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Magna ( MAG-nə) is a census-designated place (CDP) and township in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. The population was 26,505 at the 2010 census, a moderate increase over the 2000 figure of 22,770.
Settlement of the area began in 1851 shortly after the Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley. Early farmers settled in 1868 at the base of the northern Oquirrh Mountains and called their community Pleasant Green. By 1900, there were about 20 families in the area. One of the first Pleasant Green pioneers was Abraham Coon, who established a livestock ranch and settlement called “Coonville” in a canyon mouth at about 5400 South. The canyon is now known as Coon Canyon, and Coon Creek flowing out of it, is one of the major Oquirrh Mountain drainages. Coon Creek flows north and west through Magna to the Great Salt Lake.
The Pleasant Green Cemetery located in the Oquirrh foothills, at about 3500 South, was established in 1883. In 1890, in response to a law requiring all children to receive free public education, the first school was built in the community.
In the early 1900s, copper mining activity in the Oquirrhs began transforming the Pleasant Green area from an agricultural hamlet to an industrial community. D.C. Jackling established the Utah Copper Company, which later became Kennecott Copper Corp. In 1906, the company began constructing its Magna Mill. He chose the name “Magna” from the Latin word meaning “great” or “superior".
Boston Consolidated Copper constructed a second mill in the area in 1909. In 1911, the companies merged and the mill was renamed Arthur Mill. Construction workers lived in a temporary settlement known as “Ragtown". Several substantial homes were built in the tent city and later moved to the present community. As the mills began operating, some local farmers traded in their plows for a steady company paycheck and began moving in to work at the mills.
In 1906, the community's name was changed from "Pleasant Green" to "Magna", because postal officials were uncomfortable with the old name's similarity to Pleasant Grove, another Utah community. By 1909, the Hawthorne School (no longer standing) had been built in the eastern Magna area. In 1908, the Webster School (destroyed by fire and demolished in June 2004) was built at the west end of what is now Main Street. In 1924, the first building of the present Cyprus High School was completed. Over the years, buildings and additions have been constructed on the campus.
At the time, commuting to work by automobile was not practical. Few mine workers had cars and cross valley roads were in marginal condition. Workers lived in the town and walked to the mills. Downtown Magna included churches, saloons, fraternal halls, and stores. Several small neighborhoods, such as Japtown, Snaketown, and Little Italy, developed around Main Street. Many early residents were immigrants, primarily from Eastern Europe.
Between 1915 and 1960, the town's fortunes fluctuated with the copper industry. During the Great Depression, the mills shut down for a period and workers were laid off. About 1940, there was a resurgence as the pending war boosted copper demand. Growth continued after World War II, through the 1960s.
By the 1960s, the community was experiencing the first signs of a suburban transition. The Hercules Powder Co., once a small dynamite manufacturing firm, had begun producing rocket motors at its Bacchus Works south of the Magna community, named after 1912 founder T.W. Bacchus. The increased jobs were one factor encouraging subdivision development in the Magna, Kearns, and West Valley City areas.
In 1961, the voters in the Magna Improvement District (now the Magna Water and Sewer District) approved a bond that financed a sewage treatment plant, water storage tanks, pumps and well development. The improvements created sufficient capacity to serve more than double the population at the time and helped open the way for development. Not only did Magna's population begin shifting southward during the 1960s, but also automobile commuting, both to work and shopping, became common. As business activity moved to other areas, Main Street slowly began to deteriorate. Presently, some of the commercial space there is vacant.
During the 1970s, as part of a general west valley suburbanization trend, the community experienced more dramatic growth. Inexpensive land south and east of the historic town center began being developed into moderately priced single-family homes. The new neighborhoods tended to attract middle-income working class couples with younger families. While the community had grown from approximately 8,900 in 1960 to 10,000 in 1970, the population had increased to over 23,000 by 2000. This increase is about double the countywide growth rate.
The process for Magna to become a township took over 10 years. Growth and development continue to define Magna. The west bench plan will have a major impact on the future of Magna. Kennecott Land plans major development in the areas immediately surrounding Magna. The area west of Magna along I-80 is currently slated to become one of 2 major "urban centers" for Kennecott Land's west bench development plan. The Historic Main Street underwent a major remodel in 2006. Main Street has also become a popular location for film makers. including the Disney coorporation, and films such as Disney Channel's TV movie, Dadnapped, and some of the Halloweentown movies filmed on Magna Main Street. A two part episode (and series finale) of the TV series Touched by an Angel, "I'll Walk with You". The popular TV series Granite Flats also uses some of the Magna locations in part of the series. Disney's series 'Andi Mack' is also filmed in Magna.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19 km2), all of it land. The community lies just to the northeast of the Oquirrh Mountains and is directly south of the Great Salt Lake.
According to estimates from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah, as of 2015, there were 27,451 people in Magna. The racial makeup of the county was 69.76% non-Hispanic White, 0.30% Black, 0.48% Native American, 1.50% Asian, 0.37% Pacific Islander, and 1.95% from two or more races. 25.64% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Magna lies within the Granite School District and is home to 5 elementary schools, Copper Hills, Elk Run, Lake Ridge, Magna, and Pleasant Green. It also has Matheson Junior High, and Cyprus High School, whose sport teams compete in 4A-level competition (1A being the lowest and 5A the highest). The former Brockbank Junior High was closed in 2016 and combined with the Cyprus High campus.
Magna lies on the grid system of the Salt Lake Valley, between 7200 and 9200 West and 2100 and 4100 South. SR-201 runs along the northern border as an expressway and intersects with I-80 to the west. West 3500 South (SR-171) is the major east-west local road, while South 8400 West (SR-111) is the major north-south road. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) operates a local bus route and bus rapid transit (BRT) line within the community, both follow roughly the same route and enter from West Valley City. The BRT line is called 3500 South MAX and was the first and, as of April 2016, still the only BRT route operated by UTA. The bus system goes from UTA's Millcreek TRAX station on West 3300 South all the way to South 8400 South in Magna, between which it passes by the beginning of the TRAX Green Line (which connects with the Salt Lake City International Airport, via Downtown Salt Lake City the West Valley Central station by the Valley Fair Mall. Although the bus route of the 3500 South MAX stops at South 8400 South in Magna, the bus also loops around other places in Magna, including the majority of Magna Main Street. The 3500 South MAX runs every 15 minutes on the weekdays, as opposed to a majority of the UTA bus routes which run every half-hour to an hour.
The Magna Times is a local weekly broadsheet community newspaper that is based and published in Magna. In 2009, it had a circulation of 4,000.
Magna is home to The Empress Theatre.
Due to its historical significance, the theatre was added to the National Register for Historic Places on May 9, 1985 (National Register #85000962).
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