Park City is a city in Summit County, Utah, United States. It is considered to be part of the Wasatch Back. The city is southeast of downtown Salt Lake City and from Salt Lake City's east edge of Sugar House along Interstate 80. The population was 7,558 at the 2010 census. On average, the tourist population greatly exceeds the number of permanent residents.
After a population decline following the shutdown of the area's mining industry, the city rebounded during the 1980s and 1990s through an expansion of its tourism business. The city currently brings in a yearly average of $529,800,000 to the Utah Economy as a tourist hot spot. The city has three major ski resorts: Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and Park City Mountain Resort. The Park City and Deer Valley ski resorts were the major locations for ski and snowboarding events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Although they receive less snow and have a shorter ski season than do their counterparts in Salt Lake County, such as Snowbird resort, they are much easier to access.
Additionally the city is the main location of the United States' largest independent film festival, the Sundance Film Festival, home of the United States Ski Team, training center for members of the Australian Freestyle Ski Team, the largest collection of factory outlet stores in northern Utah, the 2002 Olympic bobsled/skeleton/luge track at the Utah Olympic Park, and golf courses. Some scenes from 1994's Dumb and Dumber were shot in the city. Outdoor-oriented businesses such as backcountry.com, Rossignol USA, and Skullcandy have their headquarters in Park City. The city has many upscale luxury retailers, clubs, bars, and restaurants, and has nearby reservoirs, hot springs, forests, and hiking and biking trails. Park City is also the original home of the Mrs. Fields Cookies chain.
In the summertime many valley residents of the Wasatch Front visit the town to escape high temperatures. Park City is usually 20 °F (11 °C) cooler than Salt Lake City, as it lies mostly above above sea level, while Salt Lake City is situated at an altitude of about . It is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and is notable for having a large number of Northern and Central European immigrants. Park City has been referred to as its own "state within a state" because of the high number of non-Mormons living in the area, and it is generally the most liberal city in Utah; with supermajorities usually supporting Democratic Party candidates and issues.
In 2008, Park City was named by Forbes Traveler Magazine among one of the 20 'prettiest towns' in the United States. In 2011, the town was awarded a Gold-level Ride Center designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association for its mountain bike trails, amenities and community. It continues to be published in top ski, cycling and adventure magazines across the world.
The area was travelled by the early Mormon pioneers on their journey to where they settled and built Salt Lake City. One of their leaders, Parley P. Pratt, explored the canyon in 1848. He was given a charter the following year to build a toll road through it, which was finished in 1849. The basin at the top of the canyon was good for grazing, and a few families settled there. Early on, the area was deeded to Samuel Snyder, Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Grant. The settlers named it "Parley's Park City", which was shortened to "Park City" in the early 1900s. The first known discovery of ore in this area was by Colonel Patrick E. Connor, who instigated his men to search the area in bringing non-Mormons to the Utah region. The finding of silver, gold and lead sparked the first silver mines in Park City in the 1860s. Park City’s large mining boom brought large crowds of prospectors setting up camps around the mountain terrain, marking the first mining settlements. Although it was not the first find, the Ontario mine, discovered by Herman Buden in 1872 and later purchased by George Hearst, was the first major producer. By 1892 the Silver King Mine and its owners Thomas Kearns and David Keith took the spotlight as one of the most famous silver mines in the world. While silver was thriving in Utah, other mines across the world were depleted, drawing many of these miners to Park City. The town flourished with crowds of miners and wealth. However, the city nearly became a ghost town by the end of the 1950s because of a drop in the price of silver.
The transformation of the town into a ski resort is primarily attributed to the silver need during (and after) World War I economy. The war and Great Depression were creating strikes and crippling the economy. Once the site of the largest silver-mining camp in the country, the town was virtually destroyed by fire in 1898. Tragedy struck again in 1902 when 34 miners were killed in an explosion in the Day West Mine. The mining community never fully recovered and the miners resorted to desperate measures. These desperate measures were based on the need to revive the economy, and in doing so the miners gave up their mining heritage, turning to the rising interest in the West and skiing. The silver industry was suffering severely, and the town was hanging by a thread when ’Parkite’ miners presented to Utahns Inc. a proposal for a ski resort called Treasure Mountain which ended up saving the town. This ski resort opened in 1963 on of land the miners owned with mineral rights. This is said to be when tourists first largely began to visit Park City. This marks the beginning of the ski industry largely promoted by the Utah State Legislation as a destination resort.
Since the rise of the skiing and tourist economy, Park City houses more tourists than residents. It has become a place of fame through the 2002 Winter Olympic games and provides more attractions than ever before. In the 1950s, Utah began to feed on Park City as a mountain getaway, and not until D. James Canon promoted winter sports in Utah, with the promotional scheme of “Ski Utah” and “The Greatest Snow on Earth” did many drive to see for themselves why Utah is a winter wonderland. Utah drew in over 648,000 tourists in 1970 and now a yearly average of 4 million tourists. In a small town with a population of 8,000, the average number of tourists in Park City is 600,000 per year. This significant increase in visitors is largely credited to promotional material that is carefully planned and distributed by the Utah Publicity and Tourist Council. Growth has accelerated in the last few decades, and Park City is now one of the most affluent and lively resort towns in the United States.
The tourist industry now contributes over one third of the total economic value to the state of Utah. In particular, Park City draws in 3,006,071 average annual visitors; in the winter 1,603,775, and in the summer 1,402,296. Park City prospers from the average nightly visitor spending ranging from $100 to $350. Currently, Park City primarily relies on its tourist industry from skiing to restaurants to hiking and biking. The makeover of Park City has stimulated an entirely different culture of expenditure, adventure, and wealth, and their promotional material indulges it.
As long ago as the 1920s, miners in Park City were using underground trains and shafts to gain access to the mountain for skiing. Aerial trams once used for hauling ore were converted into chairlifts. To this day, there are still more than of old silver-mine workings and tunnels beneath the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort and neighboring Deer Valley. Park City might be a fairly nondescript-appearing town were it not for its colorful and evocative Main Street, where 64 Victorian buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. There are many remaining mine buildings, mine shafts (most blocked off from outsiders with large steel doors), and hoists, including the weathered remains of the Walker Webster Silver Mine and the water towers once used to hydrate one of the biggest mines, the Silver King, provide a hint of the history of this mining town transformed in economic upheaval into a skiing resort.