Liberty Wells cropped up in the 1890s as part of the Big Field Project when early Mormon pioneers plotted and tended fields that ranged between 5 and 80 acres. The area eventually became more residential, turning into one of the first suburbs of Salt Lake City when the streetcar system expanded its routes nearby.
In 2010, Liberty Wells was classified as a historic district by the National Park Service. 1,923 buildings in the neighborhood are considered to be historic structures, most of which are privately owned homes.
Pros: Rich history; proximity to Liberty Park, downtown and I-215; variety of local eateries
Cons: Lack of nightlife, few schools in the area, poor public transit
Housing affordability: Old homes at reasonable prices
Most of the homes in Liberty Wells are older—you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home built after the 1930s. Built by different people, each one of them is full of personality. Aside from the houses, some of the apartment complexes have been deemed historic structures as well.
Both houses and apartments are available to rent here. From small, single-bedroom apartments to 2,000 square-foot houses, you’ll find options to fit any budget and lifestyle. Prices range from $550 to $1,785, with the Zillow Rent Index being $1,251.
Along with a range of personalities, houses in Liberty Wells fall within a wide range of prices. The cheapest house you’ll find runs around $139,900, while the most expensive runs around $625,000. Most houses in the area sell between $250,000 and $300,00, which is fairly typical of Salt Lake City.
Getting around: Don’t use the bus
Driving is by far the easiest way to get around. With I-215 just south of the boundaries, residents can get to most of the northern half of the valley within 10 minutes.
Liberty Wells is ranked as the third-most walkable neighborhood in Salt Lake City, behind Central City and Rio Grande.
There are a couple of bus lines that run in the area, but most residents don’t use them. According to the 2014 census Only 3% of residents use public transit to commute.
Liberty Wells isn’t remarkable when it comes to biking, but it isn’t bad either. With few hills and plenty of space on the roads, bikers can count on an easy ride while they’re in the area.
Restaurants: Pick a cuisine, any cuisine
From Ethiopian to American and many cuisines in between, Liberty Wells has a surprising amount of dining options for its size. Be sure to check out these highlights.
Located right across the street from Liberty Park, the Park Cafe offers popular breakfast specials and sandwiches. Be sure to call ahead during peak hours, as wait times often run around 45–60 minutes.
Schmidt’s is known across the valley as a premier bakery. After you sample their pastries, deli, and cakes for special occasions, you won’t be able to go back to store-bought cake after sampling their goods.
Known for its new take on traditional curries, Thai Siam is a great place for American Thai food lovers. Be sure to take advantage of their $2 Pad Thai Tuesdays and other specials throughout the week.
Schools: From best to worst
Liberty Wells has mixed performance when it comes to schools. There are only two elementary schools and one high school within the boundaries. For the whole state of Utah, One of the elementary schools is in the top 40, while another is in the bottom 50. Schools in other neighborhoods aren’t too far away, but residents won’t have much of a choice if they want their kids to stay in the area.
The area’s lone high school does stand out. Innovations is a personalized learning school that customizes their education regimen to the needs of each student. Along with taking normal lessons, students have the opportunity to customize their schedule and work in study groups, alone, or on group projects. The school also prepares students for college through its partnership with Salt Lake Community College and its focus on careers after high school.
Situated right next to Innovations, Whittier couldn’t be more different. Deseret News, one of the local Salt Lake City papers, ranked Whittier #36 in the bottom 50 Utah elementary schools. At least half of the students there are below required proficiency levels, and students in higher grades don’t perform well on tests or in the classroom.
Hawthorne has a special focus on the arts, with a unique artistic relief in the entryway and programs in music, dance, and visual art. Hawthorne is also home to the Extended Learning Program, an educational program dedicated to helping gifted students hone their intellectual prowess. With this unique approach to learning and education, it’s no wonder Hawthorne ranks 33rd in all of the elementary schools of Utah.
Crime: About what you’d expect
(numbers are per 100k people)
Violent Crime: 833
Property Crime: 9,347
Like most higher-end neighborhoods, Liberty Wells isn’t free of crime. Property crime happens here somewhat more than average for Salt Lake City, so be sure to lock your doors and keep any valuables out of sight.
Other things to do: A little culture to cure your curiosity
As expected of an old neighborhood, Liberty Wells has plenty of historic sites to see. Prime among them is the Wilford Woodruff Farmhouse, one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. The monument was once home to the fourth president of the LDS Church, and sported a 20-acre farm.
And of course, when most residents think of Liberty Wells, they think of Liberty Park. Though the park isn’t technically in the boundaries, most residents can walk there within a couple of minutes. Many of Salt Lake City’s residents consider Liberty Park to be part of the Liberty Wells neighborhood.
The 110-acre park has a lot to offer. Along with a couple of playgrounds and pavilions, there’s a large running path for walking or rollerskating. The park is also home to the Tracy Aviary, a city sanctuary for nearly 400 birds. Visitors will also find the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts, Youth City after school program, a pool and tennis center, and a lake that is home to many waterfowl on all but the coldest days.
Whether you’re looking for a top performing school, a house next to one of the biggest urban parks in Utah, or a neighborhood with a bit of background, Liberty Wells has a lot to offer. If you consider yourself a history buff or love living in an older house, this is the place for you.
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