Allen Park’s history first begins with its namesake Dr. George Allen. As a doctor, he was known to have a kind heart; he took great care of the working class during the Great Depression, never turning down a financially constrained patient. Dr. Allen was also known for his eclectic interests ranging from creating mosaic poetry to collecting and caring for exotic birds. It is important to note that he also helped launch Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary.
In 1931, George and Ruth Allen moved into a small house on the seven-acre property now called Allen Park. Stretching for nearly two blocks along Emigration Creek east of Westminster College on 1300 East, some of the land had been a farm and some was used as the neighborhood landfill. But, much of the park remained in a relatively natural state when the Allens began what would be a 30-year journey to create a charming sanctuary for birds and people, with trees, shrubs, nooks, benches, poetic mosaics, fountains, and nesting boxes. At one point, you could find an elephant, chimp, reindeer, raccoon, coyote, and a sandhill crane named Sandy.
During the 1940s, the Allens added 15 rental duplexes to help sustain the park financially. Over the years, students, professors, hippies, loners, and artists lived in the wonderment of Allen Park. After Dr. Allen died in 1961, the park remained occupied by family and renters, but slowly fell into disrepair. By the late 1960s, and continuing through to Allen Park’s closure in 2018, the neglected, overgrown, and shady streamside community sparked a local legend that its peculiar cottages and log buildings were inhabited by hobbits.
For decades, Allen Park has been loved and bemused by Salt Lake City. It is a cultural icon, between its lore, artwork, and preservation of nearly eight acres of a unique ecosystem. Through tremendous effort between the community, grassroots organizations, and public entities, Allen Park will be preserved as a one-of-a-kind public open space in Salt Lake City.
Generations of local teenagers referred to Allen Park as "Hobbitville," and they dared each other to drive or walk to the end of Allen Park Drive at night. Tenants would gather just out of sight of the road, making menacing noises and popping out of the shadows to terrify the teens.