From up on the mountain, Utah Valley currently looks something like this:
Not that long ago the valley looked like this:
This is a photograph from historian D. Robert Carter's collection. It was labeled "State Mental Hospital". Which I believe you can see when you follow the rough line of structures and trees that mark the beginnings of Center Street. The hospital was one of the first buildings in Provo. If you visit their lovely grounds today you'll see a large plot that has never been touched. You'll also see a lot of deer and an apple orchard.
I daydream about stepping into the above picture and running around the landscape, especially around the river with its many unchecked braided channels...the foothills...and the canyons...breathtaking! I love everything about every inch. I want to know the memories the pre-pioneer valley once held-- to which we have scant access.
And while I've cathected with the cityscape that now covers the valley (so many good times!) I wonder what it would be like to "wipe our slate clean" and start over. What design choices would we make differently?
Protecting the lake from carp would be high on my list. Encouraging quaint locally owned shops and discouraging franchises, strip malls, and big box stores would be a priority as well. NOT tearing down old homes to make way for cheap apartments would be another. AND I wish we had kept the train/trolley tracks we used to have in downtown Provo. Because, HOW COOL WAS THAT!
There are city planning decisions still being made all the time. In many ways we are wising up! But PLEASE Provo leaders, don't build a bigger airport, we have enough pollution as it is. We don't need to add jet fuel emissions. And please SAY NO to a dike toll road that would span Utah Lake. Kindly heed the ecological studies over the excitement of unfettered growth.
I've repeatedly tried to leave this valley (where I was born). I take off but always return. I'm tethered to this place with a strange awe and reverence. No matter where I roam I feel the land's magical pull. In loyalty I need to give it something in return for what it's given me.