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Encyclopedia > Sacramento, CA
Location of Sacramento in California

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. Sacramento was an outgrowth of Sutter's Fort which was established by his father Captain John Sutter in 1839. During the gold rush Sacramento was a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and terminus for wagon train, stagecoach, riverboat, telegraph, Pony Express, and the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Sacramento from near the Sacramento River


  • 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 km (99.2 mi). 251.6 km (97.2 mi) of it is land and 5.4 km (2.1 mi) 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 popultion is around 418,000.

The City is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River, and is a deepwater port via a channel to Suisun Bay and San Francisco. It is the shipping, rail, processing, and marketing center for the Sacramento Valley, where fruit, vegetables, rice, wheat, and dairy goods are produced, cattle are raised, and food processing is a major industry.

Much of the land to the west of the City is reserved for a flood control basin. As a result, the greater metropolitan area sprawls only four miles west of downtown but 20 miles northeast and east, into the Sierra Nevada foothills, and another 10 miles to the south into valley farmland.

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

Sacramento Regional Transit 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 Hawai'i) and to/from Mexico.


Past and Present Mayors

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 Sutter's Fort (also called New Helvetia) in 1840. Gold was subsequently discovered in Sutter's Mill (located in nearby Coloma) in 1848, leading to a large increase in population as gold-seekers came to the area. 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, that were 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 enlarge the overall greater Sacramento area to a much larger size.

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 1850's the Sacramento valley was devastated by floods, fires and from cholera epidemics. Despite this, because of its position just downstream from the Mother Lode in the Sierra Nevada, the newfound city grew, quickly reaching a population of 10,000.

Capital City

California's Capitol

After a few years of wandering throughout the State, the California Legislature named Sacramento as the permanent home of the State Capital in 1854. Built to be reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., this Renaissance Revival style granite building was not completed until 1874. With its newfound 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 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 watersports. The American River is off limits to boats and has become an international attraction for rafters. 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' , which for a long time lay on the bottom of the river, was refurbished and is now a popular 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, Mr. William G. 'Bill' Stone (later considered "The Father of the Port of Sacramento") convinced the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to restudy 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, signed 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, with the ground breaking ceremony in 1949.

The first major storage facility at the port was a 500,000 bushel (18,000 m) capacity grain elevator. This was later expanded to 875,000 bushels (31,000 cubic meters) and received its first truck shipments of wheat in 1950. On June 29th, 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. Its destination was Okinawa. Carried on deck were 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

Capitol Mall

The current mayor is Heather Fargo.

The city 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 was host to 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 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, founded as the Sacramento State College in 1947, with a 2000 enrollment of around 27,000. The Los Rios Community College District hosts several 2-year colleges- American River College, Consumnes 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 (www.sacbee.com), founded in 1857. Its rival, The Sacramento Union (www.sacunion.com)* started publishing six years earlier, in 1851. Before it closed its doors in 1994, it was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi. The Union also had a familiar reporter -- Mark Twain, who worked at the Union in 1866. Recently, The Sacramento Union has re-opened its doors as a high-quality, monthly magazine and as a professionally-designed and maintained website (www.sacunion.com)

The Big Four Building in Old Sacramento

The oldest part of the town, other than Sutter's Fort, lies on J to L Streets between the Sacramento River and Interstate 5, and is now known as Old Sacramento. It forms the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Many buildings from the 1860s on have been either preserved, restored or reconstructed, and the district is now a substantial tourist attraction, with rides on steam-hauled historic trains and paddle steamers available.

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 a National Historic Landmark.

Sacramento has a reputation as a center for "free jazz", due to the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee which is held every Memorial weekend.


As of the census2 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/km (4,189.2/mi). There are 163,957 housing units at an average density of 651.5/km (1,687.5/mi). 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.

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 characterised by mild winters and dry summers. The area usually has low humidity. Light rain usually occurs between December and February. The average temperature throughout the year is 16 C (61 F), with the daily average ranging from 8 C (46 F) in December and January to 24 C (76 F) in July. Daily high temperatures range from 12 C (53 F) in December and January to 34 C (93 F) in July. Daily low temperatures range from 3 to 14 C (38 to 58 F). The average year has 73 days with a high over 32 C (90 F), with the highest temperature on record being 46 C (114 F) on July 17, 1925, and 18 days when the low drops below 0 C (32 F), with the coldest day on record being December 11, 1932, at -8 C (17 F).

Average yearly precipitation is 442 mm (17.4 in), with almost no rain during the summer months, to an average rainfall of 94 mm (3.7 in) in January. It rains on average 58 days of the year. In February of 1992, Sacramento had 16 consecutive days of rain (163 mm, 6.41 in). A record 184 mm (7.24 in) 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 (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/ns/area1/)
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 (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/ns/area2/)
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 (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/ns/area3/)
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 (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/ns/area4/)
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.

External links

  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=38.555605&longitude=-121.468926&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=38.555605&lon=-121.468926&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-121.468926&lat=38.555605&w=750&h=500)

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

Counties and Largest Cities in California
Cities: Anaheim | Bakersfield | Fremont | Fresno | Glendale | Huntington Beach | Long Beach | Los Angeles | Modesto | Oakland | Oxnard | Riverside | Sacramento | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Jose | Santa Ana | Stockton
Counties: Alameda | Alpine | Amador | Butte | Calaveras | Colusa | Contra Costa | Del Norte | El Dorado | Fresno | Glenn | Humboldt | Imperial | Inyo | Kern | Kings | Lake | Lassen | Los Angeles | Madera | Marin | Mariposa | Mendocino | Merced | Modoc | Mono | Monterey | Napa | Nevada | Orange | Placer | Plumas | Riverside | Sacramento | San Benito | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Joaquin | San Luis Obispo | San Mateo | Santa Barbara | Santa Clara | Santa Cruz | Shasta | Sierra | Siskiyou | Solano | Sonoma | Stanislaus | Sutter | Tehama | Trinity | Tulare | Tuolumne | Ventura | Yolo | Yuba |

State Capitals of the United States

Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming

  Results from FactBites:
CresaPartners - Corporate Real Estate Service Advisors (523 words)
The Greater Sacramento Area’s strong business growth and development can be traced to 1980, when the population of the region reached one million.
Sacramento was recently ranked as the tenth fastest growing city in the United States.
Sacramento is the state capital of California—the 6th largest economy in the world—and home to a diverse and expanding economy.
Sacramento, CA - definition of Sacramento, CA in Encyclopedia (2276 words)
Sacramento is the county seat of Sacramento County, California and the capital of the U.S. state of California.
Sacramento was an outgrowth of Sutter's Fort which was established by his father Captain John Sutter in 1839.
Sacramento is located around 85 miles northeast of San Francisco on Interstate 80 and 135 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada on Interstate 80; It is 385 miles north of Los Angeles on Interstate 5.
  More results at FactBites »



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