How to Navigate Salt Lake City Street Addresses

A Salt Lake City street with mountains in the background.

With more numbers and cardinal directions than names, it can be hard to navigate Salt Lake City street addresses. Here is a secret decoder ring to help you crack the code and explore Utah’s capital city.

Most street addresses in America look like this address for the White House in Washington, DC:  1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW. 

The street address is made up of:

  • A street number that is one to five digits long, 
  • A street name, like 1st, Elm, Main, or Wall,
  • A street type like Avenue, Street, or Way, and 
  • Sometimes, for added fun, the street address will include a direction, like north, south, east, or west.

So, it’s understandable if you’re confused by the address of the state-run liquor store at 205 West 400 South and many other Salt Lake City street addresses when visiting Utah’s capital city. This guide to navigating the Salt Lake City address system will help you crack the code and explore the City of the Saints like a pro.

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How Salt Lake's Address System Began

Salt Lake City Street Signs
Salt Lake City street addresses are determined based on their distance from the Salt Lake City Temple

To begin to decode Salt Lake City’s street addresses, it’s important to understand how Salt Lake City began. To escape religious persecution, a group of Mormon pioneers migrated from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley. After years of attempting to freely practice their religion, being able to do so was a top priority for these pioneers when they founded Salt Lake City in July 1847.

As the group of 148 Mormon pioneers established a permanent settlement in the Salt Lake Valley, their leader, Brigham Young, identified the spot on which they would work to build a Mormon temple. Known as the Base and Meridian, a small stone marker on the southeast corner of Temple Square is the epicenter of Salt Lake City’s grid system. 


Navigating Salt Lake City’s Street Addresses from the Base and Meridian

The Base and Meridian is "ground zero" for Salt Lake City street addresses
The Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian is considered “ground zero” for Salt Lake City street addresses.

With the Base and Meridian marking the coordinates 0 East, 0 West, 0 North, and 0 South, the Salt Lake City grid system expands across city blocks in increments of 100. Salt Lake City’s Temple Square marks the “center” of town. Moving one block north of the Base and Meridian marker, you’ll find 100 North. One block south of the Base and Meridian, you’ll find 100 South. And just to keep you on your toes, the street directly to the east of the Base and Merdian marker is called Main Street.

So, if your brain can visualize maps on a big piece of graph paper and can easily slide two squares up and three squares right — just like you did in elementary school when you learned map basics on a worksheet) — then it’s easy to understand that destination has a street address of 200 North 300 East.

But, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like letters in his math equations or numbers in her street names, it can be pretty darn confusing!

Sage Advice:  Explore more of Salt Lake City with this interactive scavenger hunt.

Adding to the Complexity of Salt Lake City Street Names

Rosa Parks Blvd in Salt Lake City
Just when you think you’ve got the hang of Salt Lake City street addresses, you’ll note that several streets have two names. For example, 200 East is also known as Rosa Parks Boulevard.

If you’re looking for a destination near Temple Square and/or have a highly developed natural sense of which way is north, Salt Lake City’s grid system is easy peasy, mac and cheesy. But if you’re a good distance from the Salt Lake City Temple (let’s say in the suburb of Sandy) or can’t tell which way is north (like at night), it can be easy to get turned around in Salt Lake City. 

Adding to the complexity are two more factors. The first is street number names that are four- and five digits long. Because all of the cities in Salt Lake County use Temple Square as their epicenter, streets in Sandy are often five digits long, like 10000 South. And if that isn’t enough, suburban Salt Lake City residents often drop digits so that 100th South is the same as 10000 South. 

Another complication is the mixing of numbered streets with street names that are, well, names! Sticking with my example in Sandy,  10000 South suddenly turns into East Sego Lily Drive once you cross over State Street.

The Best Way to Navigate to a Salt Lake City Street Address

It may sound like a cop-out, but the best way to navigate to a Salt Lake City address is to plug it into your smartphone map app and do whatever the bossy lady tells you! After all, her real-time, computer-animated audio directions are fueled by Google maps. Plus she never loses track of which way is north or gets flustered by how many blocks you’ve traveled from Temple Square.

Do You Know How to Navigate Salt Lake City’s Streets?

Are you skilled at decoding Salt Lake City’s street addresses? If so, what tips and tricks do you have to share with folks to whom this is a foreign concept? 


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6 thoughts on “How to Navigate Salt Lake City Street Addresses”

  1. Good piece on street naming. I find a simple grid very straight forward. Now are you going to delve into which side of the street is odd numbered buildings and which is even? Better just look at a sample when you get to your block. Address do make sense… 100s are in the block past 100 south and before 200 south.

    (And then there is the historic change to the West street names. No, no, no. If you are a historian look into it.)

  2. As the article mentions, locals will shorten the names of the streets by dropping the last two zeros from the name when speaking. So 200 West is called “Second West”. 500 South is called “Fifth South”. 9400 South is called “94th South”. But if you are saying an address that doesn’t end in two zeroes, you say the whole number. A street written as “9425 South” will be called “Ninety four twenty five south” and you could say it is “Close to ninety fourth south”. The building numbers coordinate with the street numbering system.

  3. Wow! I didn’t know that it was so difficult to navigate Salt Lake City. Thanks for this great post. I’m sure it will be so helpful to so many people!

  4. I had no idea that navigating Salt Lake City might be confusing and complicated. You provide great tips on how to navigate street addresses in this city.

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