The Great Saltair

Luisa Madadov


The Great Salt Lake is one of the largest lakes in the western hemisphere. The Great Saltair is located on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake. There are many concerts held throughout the year. Artists like Seven Lions, NGHTMRE, Julia Wolf, and more will be performing there this summer. 

The Saltair was built with two goals: the Saltair would provide a “wholesome place of recreation” and be a “Coney island of the West,” according to John S. McCormick’s article in the Utah History Encyclopedia. 

When the Saltair officially opened, its main attractions were swimming in the Great Salt Lake and dancing on its large dance floor. Even so, there were many more attractions like a giant roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, midway games, bicycle races, rodeos, bullfights, boat rides, firework displays, and hot air balloons. In the early 1920s, the Saltair was at the height of its popularity, according to John S McCormick from the Utah History Encyclopedia. 

Only five years later, it was burned to the ground. The structure was destroyed by fire for 26 hours; everything was destroyed except for the bathing pier, beach office, merry-go-round, and parts of the roller coaster. Because the building was so popular, it was rebuilt in 1926 (Saltair II). However, the resort did not regain its former popularity. 

After building a new Saltair, the stock market crashed. In 1933, the Great Depression caused Utah unemployment to be as high as 36%. The effect of the great depression led to high maintenance costs. The economy began decreasing. Then the Saltair closed six years later during World War II. Once the war was over, the Saltair opened up once again. Unfortunately,  it continued to struggle and was closed in 1958. 

In the 1970s, the pavilion was left abandoned after 1960 because of its failed efforts to save it. Fortunately, in 1981, a new pavilion was built near the site of the original one. Finally, in 1992, the Great Salt Lake Land Company bought the pavilion. After completely restoring the structure and adding a concert stage, they made it possible for local and national artists to perform. 

Truly, when the saltair was first built it was a moment for people to escape reality. The new Saltair sat empty for over a decade until the investors gave the site one last shot. In recent years, the Saltair has been used as backdrops in songs by popular artists and movies.