow Pond Park.[3]

A new settlement

The Mormon pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. A pioneer group called the Mississippi Saints arrived one year later and began to develop a scattered settlement in the south end of the valley that fall. The area was distinguished by various names, such as the Mississippi Ward, Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and South Cottonwood. Written history states that at least 20 families were living in the South Cottonwood area in the 1860s.

When the first pioneer families settled in the South Cottonwood area in the fall of 1848, they selected the low or bottom lands along the streams of Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Creeks where they found an abundance of grass for their cattle and horses. It was easy to take the water from the streams for irrigation of farm crops. The higher bench lands were covered with sagebrush and produced very little grass. Because of the labor and difficulty in getting water to them, they were left, in most instances, for later settlement.[4]

There was a strip of high bench land, completely surrounded by low land north of what is now Vine Street and 5600 South Street. Before and after the advent of the pioneers, this land was used by the Ute Indians as a camping ground, as water and grass could be obtained on either side of it and enemies could not approach without being seen long before coming to the high ground.[4] This area would become the present-day Murray City Cemetery. The early settlers mutually agreed that no individual should fence or take title to it, but that it should be set aside and considered as belonging to South Cottonwood Ward.

The Sons of Utah Pioneer's South Cottonwood Monument

In 1853, when teamsters commenced to haul granite rock from Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Salt Lake Temple, a dirt path was made along what is now Vine Street. The east side of the road (at the northeast corner, where the Stillwater Apartments now stand) became a halfway camping ground for the teamsters.[4]

The area remained agricultural until 1869 when a body of ore was found in Park City and additional ore was found in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Because of its central location and access to the railroad, the first smelter was built in Murray in 1870 and Murray became the home of some of the largest smelters in the region over the next 30 years.

The first official post office was established in 1870 as the South Cottonwood Post Office. The area changed over time as the railroad came in, smelting expanded, the territorial road (later known as State Street) was established, and trolley transportation was developed. A business district also began to develop along the transportation corridor. (See also Murray Downtown Historic District and Murray Downtown Residential Historic District.)

The city received its present name from the post office, which had officially changed its name from South Cottonwood Post Office to Murray Post Office in 1883, after the Civil War general, Eli Murray, territorial governor of Utah from 1880 to 1886.

After a riot and fire were started by a rowdy group of smelter workers in a local saloon, the fight for incorporation was begun by the local newspaper editor. The final incorporation committee drafted a petition in 1901 and created an intense campaign on both sides of the incorporation battle. The election took place on November 18, 1902. Those in favor won, and C.L. Miller was elected Mayor by three votes. Salt Lake County recognized the election results as official on November 25, 1902, and the city was officially recognized as a Third Class City by the State of Utah on January 3, 1903.

Center of industry

Murray's landmark smoke stacks, circa 1920's

Murray’s central location in Salt Lake Valley made it a convenient location for industry. Construction of the Woodhill Brothers' smelter in 1869 initiated Murray's industrial history. Murray produced the first silver bars smelted in Utah in 1870. In 1899, American Smelting & Refining Company (ASARCO) was organized by combining the Germania and Hanauer smelters. The smelters continued to dominate the local economy until the close of the ASARCO lead smelter in 1949. Business and commercial enterprise prospered along with the smelter industry. Murray's industry would later include a water plant, lighting system, canning factory, flour mills, and brickyards.[5] Joe Hill, the I.W.W. labor activist came to Murray in 1914 to rally laborers working at the smelters and nearby mines. He was arrested for a double homicide in Salt Lake City while recovering from a gunshot wound at the Murray home of Edward and John Eselius, that was located on 4800 South (then known as 17th South St.) and Plum Street.[6]

Murray's industry was hard hit by the 1930’s depression. The smelters began to close in 1931, and major industry had all but vanished by 1940. Murray was quick to take advantage of various federal projects to compensate for this economic loss.[5] In 2000, to avoid designation as a Superfund site, the landmark ASARCO Smelters were imploded, and Intermountain Healthcare purchased the site for its Intermountain Medical Center. As landmarks, the smelters are remembered in Murray City’s logos and trademarks.

Post-World War II to present

With the demise of heavy industry prior to World War II, and the advent of the Interstate Freeway System in the 1950s, Murray became a major retail hub due to its central location.[7]

State Street is dominated by automobile dealerships. Auto magnate, Larry H. Miller, purchased his first dealership May 1, 1979, as Larry H. Miller Toyota.

