Uncovering the History of Sacramento - The Capital of California

Sacramento, the capital of California, is also the seventh-largest city in the state. It became the capital of the state in the year 1879. However, since the city adopted its own charter in 1920 which is followed till date, it is exempted from following many rules and regulations passed in the state.
Sacramento is the oldest city to have been incorporated into the state of California. Though it became a part of California in 1850, the same year that the state came under the sovereignty of the United States of America, it was officially adopted as the state capital in 1879. It is located close to the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River. Due to its proximity to these rivers, the city has been flooded a number of times. However, due to its economic significance, every time the city has managed to spring back to assuming its role as an important center for trade and commerce.

Discovery and Development

For thousands of years the Sacramento Valley had been inhabited by native American tribes, like the Nisenan and Plains Miwok Indians, before it was discovered by a Spanish explorer between 1799 and 1808. In fact, the city derives its name from the Spanish word Sacramento, which means 'sacrament'. However, Europeans settled on this land when John Sutter arrived here from Switzerland in 1839. He established a trading port here which thrived under the protection of the Sutter Fort. Soon thereafter, deposits of gold were found in Coloma close to the fort, and the area started to get populated by gold hunters. Finally, it was John Sutter Jr., son of John Sutter, Sr., who laid the foundation of the city of Sacramento.

The city of Sacramento drew up its charter in 1849 that was recognized by the legislature of the State of California in 1850, the same year that California got its statehood. The California State Legislature was moved from Monterey to Sacramento in 1854. It was about the same time that gold deposits were discovered in Mother Lode close to Sacramento. With its new found status coinciding with the California Gold Rush, the city prospered as a major distribution point for gold. It also served as a terminus for the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad. The city started to grow and develop as an important commercial center. The same rivers that flooded the city were developed as major means of trade and transport. Today, Sacramento has evolved as a city of cultural and economic importance in the region.

Attractions

Spread over an area of 99.2 square miles, Sacramento enjoys a Mediterranean type of climate. The mild climate, along with a number of interesting places to visit, makes this city a favorable tourist destination among many. Some of the attractions of the city are:
  • Old Sacramento: This is a living museum that gives a glimpse into the life of the gold diggers allured by the California gold rush. The museums, shops, horse carriages and boat rides add to the attraction.
  • Governor's Mansion: This magnificent Victorian structure served as the house of the governors of the state from 1903 to 1967.
  • California Vietnam Veterans Memorial: This tribute to the Vietnam veterans is a constant reminder of the sacrifice made by American men and women in the Vietnam War.
  • State Capitol: Built between 1861 and 1874 in line with the United States Capitol in Washington DC, this building houses the State Legislature and the office of the Governor of California.
  • Museums: The Aerospace Museum of California, Crocker Art Museum, Fairytale Town, and Wells Fargo History Museum are just a few of the numerous museums in this city.
Besides all the attractions mentioned so far, the American River and Sacramento River also provide a number of entertainment avenues for tourists.

Despite repeated flooding and other economic failures, Sacramento remains an important economic center for its metropolitan area, that includes the counties El Dorado, Placer, and Yolo. Home to the NBA team Sacramento Kings, the city was voted as one of the most livable cities in America in 2004.
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
California State Capitol
California Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Sacramento downtown skyline during Autumn
Advertisement