Historic Downtown Murray Utah

Last March, I had this great idea about traveling all over Utah and taking photos of the towns. I made an Excel spreadsheet about what towns to visit, and I even registered a blog to document my adventures. Almost a year later, the blog is still empty and the pictures are sitting unshared and lonely in my external hard drive. I finally just decided to share them here.

When I was thinking about moving back to Utah, one of my “cons” was that it’s a familiar place – the place where I grew up. And one thing that I loved so much about New Orleans was that everything was new. In reality, though, probably 90% of Utah is unfamiliar to me. I mostly stick to the Salt Lake Valley, so you would think that I’d start my project outside of that corridor. However, the thought behind my Utah project was that it would be a way to look at Utah with new eyes – even the most familiar places. To get my project rolling (all the way back in April!), I spent a Saturday morning wandering through Historic Downtown Murray.

Let’s get a little context. Here’s a map (I love maps!):

So why start off with Murray? I think it’s because I never realized what a cute little downtown it has until recently. Where the cities within the Salt Lake Valley tend to blur together and it’s unclear where one ends and the other begins, Murray actually has a distinctive space. So as you can see from the map above, Murray is actually quite large and covers a lot of area. I decided to focus on a stretch of State Street that is considered Murray’s Historic Downtown.

It’s really quite small – only about two blocks. First, here’s the east side of the street (well, most of it).

And here’s the west side.

I didn’t realize until I was walking along the street how much Murray focuses on the Arts. There’s a whole Arts Centre, not to mention places for dancing and a few theaters. Murray also hosts theater productions in Murray Park.

I know the next building isn’t historical, but it deserves to be included because it has the best Mexican fast food ever.

One of the defining features of Murray is Murray City Park. It’s huge and it has playgrounds and a swimming pool and lots of spots for people to take family/bridal/engagement photos (I saw a few of those that April morning).

And best of all, it has a huge sculpture of Chief Washakie right on State Street.

(Side note: I named the above file “Murray Head” and then it reminded me of this guy.)

If you know me, you know that I can’t resist a cemetery, so my final stop was the Murray City Cemetery. I know that no cemetery will compare to the ones in New Orleans, but I still love to visit them. I find the markers to be so sweet and insightful. The handshake is one of my favorite tombstone symbols.

I loved the ending of this verse.

And here’s a different kind of marker. You don’t often see family charts.

(Bonus memorial to a dog.)

But there was one grave I was looking for in particular. It’s been almost 3 years since my friend Adrianna passed away, and I had never had the opportunity to visit her resting place. I wasn’t sure where it was, so I kept driving around until I found it.

It was bittersweet to see her face looking back up at me. I have been to a lot of cemeteries, but I don’t often know anyone buried in them. I wish that I didn’t know anyone in the Murray City Cemetery, to be honest. But I was glad to have a place to visit and remember my friend.

Sorry to end on a sad note. I promise that I don’t know anyone else buried in any cemeteries that I plan to visit in the future.



  1. amanda a · January 25, 2012

    love this post! i, too, feel like i have so much uncharted territory to be discovered in utah. i only realized this, though, after living outside of utah. i miss it so. someday i’ll be back. i love murray’s downtown, especially the desert star theater and the murray arts center for dancing. thanks for sharing your adventures! keep ’em coming!

  2. krisgal · January 31, 2012

    My Mom used to take us to the murray park all the time when I was a kid. It will always be my favorite Utah park.

  3. Ottie Sypolt · July 24

    I was new to Utah in1994 and in 1994 I started dancing at Murray Arts Centre. I knew nothing of Ballroom Dancing, but after 23 years of dancing only there, I know a lot today. The only place to dance and sadly it will soon be gone.
    Murray City bought the whole block to someday be destroyed. The owners reluctant to sell, but if not,
    Eminent Domain.

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