In comparison with California’s large metro areas along the coast, Sacramento may be a smaller but not a less important city. Sacramento is not only the central point of a metropolitan area with more than 2.5 million people, but also California’s capital since 1854 and thus the home of the most important public authorities and of the Governor. Sacramento is located in the Central Valley and at the confluence of Sacramento River and American River. Via a port and a channel, the city is connected to the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Around the year 1900, the region was being discovered by Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga, who named the valley and the river after the Spanish word for “sacrament”. Swiss pioneer John Sutter built a fort here in 1840 and eight years later, when gold had been found in the area and expectations for a soon-to-follow onrush of gold seekers were high, his son John Jr. founded the town. It did not take long for the young town to have more than 10,000 residents and only six years after its founding and four years after California had joined the Union, it was declared the state’s capital. Thanks to this important role, Sacramento initially became the final stop of the Pony Express and later of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Because the city was flooded repeatedly, in the 1860s all buildings were lifted by one story. What had been ground floors before now became cellars which became linked to one another by a network of tunnels. Remnants of the Sacramento Underground can still be found today.
While population numbers in the 20th century primarily grew due to annexations of nearby areas, another trend came into account at the turn of the century when many people relocated to Sacramento from the coastal cities because property price levels were much lower here. Additionally, a large number of immigrants came to Sacramaneto, primarily from Latin America and Asia. The city’s population today has a 20% percentage of Hispanics and a further 17% of Asian origins.
Sacramento is home to several universities and colleges and has a lively cultural scene. Next to a ballett company, a philharmonic orchestra and an opera company there are several theater stages spread throughout the city. Among these is the California Musical Theatre, which has been staging musicals in the summer season since 1951. Thier home is the Wells Fargo Pavilion. On the other hand, the performances by the Sacramento Theatre Company are dedicated to literary adaptions and dramas. The cultural offerings are being completed by a number of smaller stages as well as by the traditional Sacramento Shakespeare Festival, which also strives to include Sacramento residents by means of workshops and smaller performances on neighborhood stages. Further entries in Sacramento’s events calendar are the French Film Festival in July and most notably the high-profile music festival Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world. It takes place in May and usually draws many famous guests. In addition, there is professional sports on the highest level by the NBA basketball team Sacramento Kings.
The city’s main tourist attraction is Old Sacramento, that’s a neighborhood with carefully renovated historic buildings built in the 19th century, where there are now bars, restaurants and shops. Among those buildings are the former final station of the Pony Express, the B.F. Hastings Bank Building and the Big Four House, where four famous entrepreneurs once founded the Southern Pacific Railroad.