It was known as Utah’s “Second City,” but in the hearts of those who lived there in the decade of the ’50s, Ogden was definitely number one. It was a time of great excitement and change. Dozens of passenger and freight trains arrived and departed the “Junction City” everyday. Many Ogdenites were involved in railroading, making Union Station a “happening” place. So, too, was nearby 25th Street. At the beginning of the decade, “two-bit” street was famous because of what went on in and above the many bars and other establishments.
Featuring archival photographs, film and dozens of interviews, Utah in the ’50s brings to life the golden memories of those whose lives were shaped by a time when business was booming and where places like Washington Boulevard were very “up-town.”
There was the elegant Ben Lomond Hotel, famous for its “Top-of-the-Town” dining and Dancing. Since the hotel elevator didn’t go all the way to the top, a one-flight walk would get you there. The studios of KLO Radio were located in the Ben Lomond, and when he arrived in Ogden near the start of the decade, radio personality Len Allen lived in the hotel and paid the outrageous price of $3 a night. “But,” Len tells us in the KUED production, “I finally got a special rate of $60 a month.”
Businesses flourished on Washington Boulevard. Most were locally owned and carried top-of-the-line men’s and women’s clothing, sporting goods and just about anything people in Ogden and surrounding cities and towns could possibly want.
Touring big bands --Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and many others -- regularly played the Berthana and White City Ballrooms. The Rainbow Gardens, famous for its swimming pools and fine dining, also featured square dancing.
There was just so much to do in the “Second City.” Patio Gardens was great for swimming and picnicking. Lorin Farr Park had a swimming pool. Snow Basin attracted skiiers from across the entire state. And the Ogden “Reds” thrilled baseball fans.
Ogden was the rodeo capital of the state. Even Gene Autry came to town for the 24th of July rodeo. With the leadership of the former Mayor, Harm Perry, Ogden was famous for its parades down Washington Boulevard.
Ogden High’s renowned art-deco building housed city students, and Weber High was home to students from the county. The growing population required construction of Ben Lomond High in the early ‘50s and the competition between the three high schools was intense.
Weber College became Weber State University and began offering four-year degrees. During the early 1950s, demands of the Korean War led to a greatly increased mission for Hill Air Force Base. Employment there reached over 15,000. The Defense Depot Ogden, and other military-related endeavors, employed thousands.
Agriculture, food processing, banking, defense, retailing, education--all were vital to Ogden’s vibrant economy. The diversity of the citizenry added greatly to the richness of the city.