West Jordan is a city in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. West Jordan is a rapidly growing suburb of Salt Lake City and has a mixed economy. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 103,712, placing it as the fourth most populous in the state. The city occupies the southwest end of the Salt Lake Valley at an elevation of 4,330 feet (1,320 m). Named after the nearby Jordan River, the limits of the city begin on the river's western bank and end in the eastern foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains, where Kennecott Copper Mine, the world's largest man-made excavation is located.
Settled in the mid-19th century, the city has developed into its own regional center. As of 2012, the city has four major retail centers; with Jordan Landing being one of the largest mixed-use planned developments in the Intermountain West. Companies headquartered in West Jordan include Mountain America Credit Union, Lynco Sales & Service, SME Steel, and Cyprus Credit Union. The city has one major hospital, Jordan Valley Medical Center, and a campus of Salt Lake Community College, which is designed to become the main campus by 2020.
City landmarks include Gardner Village, established in 1850, and South Valley Regional Airport, formerly known as "Salt Lake Airport #2." The airport serves general aviation operations as well as a base for the Utah Army National Guard for Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.
West Jordan received its name from Mormon settlers who entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 under the leadership of their prophet, Brigham Young. These first European-Americans thought of the area to be their Zion, or Holy Land, and thus named the river flowing west of their first settlement, Salt Lake City, the Western Jordan, a reference to the River Jordan in Israel. The name was later simplified to "Jordan River". Like its Middle Eastern namesake, the Jordan River flows from a fresh water lake (Utah Lake) to an inland salt sea (Great Salt Lake). West Jordan was founded around 1849 on the western banks of the Jordan River.
One of the first sawmills in the area was built in 1850 in the city by Archibald Gardner. Gardner was a devout Mormon whose legacy can still be seen in modern West Jordan. His collection of mills and houses, now historic, have been renovated into a specialty shopping district known as Gardner Village.
Early West Jordan relied primarily on agriculture, mills, and mining activity to form the base of its economy. The first leather tannery west of the Mississippi River was constructed in the city in 1851.
Today, West Jordan is one of the fastest growing cities in Utah. Growth has been phenomenal, beginning in the 1970s and continuing unabated since. The population grew from 4,221 in 1970 to 27,327 in 1980, 42,892 in 1990, and 68,336 in 2000, reaching 103,712 according to the 2010 Census. Sears chose the city as its first Sears Grand location, a new store concept, which opened its doors in 2003 at the Jordan Landing shopping center. Transportation issues along with school overcrowding are the city’s top concerns as it attempts to deal with rapid population growth.
Current major construction projects include the completion of Jordan Landing, a new main campus for the Salt Lake Community College, the expansion of Jordan Valley Hospital, and Midvale's current transit-oriented development on the east border in the Jordan River bed. Future plans for the city include the Mountain View Corridor freeway and the "Mid-Jordan" TRAX light rail line.
Old downtown West Jordan is in the process of being reconstructed as a transit-oriented development called "Briarwood." The plans called for an expanded Main Park, a history museum, an indoor recreation center, a senior center, and a large courthouse to serve the Utah State Third District, most of which are now complete. The second phase calls for the demolition of a dilapidated commercial area, to be replaced by six-story buildings housing a performing arts center, a large library, a hotel, an education center, a conference center, retail and office space, a trail linking to Gardner Village and the Jordan River trail, and a cultural pavilion to house the planned light rail station. As of 2014, the library and TRAX light-rail have been completed and opened.