Fashion Place Mall was constructed in the 1970s. It is now a major mercantile center, which had major renovation and expansion in the 2000s. (Sidelight: serial killer Ted Bundy's murder spree temporarily came to an end when he tried to lure Carol DaRonch into his car at the mall November 8, 1974. DaRonch fought Bundy, escaped from his car, and survived to testify against him in court.)

Cottonwood Hospital opened in the 1960s, receiving numerous recognitions. It was replaced by Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in 2008, and spawned The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in the 1990s.[8]

Murray's Fireclay Neighborhood

As part of the construction of the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) TRAX light-rail line in the 1990s, three stations were built in Murray along the primary route. The Fireclay Housing Project received national recognition for its use of creating development around the Murray North station as a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).[9] Murray’s Fashion Place West station will be the junction to the Mid-Jordan Line light-rail spur. The city is scheduled to have a high-speed rail (FrontRunner) station in the 2010s, that will transform the Murray Central station into an intermodal hub.

In the mid-2000s, people of the census-designated place (CDP), Cottonwood West, petitioned for annexation into Murray,[10] increasing the population by 17,000, nearly one-third more than in the 2000 census. Murray’s eastern boundary, along 900 East, was extended as a result of the annexation to Van Winkle Expressway and Highland Drive, along the city borders of Holladay and Cottonwood Heights.

Geography and climate

Murray is located at 40°39′9″N 111°53′36″W / 40.6525°N 111.89333°W / 40.6525; -111.89333 (40.652397, -111.893229)[11].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.6 square miles (24.9 km²), all of it land.

Climate data for Murray, UT
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Average high °F (°C) 39
Average low °F (°C) 25
Record low °F (°C) 8
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.58
Source: [12]


The Murray City School District was created on January 1, 1906. It has ten schools: seven elementaries, two middle schools, (Riverview and Hillcrest), and one senior high school (Murray). An alternative high school, (Creekside) was closed in 2006. Murray High is a 5-A school in Utah's 5 Division high school sports leagues (1A being the smallest, and 5A being the largest). It was used in the High School Musical movie series for the Walt Disney Company.

When residents on the eastern boundary of Murray annexed themselves into the city in 2004, three Granite School District schools were included: Cottonwood High School, Twin Peaks Elementary, and Woodstock Elementary. No school district boundaries were changed due to this annexation.

Murray also has satellite campuses of the University of Utah and Utah State University. Several private colleges have campuses in Murray: University of Phoenix, Stevens-Henager College, and Eagle Gate College.

Parks and recreation

Murray Park Gazebo and Little Cottonwood Creek‎

Murray was quick to take advantage of various federal projects during the Great Depression to develop its Park System. The city actively sought federal money to refurbish its twenty-two-acre Murray City Park and buildings and to purchase an additional twelve acres of fairgrounds. By 1939, Murray was the site of the annual Salt Lake County Fair.[13] The county fair relocated from Murray Park, and the Fair buildings were replaced by a community recreation facility called the Park Center, with indoor swimming pools, indoor track, exercise facilities and gymnasium. Murray Park’s Ken Price Ball Park hosted the 2009 Babe Ruth League World Series. Murray Park is adjacent to the Salt Lake County Ice Center that was utilized as a practice venue during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

In addition to many other neighborhood parks, there is the substantial Murray Jordan River Parkway; a park system of natural trails along the Jordan River that includes pedestrian and equestrian trails, picnic areas, and canoe launches. The trails connect several significant city parks of Winchester, Walden Park, Germania Park, and Arrowhead. The parkway also has the The Kennecott Nature Center, an environmental education center that is utilized by school districts.

Wheeler Historic Farm is also located in Murray. Operated by Salt Lake County, the farm is a restoration of Henry J. Wheeler’s turn-of-the-century dairy farm. The farm presents to the public the history of Utah family agriculture and rural lifestyle from 1890–1920, and gives historic demonstrations and exhibits.


Murray City's Carnegie Library in 1912

The City of Murray is one of the few municipalities in Utah that has its own library.[14] Murray's library exists outside the Salt Lake County library system, with which it has a lending agreement with the county along with the Salt Lake City library system. The Library started as one of the Carnegie libraries and came into existence on January 6, 1911. Murray would create an additional small library along with this one.

In 1992, Murray consolidated its two libraries into a new center that would permit it to have more books, include a small amphitheater for children, study spaces, and conference rooms. The historic Carnegie building on Vine Street would be preserved as a building for Mount Vernon Academy and be part of the Murray Downtown Historic District.[15] The new library would go through a further renovation in 2008 adding significant electronic media resources and Wi-Fi access throughout the building.

