When Superlatives of Ogden Were the Norm

The Utah Digital Newspaper project recently showed a new upload of a single edition of the Ogden  “Standard,” so I took a look, wondering why it was so special.

You can access it here — CLICK HERE!!!

I have no idea why this one showed up, but my guess is it was in someone’s collection of “really cool stuff” that the University of Utah acquired, and this particular edition of the Standard — the June 25, 1889 edition– is really cool.

Of course, it’s not JUST a newspaper. It’s an ad brochure, something designed to be sent all over the world telling the world what a cool place Ogden is. Never mind it was a podunk western town with fewer than 20,000 people and dirt street. To the world it was MOST PROSPEROUS, FASTEST GROWING, MOST INDUSTRIOUS, CLEANEST WATER and on and on.

I haven’t seen the Standard-Examiner do this lately, but this used to be an annual deal called the “Progress Edition,” which was really a way to sell ads to all the local businesses that were feature.

In the 1880s the Standard’s owners were tightly involved with all the other businesses in town for very good reasons: Ads pay for the paper, ads are sold to businesses, so the better local businesses do the more ads the paper can sell and everyone does well.

What, you thought journalism of old was harshly independent and critical?  It is to laugh.

An article headlined “Ogden Has…” lays it out: Ogden has three newspapers, “the best water supply in Utah,”  fruit canneries and a vinegar works, a leather tannery and shoe factories, “the finest business blocks in the territory,” “the best nurseries and greenhouses in the territory,” “the most beautiful streets and avenues to be found in the Union,” and, in all humility, “more shipping businesses than the whole remainder of the territory.”

And on and on.

This particular edition is especially lovely because the paper went to the cost of having s

teel engravings made of all the major buildings and businesses in town. They ran them full page, or filled pages with them, and wrote glowing accounts of the businesses therein.

I love the shot of Washington Avenue (it didn’t get named boulevard until 1939) showing street cars, wagons, people and shops, all busy, congested even, thriving.

The front page is especially entrancing, a massive engraving of the Territorial Reform School, which used to be on about 2nd Street north and Washington Blvd. The building is a massive temple of architecture, with landscaping like a European castle.

The Standard’s own building, by comparison, is tiny and humble. Well, it was just a little building over on 24th Street.

Did all this work? Ogden did boom, and statehood in 1896 didn’t hurt any. It’s had its ups and downs since, and is, today, if not the best place on the planet, at least pretty nice.

But, man — I sure wish we still had some of the buildings in these pictures. Sadly, they’re almost all gone, doomed by progress and age.