The 1970s: what a time in Park City
July 10, 2009
Lloyd Evans very well might have met some of Park City’s finest long before he started a police career in which he rose through the ranks before spending 11 years as the chief of police.
Evans, who is a lifelong Parkite and grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, recently recalled Park City being a carefree place back then for the kids growing up in an era when Park City’s silver-mining days were fading and the ski industry was still struggling to gain a foothold.
Evans, who retired as the chief in 2008, recently told a crowd at the Egyptian Theatre the kids of Park City back then understood they were to be off the streets by 10 p.m. The wail of the 10 o’clock Whistle, still sounding on Main Street nightly at 10 p.m., was the cue to go home.
"If you weren’t home, the local cops would help you get there," Evans said as part of an evening of storytelling by several notable longtime Parkites.
Park City at the time, Evans said, was not a lavish place, describing that he was a parking-lot attendant in 1966 at the ski resort that would years later become known as Park City Mountain Resort and, back then, parents would know where the kids were hanging out.
The event at the Egyptian Theatre drew about 75 people for the discussion, which also featured Richard Martinez, a retired silver miner whose storytelling has thrilled his listeners for years.
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Gene Carr, meanwhile, hired to be a Main Street consultant in the 1970s, presented slides of images of Main Street and surrounding streets from the decade. The slides of Main Street were especially intriguing, with the images showing a district that was still years away from becoming the shopping, dining and entertainment strip that it is today.
It did not appear as though owners kept the buildings in spiffed-up shape, and one image of Swede Alley in the early 1970s shows a muddy mess. A photo of one of the first Park City Art Festivals, showing a lackluster crowd compared to festivals of recent years, illustrates the strides it has taken since the artists hung their works on the old buildings instead of in the booths organizers provide nowadays.
Still, Carr told the crowd at the Egyptian, people on Main Street at the time were hopeful. The leaders on the street were banking on skiing becoming a big draw. The broken-down buildings on Main Street and decrepit places where people lived were to become fixer-uppers.
"They had a hunch skiing was going to catch on," Carr said.
The 1970s was a transforming decade for Park City. The ski industry had barely been established, but people in Park City at the time were unsure how successful the industry would become.
The silver-mining industry, which had dominated the local economy for a century, was sputtering. Meanwhile, there were conflicts between the hardened miners living in Park City and the newcomers, who brought with them a more casual, fun-loving lifestyle.
Martinez offered numerous tidbits about the period. He told the crowd who lived in some of the houses featured in the slideshow, including one where 14 people lived at one time, and described the time when a Christmas tree was put up in a vacant lot on Main Street.
The others on the panel had stories as well, offering what they remembered of the time. Jan Wilking, who moved to Park City in the 1970s, recalled there being just three real-estate agents when he arrived. All of them worked on a part-time basis. Wilking, whose varied career has involved publishing and not-for-profit work, said people in Park City back then went by nicknames.
Another story from the time, offered by 45-year resident Harry Reed, whose career has included working in the ski and the real-estate industries: the pornographic movie "Deep Throat," now considered perhaps the most famous of the genre, showed briefly at the Egyptian.
It was shut down quickly.