Third annual Garden Stroll brings pop-up parks to Main Street

The Urban Grow Room pop-up park near 100 South on Main Street features herbs and leafy greens for the visitors to take. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Just days before thousands of visitors will descend upon downtown Salt Lake for the bi-annual LDS General Conference, artists are putting their final touches on eight pop-up parks that for the next six weeks will add temporary outdoor public space to Main Street.

The park installations are part of the Downtown Alliance’s third annual Downtown Garden Stroll.   The alliance selected eight park designs out of more than two dozen proposals.  The selected public parks are staggered on three downtown blocks, between South Temple and 300 South.

“We are super excited about the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake and this opportunity to bring nature to downtown,” said Anders Piiparinen, brand and public relations representative for Cotopaxi, an outdoor retailer with a store on Main Street near the City Creek Center.

Cotopaxi was one of five sponsors of this year’s garden stroll.  Other sponsors included Salt Lake City, Utah Division of Arts & Museums, Goldman Sachs and the LDS Hospital.

Visitors to the pop-up park in front of the Utah Arts Theater can play a game of chess or checkers. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The majority of this year’s parks focus on sustainability and Utah’s outdoors.  At least half of the installations incorporate either solar energy or sustainable food sources into their designs.

“I was inspired by the social concept of having plants and herbs growing in an urban environment where people can take what they want,” said Stan Sommer.

Sommer and his wife Laura built the Urban Grow Room park located adjacent to the historic Zions Bank Building on Main Street near 100 South.  The park features seating areas adorned with artwork by Laura and a tiered circular garden at the center.  The installation features dozens of different herbs and leafy greens ranging from cilantro to rosemary to various types of kale and lettuces.

“Growing up here, I’ve always been a part of mountain culture,” said Josh Gerner

Gerner, a full-time design student and the University of Utah, designed his installation to pay homage to Utah’s mountains with native plants scattered throughout and a rear wall with scattered color splotches used to represent mountain flowers.

To encourage gathering, Gerner included three Central Park-inspired outdoor chess tables for visitors to play a game of chess or checkers.

“I want it to create an organic feeling where people can congregate in a personal way,” said Gerner.

There are pop-up parks at the following locations: South Temple and Main Street, City Creek Center Sky Bridge, Utah Arts Theater, KUTV news studio, Chase Building, Gallivan Plaza and 100 South and Main Street.  The park installations will be up until Mother’s Day, May 14.

*The author was a member of the selection committee for the Garden Stroll.

Visitors to the pop-up park in front of the Utah Arts Theater can play a game of chess or checkers. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at