. A Sacramento history lesson in Old Sacramento : Budget Travel Adventures

A Sacramento history lesson in Old Sacramento

Sacramento history Historical Timeline of Sacramento muralHistory class.  Like most people in school, I spent time memorizing names, dates, and important historical events.  I didn’t hate history but it wasn’t my favorite subject.  I even took two college classes on US and European history when I was in high school and did well in both classes.

So what better way to get people excited about travel and the Explore Sacramento! series than to talk about the history of Sacramento right?  After all, tourists come from miles around to visit Old Sacramento, attend lectures on Sacramento’s history, and spend every minute of their visit pouring over books about the city’s history.

OK, so maybe that is stretching the truth a little.  However, Sacramento’s history matters – for the city and the state of California.

Sacramento history and California tourism

Millions of people come to California every year to visit places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, San Diego beaches on the sunny California coast, explore the mighty Redwoods, or hike and play in Yosemite.  With places like this, why does history matter?

I didn’t care much for history until I started to travel.  That’s when I realized it made places come alive.  History helps you understand and appreciate what you are seeing.  While the sites and attractions may be the masterpiece, history is the paint brush which adds strokes of color with vibrant splashes of green, blue, red, and yellow to make the masterpiece come alive.  Without history, you can’t appreciate this masterpiece with all of your senses.  As a young child, I didn’t appreciate the full beauty of art – or history.

Sacramento’s history is California’s history.  For it is the history that has laid the foundation for all the other places in the state.  To appreciate Sacramento is to appreciate its history because it is such a vital part of exploring and seeing the sights, sounds, and beauty of this city.

Last week, I featured some photos and the wonders of the California State Capitol where you could learn and explore much of California’s beauty and history outdoors.  Now the real history lesson begins.

A Sacramento history lesson in Old Sacramento

In this day and age of the internet and the desire for quick, easy, summaried guidebook information, a true appreciation for a place’s history may be lost.  Rather than study and learn, it’s so easy to look things up and get a cliff notes version of what you need to know about where you are going.

One thing Sacramento has done well is to combine one of its most popular tourist sites with a Sacramento history lesson aimed at people of all types – locals, tourists, those on the go (Sacramento for dummies), and those with ADD.

Old Sacramento is rich in living history going back to the Gold Rush and Old West days with its waterfront and wild west look and feel.  Whether spending time in Old Sacramento or making your way to the more modern Westfield Plaza and K Street Mall, an underground pedestrian crosswalk passing under I-5 leads you from one side to the other.  And it’s here that locals and tourists alike can take the time to learn what this city is all about.

Call it genius, luck, or coincidence but a historical timeline of Sacramento mural covers the the length of the wall as you walk through the pedestrian crosswalk.  Names, dates, events – all those things you are familiar with in your history class in a 15 minute, abridged version of Sacramento history filled with photos and faces.  Whether you are a local who passes by this timeline every day or you are a first time visitor to Sacramento, this mural is a perfect history lesson for our overstimulated, internet age, fast-paced, technology consumed brains.

Learn about people like Sam Brannan, James Marshall, and Leland Stanford.  Explore the history of the railroad and waterway and what a vital role they played.  Explore the inner workings of a community that came together to make this city happen.  Leave the capital with a greater appreciation of all the people, the sacrifices, and the pioneers that set the wheels in motion for the California and Sacramento history we know today.

Explore Sacramento! is a series that seeks to discover and explore the sites, sounds, communities, and things to do in Sacramento and northern California.

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Filed Under: CaliforniaDestinationsExplore Sacramento!Sacramento


RSSComments (23)

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  1. I agree, I love learning the history of things I’m looking at and places I’m visiting.

  2. Ramona says:

    Thanks for the info! One of our favorite Sacramento hotels is Larkspur Landing Sacramento. Great atmosphere and great special offers!

  3. Andrea says:

    I always felt like history education is pretty dumbed down – such a focus on memorizing names and dates with little room for ideas, analysis and overall comprehension. So great that you can learn more when travelling – Old Sacramento sounds like a great place for learning =)

    • I think history for our kids is dumbed down because people feel kids need to know these things. Thinking critically is important but given the current internet age and the need for fast paced information, kids may not even pay attention to history any more when they can just turn to Wikipedia to get what they need.

      What’s the saying – those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe we can say the same things about those who just don’t learn history at all.

  4. Love history, now that I’m older, and Old Town Sacramento! This made me want to visit again.

  5. Mark Wiens says:

    Like you, I also agree with the importance of history as we travel to various destination. Knowing a bit of history about the country also helps us to relate more with cultures and people. I really enjoying looking at educational murals as well – I think it’s a great way to spread information.

    • History can be just as important as understanding the culture and sites we visit. History is the foundation for these things. I actually read today where these murals were established in 1999 so this was really forward thinking and very appropriate for the day and age we live in now.

  6. Sophie says:

    I like your description of history as a paint brush adding colour (and life) to buildings, cities…

  7. Old Sacramento is pretty cool – I love the architecture and historical feel to it. :)

  8. The great thing about history is every place has it. Even places you would not think rich in historical information might have a surprisingly rich history or at least one point that is interesting.

    Case in point: I grew up in Barrington, Illinois and the gangster Baby Face Nelson was gunned down on a Barrington street corner by the FBI in the “Battle of Barrington.” Who would think a mundane place like Barrington would be the scene of the death of a famous gangster?

  9. Lisa says:

    I love the idea of the mural. You’re right once you travel history become far more important and interesting.

  10. Gray says:

    You are talking my language, Jeremy. I love how history puts a place in context….and being in the place brings history to life. I know that deep down, I’d have hated living in the Old West–too unsanitary, too dangerous, too wild–but I can’t help but get sucked into the romance of it anyway. I think I’d love Sacramento. :-)

    • I can’t say that I love history now but I definitely have more appreciate for it now and love learning more about a place when I travel.

      As for the Old West side of Sacramento, it only feels that way now. Everything is modern now despite the look. You would be OK. :)

  11. robin says:

    Another typically thorough post and a great point about travel encouraging an interest in history. History is so often the principal explanation for why a place is as it is – such a shame to overlook that aspect.

    • Thanks Robin. It’s interesting to learn more about where I live and gain a greater appreciation of the history of Sacramento. Traveling has made me appreciate history much more than I did as a kid.

  12. agree that learning about the history just adds to the appeal of the place you’re visiting. By learning about the history of Taj Mahal, the site just came alive to us as we appreciated the details and the architecture more, knowing the history behind it.

    • History is great about giving us the background on a place. However, it’s interesting to see the things beyond that that inspire us. Architecture is not something I pay a lot of attention to but I respect those that really notice that side of things when they travel.

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