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St. George is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Utah, United States. Located in the southwestern part of the state on the Arizona border, near the tri-state junction of Utah, Arizona and Nevada, it is the principal city of the St. George Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies in the northeasternmost part of the Mojave Desert, adjacent to the Pine Valley Mountains near the convergence of three distinct geological areas: the Mojave Desert, Colorado Plateau, and Great Basin. The city is 118 miles northeast of Las Vegas and 300 miles south-southwest of Salt Lake City on Interstate 15. The city is named after George A. Smith, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apostle. St. George and its surrounding area is well known for its natural beauty and proximity to several state and national parks, including Zion.
As of the 2015 U.S Census estimates, the city had a population of 80,202, and the St. George metropolitan area had an estimated population of 155,600. St. George is the seventh-largest city in Utah and the most populous city in the state outside of the Wasatch Front.
In 2005, St. George was ranked the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, surpassed only by Greeley, Colorado. This trend continued through 2010, when growth slowed substantially due to the economic recession. Growth has since rebounded and St. George was declared the fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. in 2018.
Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the St. George area was inhabited by the Virgin River Anasazi and later by the Paiute tribe. The first Europeans in the area were part of the Dominguez–Escalante Expedition in 1776.
St. George was founded as a cotton mission in 1861 under the direction of Apostle Erastus Snow. It was called Dixie by Brigham Young, who was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While early settlers cultivated cotton as a commodity crop, they did not succeed in producing it at competitive market rates; consequently, cotton farming was eventually abandoned. More important to the economy was tourism, which developed as the railroads began to carry visitors to the nearby Zion National Park.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Brigham Young organized the settlement of what is now Washington County.
Fearing that the war would take away the cotton supply, he began plans for raising enough in this southwestern country to supply the needs of his people. Enough favorable reports had come to him from this warm region below the rim of the Great Basin, that he was convinced cotton could be raised successfully here. At the general church conference in Salt Lake City on October 6th, 1861, about three hundred families were "called" to the Dixie mission to promote the cotton industry. Most of the people knew nothing of this expedition until their names were read from the pulpit; but in nearly every case, they responded with good will, and made ready to leave within the month’s time allotted to them. The families were selected so as to ensure the communities the right number of farmers, masons, blacksmiths, businessmen, educators, carpenters, as needed.
The settlement was named after George A. Smith, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In April 1877, the LDS Church completed the St George, Utah Temple. It is the Church's third temple. It is the oldest continually operating LDS temple in the world.
St. George was the location of the 1997 United States Academic Decathlon national finals.
In January 2005 a 100-year flood occurred throughout the region, due to prolonged heavy rainfall overflowing the Virgin River and Santa Clara River (Utah). One person was killed and 28 homes were destroyed by the Santa Clara River.
In the early 1950s, St. George received the brunt of the fallout of above-ground nuclear testing at the Yucca Flats/Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas. Winds routinely carried the fallout of these tests directly through the St. George and southern Utah area. Marked increases in the frequency of cancer in the population, not limited to leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, bone cancer, brain tumors, and gastrointestinal tract cancers, were reported from the mid-1950s until the early 1980s.
A 1962 United States Atomic Energy Commission report found that children living in St. George, Utah, at the time of the fallout may have received doses to the thyroid of radioiodine as high as 120 to 440 rads" (1.2 to 4.4 Gy).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.9 square miles (168.0 km²), of which, 64.4 square miles (166.8 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (0.72%) is water. St. George lies in a desert valley, with most of the city lying below 3,000 feet (900 m). Wildlife and vegetation are typical of the Mojave Desert in which it lies. It is situated near a unique geological transition zone where the Mojave, Colorado Plateau, and Great Basin all converge. The Beaver Dam Mountains, commonly referred to as Utah Hill, lie to the west, the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Pine Valley Mountains to the north, the western edge of the Colorado Plateau and Zion National Park to the east, and the Arizona Strip to the south. The Virgin and Santa Clara rivers flow through the valley and converge near the western base of Webb Hill.
The urban area sprawls between and around numerous hills, mesas, waterways and desert habitat reserves creating natural boundaries of sections and communities within the city, making for more of a rural feel despite being urban. St. George is bordered by its suburbs; Washington and Hurricane to the east, Santa Clara and Ivins to the west-northwest, and the community of Bloomington which forms the southwestern part of the city.
