in the western area in the fall of 1848, when Joseph Harker became the
first white man to settle the west side of the Jordan River, probably
near present-day 600 West and 3300 South. Within a year, seven other
families had moved into the area. In 1853, the settlers built a fort
with thick walls of rock and adobe to protect themselves against possible
Indian attack. Until the 1880s settlement was relatively slow in the
western part of the county. From 1890 to 1900, however, the population
increased by 79 percent as compared to 19 percent for Salt Lake City and an average of 33 percent for the state.
Though the population
steadily grew in the western section of Salt Lake County, it remained
largely agricultural until the 1960s. Development progressed haphazardly.
Subdivisions were built without sidewalks, gutters, and landscaping.
By 1978 the population had increased to 72,000, and increasing service
problems and perceived county indifference provoked residents to action.
Some believed incorporation was the solution.
In 1978, the
first incorporation vote failed, but the second vote held in 1980 succeeded.
Since West Valley City was born more or less already full grown, it
was confronted with a wide range of problems. At incorporation, West
Valley City immediately became Utah's third largest city. Most city
watchers doubted its survival and predicted its early demise. Others
proclaimed its incorporation heralded the incorporation of all unincorporated
sections of Salt Lake County. Neither prediction has proved true.