The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Sacramento (city)
SACRAMENTO, a city and the capital of California, county seat of Sacramento co., the second city in the state in population and importance, 83 m. by the California Pacific railroad and 139 m. by the Central Pacific railroad E. N. E. of San Francisco; lat. 38° 33' N., lon. 121° 20' W.; pop. in 1850, 6,820; in 1860, 13,785; in 1870, 16,283, of whom 6,202 were foreigners, including 1,370 Chinese; in 1875, locally estimated at 24,000, of whom 2,000 were Chinese. It is situated in an extensive plain on the E. bank of the Sacramento river, here spanned by a fine bridge, immediately S. of the mouth of the American river, and is one of the handsomest cities W. of the Rocky mountains. The streets are wide and straight, and cross each other at right angles. Those running E. and W. are named by the letters of the alphabet; those crossing them N. and S. are numbered. The shops and stores are mostly of brick, the dwellings mostly of wood and surrounded by gardens. Shade trees are abundant. The streets in the business portion are paved with Nicolson pavement and cobblestones. The city is supplied with gas, and water is pumped up from the Sacramento river, and distributed through the streets in pipes. The climate is semi-tropical, and a luxuriant growth of flowers and shrubs may be seen in the open air at all times of the year.
The only important public building is the state capitol, one of the finest structures of the kind in the United States. It is situated almost in the heart of the city, and the grounds cover 18 blocks, beautifully laid out with trees, shrubs, and flowers. The Oregon division of the Central Pacific railroad, which runs to Redding, 170 m. N., connecting by stage coaches with the Oregon and California railroad for Portland, Or., brings to Sacramento a vast, amount of trade from N. California, embracing the best grain-growing section of the state. The Placerville and Sacramento Valley railroad, extending to Shingle Springs, El Dorado co., 48 m., brings immense quantities of bowlders and granite for the San Francisco market, and also of marble from the Indian Diggings quarries. This is the only marble of any consequence yet discovered on the Pacific coast; it is of fine quality, and is extensively used in San Francisco and Sacramento. Steamers run to San Francisco, Marysville, and various points on the Sacramento river. The chief manufactories are one of agricultural implements, one of carriages, one of brandy, one of beet sugar, two of chiccory, one of furniture, one of pails, tubs, and wash boards, several box factories and planing mills, smelting and refining works for the reduction of ores, a woollen mill, and three flouring mills. The machine, repair, and car shops, rolling mills, &c., of the Central Pacific railroad employ from 1,000 to 1,500 hands. There are three banks incorporated under state law, combining a savings and commercial business, and a national gold bank. There are 19 public schools (1 high, 1 grammar, 5 intermediate, and 12 primary), a female college, and a normal school; a Roman Catholic college, under the charge of the Christian brothers; a conventual school, under the charge of the sisters of mercy; and a number of private schools. The state library in the capitol has more than 35,000 volumes, and the Sacramento library, in a fine building belonging to the association, about 7,000. The state agricultural society has ample accommodations for the exhibition of stock and one of the finest race courses in the world. It holds a fair annually about the middle of September. Three daily, two semi-weekly (one German), and two weekly newspapers and a monthly periodical are published. There are 14 churches, viz.: Baptist (3), Christian, Congregational, Episcopal, German Lutheran, Latter Day Saints', Methodist (3), Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Spiritualist.—The first white settlement on the site of Sacramento was made in 1839 by J. A. Sutter, a Swiss by birth, but a naturalized American citizen, who obtained a grant of 11 square leagues of land, in 1841 built a fort which he called New Helvetia, took the neighboring Indians into his service, collected a few white men, and, by virtue of his remote position and the number of his adherents, secured influence and importance in the territory. This fort was the first point in California reached by immigrants crossing the continent. In 1848 nearly all persons going to the mines went up the Sacramento river in boats to New Helvetia, and thence proceeded by land. With the increase of the mining population and the gold yield the trade and importance of New Helvetia kept pace, and in October, 1848, there was an auction sale of lots in the town of " Sacramento," which was first named in the advertisement of the sale. In January, 1849, the first frame house on the bank of the Sacramento was commenced. The site of the city was originally only about 15 ft. above low-water mark, and as the river frequently rises 20 ft. it was subjected to overflow. In January, 1850, in March, 1852, and in January, 1853, the city was flooded so that boats were used in going from house to house, some of the streets having 5 ft. of water in them, and not more than a dozen houses being on land above the water level. To prevent similar disasters the streets were filled in 5 ft. deep with earth, and the city surrounded by a levee, which last alone saved the place from overflow during the flood in the spring of 1861. The business portion of the city is now about 8 ft. above the original level. On Nov. 3, 1852, a conflagration destroyed 600 houses and other property, in all estimated to be worth $5,000,000; and in July, 1854, another large fire occurred, the loss by which was estimated at $650,000. The capital was established at Sacramento by an act of the legislature on Feb. 25, 1854; and in 1861 the work was commenced on the capitol, the officers having previously occupied the present county buildings. Sacramento was incorporated as a city in 1863.