The downtown area is located in the central valley between the natural boundaries, Black Hill to the west, the red sandstone bluff or Red Hill to the north, Foremaster Ridge to the east, and the Virgin River to the south. Interstate 15 runs nearly through the center, severing many surface streets of the grid. The major roads, St. George Boulevard and Bluff Street, are the main downtown arteries and interchanges, and also make up the Interstate 15 central business loop.
The older part of downtown has a well defined grid of broad, tree-lined avenues, with the center point of the grid at Tabernacle and Main Street in the heart of the historic district. All streets parallel to Tabernacle run east-west and streets parallel to Main run north-south. The campus of Dixie State University lies several blocks east of the historic district along University Avenue. Despite decades of rapid growth and new development in the city, the tallest buildings remain low-rise at no more than five to six stories tall.
Much of the city's more exclusive, high-end neighborhoods were developed in the hills and mesas within the city to capture the scenic views. One such neighborhood is Stone Cliff, a high-end, master-planned, gated community of multimillion-dollar homes built on a hillside overlooking downtown and the valley from the southeast. Bloomington in the southwest area is a residential community centered around a golf country club, with most homes built in the mid-late 1980s. The Sun River area, south of Bloomington, is Utah's first and only active adult master-planned retirement community, offering golfing and resort-style amenities. Major new master-planned neighborhoods and communities such as Desert Color, in the South Block area of the city are forecast to house over 30,000 new residents in the near future.
The west side is the area west of the Black Hill, and is home to the primarily residential neighborhoods of Green Valley, Sunset and Dixie Downs. This area of the city holds many apartment projects, condominiums and other higher-density dwellings. Dixie Downs is named for an old horse race track that once operated near what is now the intersection of Dixie Downs Road and Snow Canyon Parkway. This densely developed area of mixed low to mid-income housing and projects is notable for being the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the city. It is the site of the first dual-language immersion public school in the Washington County School District.
The east side is the area east of Foremaster Ridge, which includes the neighborhoods of Middleton, Foremaster, Panorama and Red Cliffs. The east side is primarily single-family residential, but high-density, multi-level apartment and condominium projects are becoming more prominent. This part of town also contains most of the city's commercial districts, retail, and industry along the busy River Road-Red Cliffs Drive and 3050 East corridors.
The city and its metro area have consistently made national headlines and top rankings as being among the top fastest-growing areas in the country for the past several decades, putting pressure and strain on local municipalities, government and infrastructure like roads, public transportation, housing and employment. The city saw available rentals in 2017-2018 at just 0.01 percent vacancy, a never seen before occurrence here. As the area scrambles to develop new apartment and housing projects to keep up with demand, the mostly net-migration growth continues at a rate of 4 percent, adding over 12,000 new residents in 2016-2017 to the metro area. St. George was ranked as the number one fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. in 2018. New homes and subdivisions are popping up in all parts of the area, even in the far southern reaches of the metro area, such as Desert's Edge, are developing in remote territory along Southern Parkway, south of the regional airport. City planners and organizers refer to this area as the 'South Block', a section of vast, open desert lands within city limits, and adjacent to the Arizona border. It is proposed for future residential and commercial development. The southeastern quadrant of the city known as Washington Fields and Little Valley is a more open-spaced area containing pastures, livestock and occasional farm houses, but is rapidly being developed as a higher density suburban area.
The rural communities of Winchester Hills and Diamond Valley lie at the extreme northern city limit on State Highway 18. Located at a higher elevation, they have a cooler climate than the rest of the city. Winchester Hills, just east of Snow Canyon State Park, is home to the newer high-end golf community, The Ledges of Snow Canyon.
In southwestern Utah, soil and rock formations are red in appearance due to the presence of iron oxide, although portions of the older section of the city, particularly the southern part near the Virgin River, lie on floodplain alluvium, but much of St. George proper is built directly upon Jurassic, Triassic, and Permian period sedimentary bedrock.
The following formations are listed in chronological order and can be found within the city limits.
Basaltic lava flows from the Quaternary period form the black ridges to the east and west of the historic area of St. George city. The volcanic eruptions producing these flows are thought to be 1.2 million years old.
Other points of geologic interest include the Virgin River anticline; the rock has eroded away in the center, leaving sheer walls surrounding the "Purgatory Flats" area to the east of St. George. Another geologic feature is Pine Valley Mountain: composed of one solid piece of granite, it is one of the largest laccoliths in the world.
