Orem celebrated its 101th birthday recently, but how much do you know about the city? Here are 10 interesting facts about Orem.
This is part of a series of stories highlighting interesting facts about cities in Utah County.
Orem is the second-largest city in Utah County by population.
According to 2017 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Orem has 97,839 residents, making it the second-largest city in Utah County. It beats out the third-largest city, Lehi, which has a population of 62,712.
Orem is growing, but not as fast as other cities in the area.
Census numbers from 2010 put the population of Orem at 88,329. That gives Orem a population growth rate of 10.7% since 2010. Thirteen Utah County cities are growing faster than Orem, and 10 cities and towns have a slower rate of growth.
It is the fifth-largest city by land size.
Orem may have the second-largest population of any city in Utah County, but it ranks fifth for land size. Orem covers 18.29 square miles of land, making it smaller than Eagle Mountain, Provo, Lehi and Cedar Fort.
Orem is 101 years old
In Orem, May 5 is more than just Cinco de Mayo; it is also the city’s birthday. Orem was incorporated as a city on May 5, 1919, making the city 101 years old. Orem was the tenth city incorporated in Utah County after Provo, Lehi, Payson, Springville, American Fork, Spanish Fork, Pleasant Grove, Alpine and Goshen.
Orem has the highest population density of any city in Utah County.
Orem records the highest number of residents per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 city population numbers, Orem has 5,349.3 people per square mile. Pleasant Grove has the second-highest population per square mile with 4,236.
Several factors influence population density, including availability of high-density housing units, family size, lot sizes and amount of undeveloped space within the city limits. Geographic layout of the city can also impact population density — rivers, mountainous areas and other features can impact the population per square mile count. Also impacting the population density is the amount of space within the city dedicated to housing, versus retail, industrial and commercial space.
Orem was named after a man who never lived in the city.
Orem may have one of the most unique name origins. The city was named for Walter C. Orem in 1914, builder of the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad, which ran through town. The city wanted to earn favors from the railroad, so it named the town after Orem, though he never lived there.
The area was originally known as Sharon and the Provo Bench.
When it was originally settled, part of the area was called Sharon, reportedly named after the birthplace of Joseph Smith — Sharon, Vermont. The Sharon Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1929, pulling from the name.
The name Sharon also graced the name of the Sharon Community Educational and Recreational Association -- or SCERA -- which was founded in 1933 under the guidance of Arthur V. Watkins, then president of the Sharon Stake, as a way to provide organized recreation to the community.
Orem was, for a time, also known as the Provo Bench, where orchards and farmland was abundant, according to Orem City.
Orem wasn’t originally set up like other Utah County cities.
According to Orem City, the city was set up differently than other cities in Utah County. At the time, most cities were laid out in regular city blocks with homes built closely together. Orem, however, was a farming community, with homesteads and built along the territorial highway.
The homes were scattered along the highway so that farmers could live close to their farms and orchards. As area near the highway was taken, farmers began to settle in other areas of what is now Orem and, according to the city, rural roads were developed, crisscrossing the area to connect the farms.
“This type of development, known in Utah as the “Gentile manner,” differed from typical historical development by Mormons, who were often counseled by church leaders to live in the city and cultivate farmland outside its limits,” the Orem City history states.
Orem has been home to several famous people.
Several well-known people have called Orem home over the years.
Current Utah Gov. Gary Herbert grew up in Orem and graduated from Orem High School. He and his wife Jeannette have called Orem home.
World-renowned artist James C. Christensen, who was known for his fantasy- and science fiction-inspired art, as well as his work in murals and sculptures, was an Orem resident until his death in 2017.
Several figures in sports have lived in Orem, including longtime BYU head football coach LaVell Edwards. Edwards was born in Orem and played high school football at Lincoln High School in Orem.
Ben Cahoon, former professional Canadian football player and current assistant BYU football coach, grew up in Orem and attended Mountain View High School. Travis Hanson, who played in the NBA, calls Orem his hometown. He played basketball at Orem Junior High and Mountain View High School. Hanson was the first person inducted into the MVHS Hall of Fame. Paul Kruger is an NFL football player who played high school football at Timpanogos High School in Orem.
A well-recognized name to BYU football fans, Chad Lewis grew up in Orem. He played for Orem High School before walking on at BYU. He then went on to play in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Several dancers on popular TV shows have come from Orem. Julianne Hough got her television start on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and has since appeared in movies and starred as Sandy in the live television rendition of “Grease.” Hough was born in Orem. Allison Holker is a dancer known for her work on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” where she was a contestant in season two and an all-star in seasons seven through 11. She also appeared on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She was raised in Orem and graduated from Timpanogos High School. Chelsie Hightower is known as a dancer and choreographer on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Hightower was raised in Orem, where she graduated from Timpanogos High School and attended Utah Valley University.
In music, the lead singer for the The Used, Bert McCracken was born in Provo and grew up in Orem. He attended Timpanogos High School until he dropped out at 16.
Orem has 19 city parks.
Orem is home to 19 city parks, offering several unique playgrounds and amenities. The City Center Park is home to Utah County’s only all-abilities playground, which offers play space for children with a wide range of abilities.
Mt. Timpanogos Park lets people explore the beauty of Provo Canyon. Nielsen’s Grove Park is the oldest park in the state, built in 1880. Another unique park — SCERA Park — is home to the SCERA Outdoor Pool, the SCERA Shell and the Colonial Heritage Festival.
Other amenities at parks include a climbing structure, sports fields, walking paths, open space, horseshoe pits, water features, a full-size track, a skate park and sledding and tubing areas for the winter.