On July 29, 1847 a group of pioneers known as the Mississippi Company, led by John Holladay, entered the Salt Lake Valley. Within weeks after their arrival, they discovered a free flowing, spring fed stream, which they called Spring Creek (near Kentucky Avenue). While most of the group returned to the Fort in Great Salt Lake for the winter, two or three men built dugouts along this stream and wintered over. Thus, this became the first village established away from Great Salt Lake City itself. In the spring, a number of families hurried out to build homes and tame the land. There were numerous springs and ponds here and grasses and wild flowers were abundant, making this a most desirable area for settlement. When John Holladay was named as the branch president of the Church, the village took upon itself the name of Holladay’s Settlement or Holladay’s Burgh.
As homes were built, commercial ventures developed, first at the intersection of Highland Drive and Murray-Holladay Road, with David Brinton’s Mercantile Co-op and Brinton-Gunderson Blacksmith Shop. As the community grew, businesses tended to move east of the intersection of Holladay Boulevard and Murray-Holladay Road, where more of the residents lived. Neilson’s Store and Harper-Bowthorpe Blacksmith Shop were popular and well-frequented businesses for many years. Favorable conditions for agriculture, orchards and businesses allowed for continued growth over the years.
The Holladay and Cottonwood communities were unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County and 15 years ago efforts were made by a dedicated group of citizens to incorporate as a separate entity, but area citizens voted against incorporation by a narrow margin. Salt Lake County, the Utah Supreme Court and/or the Utah State Legislature frustrated subsequent efforts and citizens weren’t allowed another incorporation vote until May 4, 1999. On that day, a better-informed citizenry voted by over 83% to approve incorporation and the City of Holladay was officially incorporated on November 30, 1999.
Residents overwhelmingly supported incorporation because of a profound desire to gain control of local planning and zoning. General Plan meetings were attended by a large number of enthusiastic Holladay residents, all excited to finally have a voice in the future of our community. A vast majority – if not all – of those attending wanted Holladay to maintain and even improve its rural atmosphere. Suggestions included:
Make the central Holladay business area more pedestrian friendly
Create biking and walking trails through the community
Curtail downsizing of building lots
Preserve and increase trees and other vegetation
Require large parking areas to include landscaping
Subsequently an area north and east of the original boundaries of Holladay were annexed into the City in October of 2002.