The city layout was based on Joseph Smith's ideas about city planning. A notable characteristic of this plan was a grid pattern layout with square blocks oriented to the cardinal directions, wide streets (132 feet), alternating half-acre lots so that houses face alternate streets on each block, homes set back 25 feet from the street, frontyard landscaping, gardens in the backyard, farms located outside of town, and the designation of central blocks for temples, schools, and other public buildings.
When President Young issued instructions for establishing Salt Lake City, he established blocks with eight lots, 1.25 acres in size. As in Joseph Smith's plan, all streets were 132 feet wide and the houses on each block faced alternate streets, with each set 20 feet back from the sidewalk. The lots however, were much larger so that each could function as a minifarm with animals, barns, and gardens.