|Sacramento California Overview
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Sacramento is the state capital of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. Located in California's Central Valley, it is the seventh largest city in California. The city proper is home to about 450,000 residents, and is the core of its five-county metropolitan area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo Counties) of 2.5 million people. The Sacramento metro area is the fourth most populous in California, behind the Los Angeles-Orange County area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego area.
Sacramento was founded in December 1848 by John Sutter. Sacramento grew from Sutter's Fort, which was established by Sutter in 1839. During the gold rush, Sacramento was a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and a terminus for wagon trains, stagecoaches, riverboats, the telegraph, the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Typical of California informality, Sacramento is referred to by many names. The most prevalent are: Capital City, River City (due to the two major rivers which run through the city), and the City of Trees. However, the nickname most used by those living in the area is simply Sacto, Sactown or Sac. This is evident when residents refer to areas and landmarks by this name. Old Sac is the original town of Sacramento which to this day is maintained. The Big Tomato, Sacratomato, and Sack O' Tomatoes continue to be used despite the ongoing triumph of tract houses over tomato fields, perhaps in reference to the perceived pastorality of Sacramento in comparison
to denser cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles.
California State University, Sacramento, also known as Sac State, is the local university. It is one of the twenty-three campuses of the growing California State University system.
The lost frontier
Valley Miwok, Shonommey and Maidu Indians lived in this area for perhaps thousands of years. Unlike the settlers that would eventually make Sacramento their home, these Indians left little evidence of their existence. Their diet was dominated by acorns taken from the plentiful oak trees in the region, and by fruits, bulbs, seeds, and roots gathered throughout the year.
In either 1806 or 1808, the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River after the Spanish term for 'sacrament', specifically, after "the Most Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ," referring to the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist.
From pioneers to gold fever
The pioneer John Sutter arrived from Liestal, Switzerland in the Sacramento area with other settlers in August 1839 and established the trading colony and stockade Sutter's Fort (as New Helvetia or "New Switzerland") in 1840. In 1848, when gold was discovered by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma (located some 50 miles northeast of the fort), a large number of gold-seekers came to the area, increasing the population. John Sutter, Jr. then planned the City of Sacramento, against the wishes of his father, naming the city after the Sacramento River for commercial reasons. He hired topographical engineer William H. Warner to draft
the official layout of the city, which included 26 lettered and 31 numbered streets (today's grid from C to Broadway and from Front to Alhambra). However, a bitterness grew between the elder Sutter and his son as Sacramento became an overnight commercial success (Sutter's Fort, Mill and the town of Sutterville, all founded by John Sutter, Sr., would eventually fail).
The part of Sacramento originally laid out by William Warner is situated just east and south of where the American River meets the Sacramento River (though over time it has grown to extend significantly north, south, and east of there). A number of directly adjacent towns, cities or unincorporated county suburbs, such as Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Roseville, and West Sacramento, extend the greater Sacramento area.
The citizens of Sacramento adopted a city charter in 1849, which was recognized by the state legislature in 1850. Sacramento is the second oldest incorporated city in California after San Francisco, incorporated February 27, 1850. During the early 1850s the Sacramento valley was devastated by floods, fires and cholera epidemics. Despite this, because of its position just downstream from the Mother Lode in the Sierra Nevada, the newly founded city grew, quickly reaching a population of 10,000.
The California State Legislature named Sacramento as the permanent home of the state capital in 1854 by law, but the city did not physically hold that honor until January 1, 1855. Previously, the capital was located in Monterey, San Jose, Vallejo, and Benicia successively.
Begun in 1860 to be reminiscent of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, the Renaissance Revival style California State Capitol was completed in 1874. The legislative chambers were first occupied in 1869 while construction continued.
With its new status and strategic location, Sacramento quickly prospered and became the western end of the Pony Express, and later the First Transcontinental Railroad (which began construction in Sacramento in 1863 and was financed by "The Big Four" - Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford).
The same rivers that earlier brought death and destruction began to provide increasing levels of transportation and commerce. Both the American and especially Sacramento rivers would be key elements in the economic success of the city. In fact, Sacramento effectively controlled commerce on these rivers, and public works projects were funded though taxes levied on goods unloaded from boats and loaded onto rail cars in the historic Sacramento Rail Yards.
Sacramentans raised the level of the city by landfill. The previous first floors of buildings became the basements, in an effort to control the flooding. Now both rivers are used extensively for recreation. The American River is a 5 mile-per-hour waterway for all power boats (including jet-ski and similar craft) (Source Sacramento County Parks & Recreation) and has become an international attraction for rafters and kayakers. The Sacramento River sees many boaters, who can make day trips to nearby sloughs or continue along the Delta to the Bay Area and San Francisco. The Delta King, a paddlewheel steamboat which for a long time lay on the bottom of the
river, was refurbished and is now a hotel and restaurant.
The city is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River, and has a deepwater port connected to the San Francisco Bay by a channel through Suisun Bay and the Sacramento River Delta. It is the shipping and rail center for the Sacramento Valley, fruit, vegetables, rice, wheat, dairy goods and beef. Food processing is among the major industries in the area.