Arts and culture

Desert Star Playhouse

Murray is home to several professional and amateur performing-arts groups. Notably, the Desert Star Playhouse, located in the historic Iris Theatre is noted for its community-based plays and melodramas.[16] The historic Murray Theatre host a variety of performing acts, primarily music, throughout the year, and has sometimes hosted screenings for the Slamdance Film Festival.[17] The city sponsored Murray Park Amphitheatre produces plays in the outdoor setting of Murray Park during the summer.

The Murray Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is a community based orchestra of both professional and amateur musicians. The MSO is volunteer-based and receives funding from Murray City and Salt Lake County. MSO also features jazz and string combos.[18]

The Ballet Centre in Murray features ballet performances, with training for children and adults. The Murray Arts Centre features ballroom dancing in addition to modern styles of dance on a daily basis, and has live big band and jazz combo accompaniment.[18]

In 1992, the Murray City Cultural Arts program was created under the Parks and Recreation Department. Together, the Arts Advisory Board and the Cultural Programs Office have created year-round cultural activities including arts-in-education projects, workshops and camps, musicals, visual art exhibits and competitions involving over 5000 youth and adults annually. A summer and winter season, created together with local performing arts organizations, have been successfully operating since 1990. Murray Arts in the Park entertains over 13,000 patrons each summer.[18]

Historic architecture

Murray's historic downtown, circa 1920

Murray has several buildings and districts listed on the National Park Service's National Historic Register:


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 3,302
1910 4,057 22.9%
1920 4,584 13.0%
1930 5,172 12.8%
1940 5,740 11.0%
1950 9,006 56.9%
1960 16,806 86.6%
1970 21,206 26.2%
1980 25,750 21.4%
1990 31,282 21.5%
2000 34,024 8.8%
Est. 2008 46,010 35.2%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 34,024 people, 12,673 households, and 8,719 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,542.3 people per square mile (1,367.0/km²). There were 13,327 housing units at an average density of 1,387.5/sq mi (535.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.56% White, 0.99% African American, 0.63% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.33% Pacific Islander, 2.77% from other races, and 1.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.49% of the population.

There were 12,673 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.2% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.24.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,569, and the median income for a family was $51,482. Males had a median income of $35,636 versus $25,713 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,094. About 5.5% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.4% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.

Sister cities

Murray has one sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

Notable residents


In the media

See also


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Mary Ann Kirk, Between the Cottonwoods - A Murray History Children's Workbook (1995)
  4. ^ a b c Kate B. Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Vol. 20, pp. 161-164; originally written 1 October 1946 by William B. Erekson for Cottonwood Camp, Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
  5. ^ a b Raymond R. Rasmussen, History of Murray, State of Utah (1936)
  6. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon. The Case of Joe Hill. International Publishers Co, 1966 ISBN 0717800229, 9780717800223
  7. ^ “Murray’s economic growth looks promising” Erin McShay, Valley Journals, March 2009
  8. ^ COTTONWOOD HOSPITAL (Modern Healthcare magazine names top 100 hospitals). Utah Business, 01 May 2001
  9. ^ "Riding Rails to Big Rewards, Development booms around Utah’s rapid transit stations." Keith Schneider, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. 4 May 2007
  10. ^ Amy Joi Bryson, Murray gets OK to annex 4 areas Debate heats up on unincorporated areas of the county. The Deseret Morning News, Nov. 27, 2001
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ "Average Weather for Murray, UT - Temperature and Precipitation". Retrieved 28 July 2009. 
  13. ^ Murray City Corporation, History of Murray City (1976)
  14. ^ "Murray Library is a popular place these days." Jennifer W. Sanchez. The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 July 2009
  15. ^ Sheila Sanchez. "NEW LIBRARY FOR MURRAY GETS THE GREEN LIGHT." Deseret News, 12 April 1990.
  16. ^ Ann W. Engar, Theater in Utah, Utah History Encyclopedia, accessed 06 May 2007
  17. ^ "Murray Theatre Will Offer Live Presentations", Deseret News, 30 October 1992, Page W3
  18. ^ a b c Development of the Arts in Murray City. Murray Arts Advisory Board 2008
  19. ^ Jack Anderson, Daryl Gibson. Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account Macmillan, 2000 ISBN 0312874979
  20. ^ Kim Peek, Murray man who inspired 'Rain Man', dies. Kathy Stephenson. The Salt Lake Tribune December 22, 2009
  21. ^ Murray High teen moving up on 'Idol'". Associated Press (Desert News). 2008-02-15.,5143,695253386,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  22. ^ "Disney moment for Murray, Highland," Deseret Morning News

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