United States of America
Sacramento, capital city of California and seat of Sacramento County, located in
the central part of the state in the fertile Sacramento Valley. Sacramento is situated
at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River. The state’s seventh-largest
city at the 2000 census, Sacramento was the gateway to the mining regions during
the California gold rush of 1849 and long has been one of the West’s leading commercial
and transportation centers. The city takes its name from the Sacramento River, named
by early Spanish explorers in honor of the Christian sacraments.
Sacramento and Its Metropolitan Area
The city of Sacramento covers a land area of 249.4 sq km (96.3 sq mi). Old Sacramento,
a collection of restored and reconstructed buildings from the mid-19th century,
is along the eastern bank of the Sacramento River and has a mean elevation of 9.1
m (30.0 ft). On the north side of this historic district stands the California State
Railroad Museum, which traces the history of American railroading. Three blocks
south of Old Sacramento is the Crocker Art Museum, the oldest art museum in the
West, whose private collection and building were donated to the public in 1885 by
the museum founders. The city’s central thoroughfare is Capitol Avenue, leading
from the river to the restored state capitol building (completed in 1874) and its
surrounding park. On both sides of this broad boulevard are high-rise office buildings.
Northeast of the capitol is the expanded Sacramento Convention Center. A dozen blocks
farther east is Sutter’s Fort, marking the location of the first white settlement
in the area in 1839.
The Sacramento primary metropolitan area includes Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer
counties. Much of the metropolitan area is unincorporated; cities in the region
include Auburn, Folsom, Placerville, Rocklin, and Roseville. Yolo County, which
is part of the larger consolidated metropolitan statistical area, also includes
West Sacramento, Davis, and Woodland.
Some of the richest farmlands in the nation surround Sacramento. Sacramento serves
as the region’s principal marketing, processing, and shipping center for a wide
variety of agricultural products. Most of the area’s nonagricultural labor force
works in manufacturing and service activities, including government and commerce.
The high-technology sector is becoming increasingly important. Principal manufactures
include processed foods, transportation equipment, chemicals, and electronic equipment.
The largest employers are agencies of the federal, state, and local governments.
Sacramento is the transportation hub for the interior of California. The Port of
Sacramento operates a 76-km (47-mi) ship channel that allows oceangoing ships to
reach the city. The port handles more than 1.15 million metric tons of cargo each
year and generates $54 million in annual revenues. An international airport, Sacramento
International Airport, is located north of the city. Several major highways serve
the Sacramento area. In addition, Amtrak provides regular passenger rail service
to the city, and a light-rail system links the downtown area with several surrounding
suburbs; the system was undergoing expansion in the mid-1990s.
The population of Sacramento was 407,018 in 2000. The city’s population expanded
rapidly in the second half of the 20th century, increasing from 137,572 in 1950.
Likewise, the Sacramento-Yolo consolidated metropolitan statistical area has also
increased, rising from 1,100,000 in 1980 to 1,797,000 in 2000. Newcomers were attracted
by the area’s climate, economic opportunities, and low cost of living.
According to the 2000 census, whites represent 48.3 percent of the population; Asians,
16.6 percent; blacks, 15.5 percent; Native Americans, 1.3 percent; and Native Hawaiians
and other Pacific Islanders, 0.9 percent. People of mixed heritage or not reporting
race are 17.4 percent of the population. Hispanics, who may be of any race, make
up 21.6 percent.
Education and Culture
Sacramento is one of California’s educational and cultural centers. In addition
to several private colleges and universities, including the University of the Pacific’s
McGeorge School of Law (founded in 1924), the city is the site of California State
University at Sacramento (1947). A community college is also located in the city;
two more are in the county.
Sacramento is known for its public art, which is promoted and administered by the
Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. In addition, more than 100 galleries in
the area display the works of contemporary artists, and the Crocker Art Museum has
an excellent collection of 19th-century California paintings among its holdings.
Performing-arts groups include the Sacramento Theater Company, Sacramento Ballet,
Sacramento Symphony, Camellia Symphony, and Sacramento Opera Association. Among
the annual events in Sacramento are the Martin Luther King Community Celebration
(held in January), Chinese New Year Celebration (February), California Railroad
Festival (June), and California State Fair (August).
The city of Sacramento has more than 120 parks. The most popular is William Land
Park, site of the Sacramento Zoo. Just outside town is the American River Parkway,
a county park that offers riverside trails for bicycling, walking, and jogging,
and ample opportunities for fishing and rafting. ARCO Arena is home of the Sacramento
Kings of the National Basketball Association and the Sacramento Monarchs of the
Women's National Basketball Association, as well as roller hockey and indoor soccer
Sacramento is governed by an eight-member city council and a mayor, elected by the
voters to serve four-year terms. The mayor is elected on a citywide basis, while
the council members are elected by district. The council hires a city manager as
the city’s chief administrative officer. The city also is the seat of government
of Sacramento County, which is governed by an elected board of five county supervisors.
The Nisenan people, also known as the Southern Maidu, have lived for thousands of
years in the Sacramento Valley. The first nonnative resident of the area was John
A. Sutter, a Swiss immigrant who received a land grant from the Mexican government
in 1839. Sutter built a fort on the site of present-day Sacramento and called his
settlement New Helvetia. In 1848 James Wilson Marshall, Sutter's partner in a lumber
mill, discovered gold at the mill, which was located in Coloma, northeast of New
Helvetia. Despite attempts by Sutter and Marshall to keep the discovery a secret,
the area was soon overrun by gold seekers.
The town of Sacramento developed as a commercial and transportation center during
the California gold rush. The city incorporated in 1850 and became the state capital
in 1854. Six years later Sacramento became the western terminus of the Pony Express.
Construction of the first transcontinental railroad began in the city in 1863.
The city continued to grow throughout the early 20th century. Its leading industry
was the processing and canning of agricultural products. During and after World
War II (1939-1945), Sacramento’s economy became more diverse. The downtown area
was revitalized in the 1960s and 1970s by a massive urban-renewal project.
Sacramento was hit hard by the national recession of the 1990s, which was made worse
for the region by the closure of several local military bases. The gradual conversion
of these facilities to peacetime use and the growth of high-technology industries
helped the city recover.