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River boating, ice cream, bacon, sunshine – those are just some of the things there are to love about Sacramento. It is a vibrant city that sits at the confluence of a river by the same name and the American River. Located in northern California, it is the capital city of the state of California as well as the seat of Sacramento County. Ever heard of the Gold Rush? This is where it started. The city can be traced back to Swiss immigrant John Sutter who started a settlement there in 1848. The following year a man named Marshall found a gold nugget in nearby foothills and soon it was discovered that there was an abundance of gold, bringing forth massive numbers of people all of whom were looking to profit from the gold trade.
Initially, these people created temporary settlements that were mostly covered with canvas but a series of devastating fires forced them to consider building more permanent buildings. In fact, Sacramento is home to the first volunteer fire department in western US. Fires were not the only problem. The close proximity of the settlement to the two rivers meant that it was prone to severe flooding. After 2 floods the city’s leaders started to consider a plan to raise the downtown area. A third flood made the consideration a reality. Dirt was shipped in using wagons and was used to raise the whole city by one story. Today, if you look under some boardwalks and in some basements you can see the original levels.
According to https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Fire/About/History?accSession=1, “The California State Legislature officially moved to Sacramento in 1854 and at the 1879 Constitutional Convention, Sacramento was named the permanent State Capital. With its new status and strategic location, the city quickly prospered. Sacramento became a major distribution and transportation point as the western end for both the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad. On March 30, 1872, after the City formed Engine Companies 1 and 2, the Sacramento Fire Department was established and became the first paid professional fire department west of the Mississippi.”
The city, however, did not rely on the gold rush for economic activity for long. In 1855 construction of the Sacramento Valley Railroad started and it was backed by a group of financiers who called themselves the Big Four. They included Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, and Leland Stanford, after whom Stanford University is named. The following year it became the terminus of the state’s first railroad. As the railway expanded farmers from all over California were able to ship produce to the east. The improved transportation meant that what was previously a 6 month journey between the 2 coasts now became a 6 day journey. Tradesmen stopped relying on the river as a means of transportation. Less than 100 years later Marshall field, an important base of operation during WWII drew in large groups of people who proceeded to shape the private sector that we see today.
What is it like to live in Sacramento?
Sacramento is a great place to live. To start with, it has a reasonable population. Although the city covers 100.1 square miles (with about 2% of that being water), it has a population of only about 500,000 people. It has a Mediterranean climate, with damp, wet and mild winters and dry, hot summers. The average daily temperature is about 60F but it can dip to 46F during the cold months. It can also get extremely foggy in December and January making visibility, and thus driving, hazardous. Snow is very rare, and only 3 significant snowstorms have happened since 1900.
The population is diverse and the cost of living in Sacramento is reasonable, attracting many people there, including seniors who are looking for good weather and to stretch out their retirement savings. Like many other cities in America the city went through some rough times after the 2008 recession but today, the real estate market as well as many other economic sectors have brought things back to normal. Because it is located in the middle of California’s rich agricultural sector the city is a big advocate of the farm-to-fork movement, and residents have lots of access to fresh organic foods as well as wine and locally brewed beer.
As for jobs, the city is doing rather well with an unemployment rate of less than 6%. The government Sutter Memorial Hospital and UC Davis Medical Center as well as many universities, including Sacramento State (also California State University, Sacramento) and the University of California. There are plenty of public and private schools for younger students too.
What to do in Sacramento
Sacramento is big on museums so you should make some time to stop by some of the best, starting with the Crocker Art Museum. It was established in 1869 by Judge Edwin B. Crocker and his wife and it started out as a collection that eventually went on to become a museum. Whether or not you are a train enthusiast you should make time to visit the California State Road Railroad Museum, a collection of 6 buildings that provide a fascinating history into the railroads of the west. There are restored train cars and locomotives and visitors can view them at any time of the year. The California State Capitol Museum is also worth a visit. For kids and lovers of all things science and space there is the Powerhouse Science Center where you can enjoy a planetarium, a nature discovery room, an archeology dig as well as a look into the Challenger Learning Center.
As for where to get your culinary delights, there are great restaurants all over the city but you should make a reservation at The Waterboy located in midtown Sacramento. The chef, Adam Schulze, uses only the freshest meat and vegetables from the California Valley. The menu is seasonal but he focuses mainly on Italian and Southern France cooking styles. There is also a great collection of wines as well as artisan cocktails.
You cannot talk about the delights of Sacramento without including Old Sacramento. This is a 28 acre historic part of the city that tells you everything you would like to know about how Sacramento came to be what it is today. It has more than 100 shops, restaurants, museums and plenty of entertainment locations where you can while away your time. The Sacramento Zoo is also an interesting place to visit with more than 500 species of different kinds of animals.
Next, head over to McKinley Park to see just how well the residents of this great city can work together. More than 2,000 volunteers managed to build this park in just 6 days with money that they had put together themselves. You can enjoy the Alhambra Theater” entrance arch, the Fredrick N. Evans Memorial Rose Garden, the “Tower” bridge, and a riverboat and street trolley, among other attractions. Another good example of the volunteer spirit of the city is Casa garden, a restaurant that opened its doors back in 1974 and is run mainly by volunteers. It started off as a children’s home which is still open today and any tips that are left by patrons go to the home.
Don’t stop there; there are plenty other things that you can do in Sacramento so why don’t you go ahead and start planning your trip today?