Sacramento, California

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Sacramento from near the Sacramento River
Sacramento from near the Sacramento River

Sacramento is the county seat of Sacramento County, California and the capital of the U.S. state of California. It was founded in December 1848 by John Sutter, Jr. 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.
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Sacramento in 1855.

The lost frontier

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 would leave little evidence of their existence. Their diet was dominated with acorns taken from the plentiful oak trees in the region and by eating fruits, bulbs, seeds, and roots throughout the year.

The Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River after the Spanish term for "holy sacrament", in either 1806 or 1808.

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. 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 or cities, such as Carmichael, Florin and Citrus Heights, 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 oldest incorporated city in California. 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.

Capital city

California's Capitol
California's Capitol

The California Legislature named Sacramento as the permanent home of the state capital in 1854. Previously, the capital was located in [[San Jos鬠California|San Jos靝, Vallejo and Benicia successively.

Begun in 1869 to be reminiscent of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, the Renaissance Revival style California State Capitol was not completed until 1874.

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 water sports. The American River is off limits to power boats 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 go all 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 modern era

Sacramento became a port (79 nautical miles northeast of San Francisco) when a schooner loaded with iron and steel arrived at the wharf in downtown Sacramento. Ships bringing mining tools and equipment to Sacramento and its nearby gold fields enabled the river port to prosper.

Major Paul Norboe, assistant state engineer for California, saw Sacramento's potential as a port in 1916, and he campaigned for a deeper harbor. Norboe's efforts convinced the state and the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce to make a feasibility study for a deep-water channel and harbor. At the end of World War II, William G. "Bill" Stone (later considered "The Father of the Port of Sacramento") convinced the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to re-study the deep-water project. The Corps' study proposed a 43-mile channel cut to Lake Washington in Yolo County, in what is now the City of West Sacramento. The channel would begin at the Sacramento River near Rio Vista, California.

The US Congress authorized the Sacramento port construction project in July 1946, approved by President Harry S. Truman. Roy Deary, president of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, appointed a port district organization committee, with meetings held with the County and the City. The Sacramento-Yolo Port District was created in 1947, and ground was broken on the Port of Sacramento in 1949.

The first major storage facility at the port was a 500,000 bushel (18,000 m³) capacity grain elevator. This was later expanded to 875,000 bushels (31,000 cubic meters) and received its first truckloads of wheat in 1950. On June 29, 1963, with 5,000 spectators waiting to welcome her, the Motor Vessel Taipei Victory arrived. The port was open for business. The Nationalist Chinese flag ship, freshly painted for the historic event, was loaded with 5,000 tons of bagged rice for Mitsui Trading Co. bound for Okinawa and 1,000 tons of logs for Japan. She was the first ocean-going vessel in Sacramento since the steamship Harpoon in 1934.

The city's current charter was adopted by voters in 1920, establishing a city council and city manager form of government, still used today.

The city of North Sacramento incorporated in 1924, and merged into the city of Sacramento in 1964.

Sacramento today

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Capitol Mall

The current mayor is Heather Fargo.

Sacramento has a few professional sports teams. Currently, the city hosts two professional basketball teams, the Sacramento Kings (NBA), and the Sacramento Monarchs (WNBA). In addition, Sacramento also has a minor league baseball team called the Sacramento River Cats (affiliate of the Oakland Athletics). In the past, the city hosted two professional football teams, the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF and the Sacramento Gold Miners of the CFL. At one time, it was also the home to an indoor soccer team, the Sacramento Knights of the CISL and later WISL. The Sacramento Solons, a Pacific Coast League professional baseball team, played in Sacramento from 1903 - 1961 (originally the Sacramento Senators, they changed their name in 1935).

The California State Fair is held in Sacramento in the latter weeks of the summer (ending on Labor Day). Over one million people attended this state fair in 2001.

Sacramento is also home to California State University at Sacramento (CSUS), founded as Sacramento State College in 1947. In 2004, enrollment was 22,555 undergraduates and 5,417 graduate students in the university's eight colleges. The university's mascot is the hornet, and the school colors are green and gold. The 300-acre campus is located along the American River Parkway a few miles east of downtown.

The Los Rios Community College District consists of several two-year colleges--American River College, Cosumnes River College, Sacramento City College, Folsom Lake College, plus a large number of outreach centers for those colleges.