St. George's arid climate is significantly hotter on average than elsewhere in Utah, and typical of the desert southwest (Köppen BWks or BWhs), featuring hot summers and brief, cool winters. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 41.3 °F or 5.2 °C in December to 87.9 °F or 31.1 °C in July, while there are 60 afternoons with 100 °F (37.8 °C)+ highs with an average window of June 29 through August 13, and 122 days with 90 °F (32.2 °C)+ with the average window fluctuating between late April and early October, and approximately 61 mornings where the low reaches freezing with the historical average window between November 12 and March 14.
The highest temperature statewide was 118 °F (47.8 °C), which was recorded in a remote area in south St. George, near the Arizona border on July 4, 2007, breaking the previous record-holder, at 117 °F (47.2 °C), also set in St. George on July 5, 1985. The record high minimum temperature is 89° set on July 15, 1970, and July 3, 2013. Nighttime freezes are common during the winter due to radiative cooling. Both the record low temperature of −11 °F (−23.9 °C) and record low maximum temperature of 17 °F (−8.3 °C) were set on January 22, 1937; the record low temperature occurred again on January 26, 1937.
The city has abundant sunshine year-round and averages over 300 sunny days per year, with an average8.80 inches or 223.5 millimetres of precipitation annually. The wettest “rain year” has been from July 2004 to June 2005 with at least 15.66 inches (397.8 mm) (some days were missing) and the driest from July 1973 to June 1974 with 3.89 inches (98.8 mm). The wettest month has been January 1993, when 4.74 inches (120.4 mm) fell. Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, except for a dry period from mid April through June which occurs after the Pacific storm season but before the southwest monsoon. Precipitation mostly comes from the Pacific Ocean from late fall through early spring. The storm track usually lifts north of the city by mid-April. The monsoon brings localized and often intense thunderstorms from early July through mid-September. The greatest rainfall in 24 hours was 2.40 inches or 61.0 millimetres on August 31, 1909. Snowfall is rare in the city, with many seasons recording no measurable accumulation; the normal seasonal snowfall is 1.4 inches or 0.04 metres. The earliest snowfall was measured on October 29, 1971 and the latest on April 11, 1927. The record single day snowfall is 10.0 inches or 0.25 metres which was set on January 5, 1974. The most recent major snowfall was on December 8, 2013, when between 6.0 and 8.0 inches (0.15 and 0.20 m) blanketed the city, making it the third heaviest snowfall in St. George's recorded history. It was also a remarkable storm for how low temperatures fell and remained that way for several days, severely damaging or killing much of the area's non-native sensitive vegetation. Temperatures during that first week of December 2013 were the coldest the city had seen dating back 100 years, with an unofficial nighttime low temperature of 1 °F or −17.2 °C recorded at the St. George Regional Airport.
As of 2015 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in St. George, Utah are:
In 2015, the city's population was estimated at 80,202. St. George was declared the fifth fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States in 2015.
As of 2011, there were 27,552 households. The population density was 1,135 people per square mile. As of 2010, there were 32,089 housing units at an average density of per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 87.2% White, 0.7% African-American, 1.5% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.0% Pacific Islander, and 8.9% from other races. 12.8% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the 2000 census, there were 17,367 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.6% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.9% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years old or older. The average household size was 2.81 individuals and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 28.4% under the age of 18, 13.7% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,505, and the median income for a family was $41,788. Males had a median income of $31,106 versus $20,861 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,022. About 7.4% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over. A significant portion of the over 65 population is "snow birds", who live in St. George during the winter months.
Percent religious: 77.97%; below stats as of 2014
The St. George city government has a council-manager form of government, with five representatives elected from single-member districts. The mayor, elected at-large, also serves as a member on the City Council. The Council hires a city manager to deal with regular operations. As of January, 2014, the mayor of St. George is Jon Pike. The city manager of 37 years is Gary Esplin, Assistant City Manager is Marc M. Mortensen.
Council members are Gil Almquist, Jimmy Hughes, Michele Randall, Joe Bowcutt, and Bette Arial, who was appointed on Jan. 23 by the other four members to fill the seat that Jon Pike vacated when he was sworn in as mayor. City Council meetings are held on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the City Council Chambers.
The U.S. Federal Courthouse, Washington County Justice Court, Juvenile Court and the Fifth District Courthouse are located downtown.
Dixie Regional Medical Center is an Intermountain Health Care hospital offering a 24-hour trauma center and basic emergency services for the tri-state region of southern Utah, northwest Arizona and southeastern Nevada.