Much of the land to the west of the city (in Yolo County) is a flood control basin. As a result, the greater metropolitan area sprawls only four miles (6 km) west of downtown (as West Sacramento, California) but 30 miles (50 km) northeast and east, into the Sierra Nevada foothills, and 10 miles (16 km) to the south into valley farmland.
Sacramento has a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by mild winters and dry summers. The area usually has low humidity. Rain generally falls only between November and March, with the rainy season tapering off almost completely by the end of April. The average temperature throughout the year is 61 °F (16 °C), with the daily average ranging from 46 F (8 C) in December and January to 76 F (24 C) in July. Average daily high temperatures range from 53 F (12 C) in December and January to 93 F (34 C) in July (with many days of over 100 F (38 C) highs). Daily low temperatures range from 38 to 58 F (3 to 14 C). The average year has 73 days with a
high over 90 F (34 C), with the highest temperature on record being 115 F (45 C) on July 25, 2006, and 18 days when the low drops below 32 F (0 C), with the coldest day on record being December 11, 1932, at 17 F (-8 C). Average yearly precipitation is 17.4" (442 mm), with almost no rain during the summer months, to an average rainfall of 3.7" (94 mm) in January. It rains, on average, 58 days of the year. In February of 1992, Sacramento had 16 consecutive days of rain (6.41" or 163 mm). A record 7.24" (184 mm) of rain fell on April 20, 1880.
On average, 96 days in the year have fog, mostly in the morning (tule fog), primarily in December and January. The fog can get extremely dense, lowering visibility to less than 100 feet (30 m) and making driving conditions hazardous. The fog typically tapers off just a couple miles East of Downtown, where you can find bright and sunny mornings in Roseville & Rocklin (10 miles east of Sacramento), while it is still gloomy and fogged over in Sacramento, Elk Grove & Davis.
The record snowfall was recorded on January 4, 1888, at 9 cm (3.5 in). Snowfall is rare in Sacramento (with an elevation of only 52 feet or 16 m above sea level), with a dusting of snow every eight to ten years. Forty miles (65 km) east of Sacramento, in the foothills, snow accumulation is an annual occurrence. Further east, the Lake Tahoe recreation area is home to a number of world famous ski areas which have accumulation greater than 90" (230 cm) nearly every year during the peak season. Spots in the Sierra Nevada mountains east of Sacramento annually receive the most snowfall of any spot in the lower 48 states, and the mountain range's immense
snowpack is a vital source of water for the entire state of California.
The primary newspaper is The Sacramento Bee, founded in 1857 by James McClatchy. Its rival, the Sacramento Union, started publishing six years earlier in 1851. Before it closed its doors in 1994, the Union was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi. Writer and journalist Mark Twain wrote for the Union in 1866. In late 2004, a new Sacramento Union returned with bimonthly magazines and in May 2005 began monthly publication, but does not intend to return as a daily newspaper. In 2006, The McClatchy Company purchased Knight Ridder Inc. to become the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.
The oldest part of the town besides Sutter's Fort is Old Sacramento, which consists of cobbled streets and some historic buildings, some from the 1860s. Buildings have been preserved, restored or reconstructed, and the district is now a substantial tourist attraction, with rides on steam-hauled historic trains and paddle steamers.
The "Big Four Building", built in 1852, was home to the offices of Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker. The Central Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad were founded there. The original building was destroyed in 1963 for the construction of Interstate 5, but was re-created using original elements in 1965. It is now a National Historic Landmark.
Sacramento is notably diverse racially, ethnically, and by household income, and has a notable lack of inter-racial disharmony. In 2002, Time magazine (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,340694,00.html) and the Civil Rights Project of Harvard University identified Sacramento as the most racially/ethnically integrated major city in America.
The major theater venues for Sacramento include the Sacramento Convention Center which governs the Community Center Theatre, and the Memorial Auditorium. It is also the home of the Crocker Art Museum, which is the oldest public art museum west of the Mississippi River. The California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento has historical exhibits and live steam locomotives that patrons may ride.
The Sacramento Ballet performs in the Community Center Theatre. The Deane Dance Center is the company's official dance school. The Russian-American Music Academy of Roseville regularly offers community productions of operas and operettas. Theater companies with professional stature include California Musical Theatre and Music Circus which bring many famous directors and performers from New York City and Hollywood to perform in their productions, the Sacramento Theatre Company, and the B Street Theatre.
Sacramento has a reputation as a center for Dixieland jazz, because of the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee which is held every Memorial Day weekend. Events and performances are held in multiple locations throughout the city. Each year thousands of jazz fans from all over the world visit for this one weekend. Sacramento is also home to the Sacramento French Film Festival, a cultural event held every year in July that features U.S. premiers of French films and classic masterpieces of French cinema. In addition, Sacramento is home to the Trash Film Orgy, a summer film festival celebrating the absurd, B-movies, horror, monster, exploitation.