The primary newspaper is the Sacramento Bee (, founded in 1857. Its rival, the Sacramento Union (} started publishing six years earlier in 1851, and before it closed its doors in 1994 it was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi. Writer and journalist Mark Twain worked at the Union in 1866. In late 2004 the Sacramento Union returned with bimonthly magazines and in May 2005 began monthly publication, but does not intend to return as a daily newspaper.

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The Big Four Building in Old Sacramento

The oldest part of the town besides Sutter's Fort is Old Sacramento. Located between J and L streets, and between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River, the Old Sacramento State Historic Park 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 has a reputation as a center for Dixieland jazz, due to the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee which is held every Memorial Day weekend.


  • Elevation: 25 feet.
  • Latitude: 38° 31' N. – Longitude: 121° 30' W.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 257.0 km² (99.2 mi²). 251.6 km² (97.2 mi²) of it is land and 5.4 km² (2.1 mi²) of it is water;2.1% of the area is water. The population in 2000 was 407,018; the 1980 population was 275,741. The city's current estimated population is around 418,000.

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 west of downtown (as West Sacramento, California) but 30 miles northeast and east, into the Sierra Nevada foothills, and 10 miles to the south into valley farmland.

Sacramento is located about 85 miles northeast of San Francisco and 135 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada on Interstate 80. It is 385 miles north of Los Angeles on Interstate 5.

Sacramento Regional Transit District operates a bus and light rail network. A commuter rail service, Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, links Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay Area. Amtrak's California Zephyr transcontinental rail service also calls at the city.

The Sacramento International Airport handles flights coming from and going to various United States destinations (including Hawaii) as well as Mexico.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 407,018 people, 154,581 households, and 91,202 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,617.4/km² (4,189.2/mi²). There are 163,957 housing units at an average density of 651.5/km² (1,687.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 48.29% White, 15.47% African American, 1.30% Native American, 16.62% Asian, 0.95% Pacific Islander, 10.96% from other races, and 6.41% from two or more races. 21.61% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Sacramento was recently named by Time Magazine as America's "Most Diverse City."

There are 154,581 households out of which 30.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% are married couples living together, 15.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% are non-families. 32.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.57 and the average family size is 3.35.

In the city the population is spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,049, and the median income for a family is $42,051. Males have a median income of $35,946 versus $31,318 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,721. 20.0% of the population and 15.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 29.5% of those under the age of 18 and 9.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


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° - 58° F (3° - 14° C). The average year has 73 days with a high over 90° F (34° C), with the highest temperature on record being 114° F (45° C) on July 17, 1925, 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, primarily in December and January.

The record snowfall was recorded on January 4, 1888, at 90 mm (3.5 in).


Neighborhood Services Area One (
Alkali Flat, Boulevard Park, Campus Commons, CSUS, Dos Rios Triangle, Downtown, East Sacramento, Mansion Flats, Marschall School, Midtown, New Era Park, Newton Booth, Old Sacramento, Poverty Ridge, Richards, Richmond Grove, River Park, Sierra Oaks, Southside Park

Neighborhood Services Area Two (
Airport, Freeport Manor, Golf Course Terrace, Greenhaven, Land Park, Little Pocket, Mangan Park, Meadowview, Parkway, Pocket, SCC, South Land Park, Upper Land Park, Valley Hi / North Laguna, Z'Berg Park

Neighborhood Services Area Three (
Alhambra Triangle, Avondale, Brentwood, Carleton Tract, Central Oak Park, College/Glen, Colonial Heights, Colonial Village, Colonial Village North, Curtis Park, Elmhurst, Fairgrounds, Florin-Fruitridge, Industrial Park, Fruitridge Manor, Glen Elder, Granite Regional Park, Hollywood Park, Lawrence Park, Med Center, North City Farms, North Oak Park, Packard Bell, South City Farms, South East, South Oak Park, Tahoe Park, Tahoe Park East, Tahoe Park South, Tallac Village, Woodbine

Neighborhood Services Area Four (
Natomas (north, south, west), Valley View Acres, Gardenland, Northgate, Woodlake, North Sacramento, Terrace Manor, Hagginwood, Del Paso Heights, Robla, McClellan Heights West, Ben Ali, and Swanston Estates.

Sister cities overseas

See also

External links


Other cities in the United States that are also called "Sacramento":
Sacramento, Colorado; Sacramento, Illinois; Sacramento, Kentucky; Sacramento, Nebraska; Sacramento, New Mexico; Sacramento, Pennsylvania.

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