Utah Metro Map

Utah historical overview

A Salt Lake Tribune article dated April 25, 2006, conveyed the story of Jaime and Carmen De Leon, both natives of Chihuahua, Mexico, who now are small entrepreneurs in the city of Ogden. The family moved to the Beehive State in 2000, having given up a carpet-cleaning business in Anaheim in hope of leaving behind the negative influences of gangs and southern California congestion. Shortly thereafter, the couple took a chance by leasing an old boxing gym and opening a carniceria (meat market) in a run-down section of the downtown of this historic railroad city. Over the past few years, the enterprise has prospered and now offers not just meats, but a full line of Mexican grocery items. The undertaking has proven so successful that the De Leons recently opened a second establishment to serve a constantly growing customer base.

The family’s business success, and the location where they have achieved it, have both been pleasant surprises. Utah might not have been the De Leons’ first choice, but as Carmen stated, I’ve never imagined retiring here. Now, I am looking forward to it.2 At first glance, Utah certainly is not the first locale most would expect to feature a vibrant and diverse Spanish-speaking community. However, a closer examination of the state’s history reveals that Spanish-surnamed people have

contributed greatly to Utah’s economic and social development. Most people’s perception of the Beehive State is that the population is not very diverse. To an extent, such assumptions are correct, for a brief overview of Utah’s demographics reveal that whites constitute approximately 83.5 percent of the populace, but this does not tell the whole story.3 Although the overwhelming majority of Latinos live in Utah’s urban core (stretching from Ogden to Provo and covering an area of approximately 100 miles) by the year 2000, Spanish-surnamed people have lived and worked in all of Utah’s 29 counties.4 Recent studies by historians and other scholars have shed light upon the social, economic, and religious story of this community.

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