St. George is served by City of St. George Power, which serves most of the city, and Dixie Power, which serves southern areas of the city. Rocky Mountain Power serves parts of the greater St. George area.
St George is an arts and cultural destination, and has an increasing number of events and attractions.
Visual, musical and theater The St. George Arts Festival features local, national, and international artists. The festival showcases a wide array of contemporary Southwestern indigenous art. The City of St. George sponsors Art in the Park and Concerts in the Park series which offer a variety of musical acts and culinary booths. Vernon Worthen Park is home to the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and Southern Utah Heritage Choir. Art Around the Corner features many outdoor sculptures and statues depicting both local cultural flair as well as a broad array of ever-changing pieces which come from all over for a temporary display in the downtown area. The roundabouts at Main and 200 North, and Tabernacle Street and Main both pose as downtown centerpieces to display rotating and/or traveling art sculptures. Art galleries are abundant throughout Washington County and southwestern Utah.
St. George is home to a number of museums and points of interests, and many are located in the downtown historic district.
The week-long St. George parade of homes showcases high-end homes and architectural features each February. St. George hosts the bi-annual U.S. Navy Blue Angels airshow "Thunder Over Utah" at the regional airport, and the annual Dixie Roundup Rodeo is a long time local tradition at the Dixie Sunbowl. The Dixie Convention Center is the largest state-of-the-art venue in southern Utah and hosts concerts, meetings, and major events such as UFC cage fighting, the Spring Home and Garden Expo, What Women Want Expo and the Dixie Regional Transportation Expo among others. Sunset on the Square is a popular family-friendly event featuring popular movie showings and entertainment outside on a large screen at dusk held at Town Square Park in downtown. The George Street Fest is an arts and concert tour featuring a Jazz Garden with a variety of cuisine, vendors beers and wines occurring every first Friday of each month. It is focused on offering nightlife options in efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Dixie State University features the annual celebrity concert series and spring break concerts.
St. George is well known for both the Huntsman World Senior Games and Boston-qualifying St. George Marathon, and is the thirteenth largest marathon in the country, attracting thousands of participants and tourists each October. Other notable events include; the St. George Ironman 70.3 Triathlon; the Fall Fuel Fest featuring Nitro Circus; The Retro Rock Fest, a two-day outdoor rock show featuring many national and international bands performing on multiple large stages with a beer garden and culinary booths. Neighboring Santa Clara hosts its annual Swiss Days each summer season, celebrating its heritage and Washington City offers a heritage-related annual events like Cotton Days and Peach Days.
SkyWest Airlines is headquartered in St. George, and is the primary airline provider at the city's regional airport. Walmart has a distribution center just outside the city and Family Dollar recently opened a distribution center in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park to better serve the southwest region of the U.S.
The Washington County School District main offices are based in the city.
The Cafe Rio restaurant chain was started in St. George in 1997.
A large part of the local economy comes from tourism, due to its proximity to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park as well as several state parks and recreational areas. Over a dozen golf courses with year-round golfing, and various world-recognized events also make for large contributors to the city's economy.
Local governments are putting more emphasis on active transportation, a growing trend in cities today. With the city's 50-plus mile urban trail system along with expanding trail connectivity, and installing of bike lanes on more of the city's roadways, cycling is becoming more popular among commuting residents.
St. George Regional Airport is located seven miles southeast of downtown St. George off Southern Parkway (SR7). It opened in January 2011, replacing the previous smaller airport that was located on a land-locked mesa in the center of town.
American Airlines flies between Phoenix and St. George. Delta Air Lines has flights between Salt Lake City and St. George. United Airlines flies between Denver and Los Angeles, St. George.
St. George has no rail service. The Union Pacific line between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas is about 60 miles (97 km) north and west of the city.
SunTran is the local public transit system and operates six fixed-routes with over 140 bus stops serving St. George proper and Ivins.
Greyhound serves St. George on its Denver-Las Vegas and Salt Lake City-Las Vegas routes. Greyhound connects with Amtrak's California Zephyr in Salt Lake City. St. George is also served by the bus company Tufesa and the shuttle companies Salt Lake Express and St. George Shuttle.
Interstate 15 runs north-south connecting St. George to Salt Lake City and the Canada–US border to the north, and Las Vegas and southern California to the south. St. George is served directly by exits 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10. The western terminus of Interstate 70, 125 miles (201 km) to the north, connects St. George to Denver and the east coast. Access to Interstate 10 and Interstate 40 connects St. George to Phoenix and Albuquerque via U.S. Route 93, 120 miles (190 km) to the southwest.
