Orem - Family City USA
The Orem, Utah area is unique in all of America. Centrally located in Utah County, and extremely family oriented, this area is perfect to raise kids. In fact, Orem carries the title “Family City USA.” Originally overlooked due to the lack of fresh water supply, they finally brought Provo River water to the area by canal. And once there was water it became the orchard community of Provo, and then it became a very desireable place for early settlers to build a home and set down roots. In 1992, it also became the perfect place for my lovely wife Shelly and I to relocate from Southern California to raise our then young and growing family, and we have loved our life here.
OREM'S HISTORY - From the Orem City BSA “Citizenship In The Community” Information Pamphlet. This was authored in 2001, but everything is accurate up until then. References to Geneva Steel and UVSC are obviously quite dated since Geneva Steel is gone and UVSC is now UVU, but this is still a very good read...
Orem, Utah, is located in the center of the Wasatch Front metropolitan area, just 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, in Utah County. Following the pattern of Mormon colonization in Utah, pioneers established various towns in Utah Valley during the 1850s. It was customary to locate settlements near streams in order to have an adequate supply of water. Because the Orem area is located on a bench overlooking much of the valley, it was passed over for other areas that were closer in proximity to the natural streams and rivers that flow into Utah Lake.
The first activity of record in the Orem area was the movement of pioneers along the road from Salt Lake to Provo, which ran diagonally across the Orem bench from northwest to southeast. The steep grade of the Orem bench was a challenge for wagons traveling the road, particularly during muddy conditions. This road was opened for travel in 1848 by explorers sent by Brigham Young and later became State Street and a state highway.
In 1861, the first settlers came to the bench from nearby settlements. Because of the lack of natural streams and rivers in the Orem area, early settlers were initially summer farmers, living elsewhere and farming the fertile soil of the bench on a seasonal basis.
Increasing population in the valley and the need for more land brought about attempts to farm higher land by building new canals. In 1893 a canal was built which carried water from the Provo River to over 2,000 acres of land on the bench. With available water and subsequent canal improvements, settling the area on a larger scale was possible.
Alfalfa was the first crop grown on the bench. Strawberry and raspberry plants were also introduced. In 1885 the first peach trees were planted. The successful peach trees were soon followed by cherry, pear, apple, and apricot trees. With the rise of fruit orchards, permanent residences were established on the bench.
In Orem's early days, signs of growth came slowly. The first log cabin schoolhouse, which was located at 800 South and State Street, was not built until 1883. The first permanent church was the Timpanogos Chapel, which was also built on 800 South. The initial business establishment was a country store that opened at 560 North State Street in 1890. In 1900 the first blacksmith's shop was established, on the southeast corner of 400 South and State Street. The first fruit stand was built in 1914 at 1301 North State Street, and the first cafe was built at 597 North State Street in 1928.
Because of the need for services, particularly more water, a movement for incorporation was started. In 1919 a committee distributed a petition calling for the incorporation of the area known as Provo Bench. This was accomplished in 1919 when the town was organized and called "Orem" after Walter C. Orem, President of the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad. It was hoped that naming the city after Orem would aid in getting the railroad to pass through the city to facilitate the movement of fruit, which it did in part. Recently, however, the track was abandoned and has since been removed.
The growth of Orem continued to be limited by a lack of dependable water supply. In 1935, the Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir were constructed in Provo Canyon. This reservoir provided an adequate water supply for agriculture and industry, and as a result, most of the remaining uncultivated land was soon converted into orchards and farms.
Concurrently, a community recreational facility known as SCERA (Sharon Cooperative Educational and Recreational Association) was organized and constructed. This was a cooperative venture in which businessmen and farmers in Orem pledged their resources to finance the development of a theater that would provide entertainment to suit the religious and social desires of the people.
The decade of World War II brought many changes in Orem. Because of the need for steel in the war effort, the steel industry expanded. An area along Utah Lake was chosen as the site of Geneva Steel Works because of its location with respect to needed raw materials and transportation.
The influx of workers at the nearby plant greatly increased the need for more housing. Several subdivisions at approximately 400 North and 800 West were platted in an effort to build homes adjacent to the steel plant. This began a trend from rural to urban land use. That trend still continues today.
After the war the growth continued, as evidenced by population statistics. While Orem City had less than 2,000 people at the time of incorporation, by 1950 the figure was well over 8,000, with most of the growth coming in the last decade.
Since 1950 Orem has seen considerable growth and development. Some of the significant events for Orem included the completion of Orem High School (1956), the construction of Interstate 15 (1958), the construction of a sewage treatment plant (1959) and other major public facilities, the construction of the BYU diagonal (1969), the opening of a new City Center (1970), the development of the University Mall (1971), the construction of the Utah Technical College (1975) (which became the four-year Utah Valley State College in 1993), the construction of a water purification plant (1979), the completion of a second senior high school—Mountain View High School (1982), the construction of the world headquarters of WordPerfect Corporation (1982), establishment of the University Parkway regional retail corridor (1990s), and construction of Orem' s third high school, Timpanogos High School (1995). In recent years, the City of Orem has seen tremendous commercial and residential growth.
OREM TODAY AND TOMORROW
Orem is the sister city to Provo. Together the population of Orem and Provo approaches 200,000 people. While the area offers easy accessibility to all the cultural amenities offered by a major urban center, Orem's location just south of the Salt Lake Valley affords less congestion than the larger urban area.
According to the 2000 census, Orem is home to 86,346 residents-87% of whom are White (not Hispanic), 9% Hispanic, and 1.5% Asian, with the remainder being of other ethnicities. Orem has a young population, with a median age of 24 years.
Orem's culture is a reflection of its ideals. With strong religious roots, Orem's people are very family-oriented. As a result, there is a definite sense of community—evidenced by the annual SummerFest celebration and Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Orem, with its peaceful atmosphere, really is "Family City, U.S.A."
Residents of Orem are hardworking and industrious people. The largest Orem-based employers are UVSC (3,165 employees), Convergys (1,200), and the Alpine School District (899). Moreover, thousands of Orem citizens also work in the major commercial corridors along State Street and University Parkway. Brigham Young University, Novell, and Geneva Steel though not located in Orem—also employ many Orem residents.
The future of Orem is captured in its mission statement, "...to partner with citizens and businesses to help create and preserve a community where people want to live, work, and play." In 2001, Orem adopted an updated General Plan outlining several goals that aim at achieving that mission. Residents can count on responsible land use planning and ever-improving public services to make Orem an even better place to live.
Michael Leavitt regularly performs home inspections in the following areas and beyond: Orem, Provo, Springville, Mapleton, Spanish Fork, Benjamin, Payson, Elk Ridge, Woodland Hills, Genola, Elberta, Santaquin, Lindon, Pleasant Grove, Cedar Hills, Highland, American Fork, Lehi, Highland, Alpine, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Salt Lake City, Draper, Sandy, Midvale, Bluffdale, Riverton, Herriman, South Jordan, West Jordan, Magna, West Valley, Bountiful, Layton, North Salt Lake, Cottonwood Heights, Taylorsville, Murray, Holaday, Magna, West Valley, Centerville, Farmington, Kaysville, Woods Cross, Park City, Jeremy Ranch, Deer Valley, Heber and Sundance.