Skip to main content
University of Utah Library Guides

The Historical GIS of Salt Lake City: Project Details

An interactive geospatial study of historical, environmental and health related impacts to Salt Lake City.

Interactive Component Listing

Chemical Impacts to Salt Lake City Layer

     Each of the following chemicals contains detailed information about the chemical, business types/locations known to be associated with each chemical from 1935-1952, associated EPA Superfund sites as well as chemical related reports found in the media.

  • Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Trihalomethane (THM)
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Benzene
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Arsenic
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)

Additional Salt Lake City Layers

     The additional layers folder contains thematic layers to aid and further develop the users understanding of the impacts each chemical has had on Salt Lake City.  Users also have the ability to upload their own data sets for analysis within the interface, making this project beneficial to researchers across multiple disciplines.

  • Historical Basemaps including Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
  • 3D Salt Lake City Buildings (1950)
  • 1940-2010 Census Housing Statistics
  • Transportation Systems & Associated Businesses (1935-1952)
  • Occupational Chemical Exposure Motion Chart
  • Community Council Districts
  • Then & Now: A Historical Photo Comparison of Downtown Salt Lake City
  • Hidden Waters
  • Parks
  • EPA Superfund Sites of Salt Lake City
  • Buffer Zones for EPA Superfund Sites
  • Salt Lake City Boundaries

The Project Platform

     Google Earth has been chosen as the platform for presenting this project to users for the following:

  • the programs user-friendly ease of use
  • ability to include elements of different formats into one program
  • the endless amounts of information that can continually be applied to the interface
  • the analysis tools available to users
  • the ability to share the project with users around the world

Future 3D Components

     Historical Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps have long been an excellent resource for planning.  In the near future, we hope to not only present users with information from this time, but also enable them to visualize the past.  Currently, a small section of Salt Lake City has been modeled 3 dimensionally utilizing both Google Sketchup and ArcGIS software; however, our goal is to soon create a complete 3 dimensional reconstruction of Salt Lake City utilizing information contained in the 1884, 1889, 1898, 1911 and 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collections.  This effort will create an interactive model with time-related information on building names, addresses, composition and heights that will engage users through a geospatially informative experience.


Detailed 3-dimensional animated model created by Caitlyn Tubbs (Digital Scholarship Lab) using Google Sketch-Up software.


Interactive 3-dimensional model layer created by Justin Sorensen (Digital Scholarship Lab) using ArcGIS and Google Earth software.
Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library