The St. George community has been the home to two minor-league independent baseball teams. The first, the St. George Pioneerzz (originally the Zion Pioneerzz) who played in the independent Western Baseball League from 1999 to 2001, winning the league championship in 2000. A new franchise, managed by former major league player Darell Evans, was awarded to Utah's Dixie in 2007. The team, the St. George Roadrunners, played in the independent Golden Baseball League before being taken over by the league and moved to Henderson, Nevada in 2010. Several high schools including Dixie, Desert Hills, Pine View, and Snow Canyon all play in 3A state competition. Dixie State University participates in the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference where famous DSU athletes prevailed including Corey Dillon, Anton Palepoi, Reno Mahe, and Scott Brumfield, who all eventually played in the NFL. Marcus Banks, Lionel Hollins, Keon Clark, and Mo Baker were Dixie players who later played in the NBA. Dixie athletes are called Trailblazers (formerly The Rebels and Red Storm), and former Rebels Bradley Thompson and Brandon Lyon later played in major league baseball while Bruce Hurst of Dixie High School later played for the Boston Red Sox a pitcher, and then ended up managing the now retired Zion Pioneerzz for its inaugural 1999 season (1999).
St. George ranked most secure place to live in the United States in 2006.
St. George has been ranked among the top 10 best small places for business and careers by Forbes
St. George was ranked the fifth fastest-growing metro area in the country in 2015.
St. George ranked among the top 10 safest metro areas in the West.
St. George ranked among top best places to live.
St. George is home to many parks, several award-winning golf courses and recreation areas, as well as over 65 miles of urban trail system. Notable parks and sites include the Canyons Softball Complex; Little Valley Softball Complex; Pioneer Park, Tonaquint Nature Center; St. George Motocross Park a.k.a. SGMX. The Washington County Regional Park and fairgrounds is just east of the city in Hurricane. Thunder Junction All Abilities Park is a first of its kind in the western United States catering to special needs children, as well as all children. The St. George area has several public recreation centers; the St. George Rec Center; Washington City Rec Center and the Sand Hollow Aquatics Center. The city also has several dog parks, splash pads, urban fishing ponds and two skateparks.
The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret Morning News, and Las Vegas Review-Journal / Las Vegas Sun are also widely distributed in St. George and offer home delivery.
Other publications include; St. George Magazine, a monthly magazine covering a variety of local content, and View On Southern Utah is a magazine offering a variety of content for the southern Utah, southern Nevada and northwestern Arizona area.
St. George has only one television station licensed to the city, KMYU Channel 12, a MyNetworkTV affiliate. It is carried in HD on Dish Network and DirecTV, as well as on Comcast Ch. 643 in Salt Lake City, and on Ch. 20 on local cable, TDS Communications, formerly Baja Broadband. KMYU (known as My Utah TV) is sister station to KUTV-DT, and is operated out of KUTV's offices in Salt Lake City, although the station has a news bureau with a reporter and photographer based in St. George.
Also in St. George are the offices of Cedar City, Utah-licensed KCSG Channel 14, a MeTV affiliate, which broadcasts local news at 7:00PM and 9:00PM. The city also receives local TV channels from Salt Lake City with broadcast translators in the St. George area.
The Las Vegas NBC affiliate, KSNV-DT, has a local translator owned by Cherry Creek Radio, KVBT-LP channel 41, on which some of its programming airs two hours later than the same programming broadcast on Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL-TV.
St. George is home to Dixie State University, a four-year institution, of about 9,000 students (as of 2012), and Dixie Applied Technology College. In addition to the colleges, the city is also home to the College Education Centers of University of Phoenix and Stevens-Henager College. The Rocky Vista University of Osteopathic Medicine opened in 2017 in the western St. George suburb of Ivins.
The city of St. George is a part of the Washington County School District. St. George has four public high schools: Dixie High School, Pine View High School, Desert Hills High School, and Snow Canyon High School, as well as Millcreek Alternative High School. The city has four middle schools, three intermediate schools and numerous elementary schools.
Two new public middle and high schools, both named Crimson, are under construction and are due to open in the fall of 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Neighboring Ivins is home to Utah's first charter high school, Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts, which provides an alternative education with no tuition costs to any Utah resident.
Some movies that were filmed in St. George:
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