Under the veneer of clean clothes and slick multimedia-displays about Joseph Smith is a grimy, depressed, blue collar town in the desert. Not that that's necessarially bad, but when you notice that, it's harder to take the central LDS experience so seriously. You realize how much it's for show. The super tidy couples with baby carriages and gaggles of children, just happen to be strolling around the Square in the afternoon. Why would they be there? Making things look good? Demonstrating happy familyhood, Mormon style?
Speaking of empty and spooky: we visited the Kennecott Copper Mine, just south of SLC. It's the world's largest pit mine. The scale is hard to parse, until you realize the trucks are almost 20 feet tall and there are dozens of them roaming. There are no people visible, only giant vehicles moving slowly or waiting patiently in line to be filled with excavated earth. The only sound is periodic far-off horns and occasional beeps.
There is a lot of space and no people and it's spooky and empty too, just like the city.