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Sacramento History Comes Alive


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Sacramento is home to some of the most stunning examples of historic properties in California. Throughout its nearly 170-year history, many of these buildings, landmarks, and historic districts have seen the city rise from its beginnings as a Gold Rush hub to an epicenter of transportation and innovation then into one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Discover some of the historic buildings that Sacramento has already restored and repurposed, and a few of the exciting adaptive reuse projects that are underway.

Railyards Central Shops

Established in 1862, the Central Shops were the largest industrial complex west of the Rocky Mountains.

For 80 years, the Central Shops were the largest single employer in the Central Valley, employing one in every four Sacramento workers.

Crocker Art Museum

In 1868, Judge Edwin B. Crocker and his wife, Margaret Crocker, purchased land and existing buildings on the corner of O and 3rd Streets. The home was renovated into a grand mansion and an elaborate adjacent gallery to house the family’s growing art collection.

Powerhouse Science Center

The PG&E Powerhouse is a formidable concrete and steel structure overlooking the Sacramento river.

Constructed in 1912, the industrial power plant was designed by Willis Polk, a notable Bay Area architect who designed the station in the Classical Revival/ Beaux-Arts style that was consistent with many public utility buildings of the era.

Delta King

It may not be a traditional building, but the Delta King is a Sacramento icon that embodies the concept of “new growth from old roots.”

In 1927, the 285-foot Delta King riverboat and her twin sister, the Delta Queen, began daily river voyages between Sacramento and San Francisco.

In their glory days, the King and Queen took passengers on a 10 ½ hour journey, full of prohibition-era gambling, drinking, jazz, and fine dining.

When the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were constructed in 1937 and 1938, the era of the riverboats came to an end. By 1940, both boats were out of business.

Sacramento History The Railyard
Sacramento Valley Station

Sacramento may have been born of the Gold Rush, but it was the railroad industry that lead to its growth and expansion. Despite being the hub of the western railroad industry since its inception, Sacramento didn’t have a proper train station until 1926.

The Sacramento Valley Station has been in continuous operation since it’s opening in 1926.

The original facility – featuring 6 butterfly-canopy platforms with a coach servicing yard between the platforms and the mainline tracks south of the shops – survived the downturn of rail passenger ridership in the mid-century. Today, it’s the 7th busiest train station in the U.S.

Upon its 1926 debut, the train station was considered a “state-of-the-art” facility and celebrated as one of the greatest stations in the west.

In 2006, the City of Sacramento purchased the station with the intention of making it the anchor of a long-awaited multi-modal transportation hub.

The Sacramento Intermodal Transportation Facility is a master-planned, multi-phase project aimed at providing user-friendly connections for all types of travel: train, light rail, bus, bicycle, pedestrian, taxi and automobile.

The second phase of this project included the renovation of the historic train depot. The $33M renovation included the rehabilitation and restoration of historic features of the “classic American rail station”. New tenant lease opportunities will welcome small- and mid-size businesses to the station.

More than 1.2 million passengers pass through the Sacramento Valley Station annually, and this number is only expected to grow as the station is transformed to welcome more businesses, modes of transportation, and travelers in the future.

New Growth from Old Roots

In Sacramento, historic buildings and landmarks are getting the restoration they deserve in order to stand tall for the next century - or longer. These buildings and landmarks are being adaptively repurposed to meet the needs of residents and visitors today and tomorrow.

Which historic Sacramento transformation is your favorite?