When Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, President Brigham Young selected a 10-acre plot of ground that was designated for the temple. This plot became known as Temple Square. The area also became the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The Old Tabernacle and endowment house were also built on the square but were later torn down. In 1867 the famous Salt Lake Tabernacle was built with a seating capacity of 6,000. Today Temple Square also features two visitors’ centers, one of which houses a replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue called The Christus.Along with Mormon Church growth, several new buildings have been erected and have expanded the headquarters into the surrounding blocks. An administration building and the LDS Church Office Building hold the offices of the apostles and other general authorities. In 1995, the Hotel Utah was remodeled as additional office space. A museum and genealogy library are located on the block west of Temple Square, and in 2001, the Church completed a new 21,000-seat Conference Center.
Temple Square has become a popular tourist attraction, with five million visitors annually, more than the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. Many tours and events are held to accommodate visitors. The grounds are graced with beautiful gardens, and musical concerts and other events are held frequently. During the Christmas holiday season, thousands of lights sparkle from trees and shrubs around the square. The lighting of this event is so popular, it is attended by hundreds each year.