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About the City of Sacramento
The City of Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, was founded in 1849, and is the oldest incorporated city in California. In 1920, Sacramento City voters adopted a City Charter (municipal constitution) and a City Council-City Manager form of government, which are still used today.
The City Council consists of a Mayor elected by all City voters, and Councilmembers elected to represent the eight separate Council districts in the City. Each district is a separate geographical area with a population of about 51,000 residents. Each Councilmember must be a registered voter and live in the district they represent. Elected members serve 4 year terms and elections are staggered every two years in even numbered years. (Council District Information, including summary report of population and racial statistics).
The Council establishes City policies, ordinances, and land uses; approves the City's annual budget, contracts, and agreements; hears appeals of decisions made by City staff or citizen advisory groups; and appoints four Charter Officers, a City Manager, City Attorney, City Treasurer, and City Clerk. Councilmembers serve on several working committees, such as Law and Legislation, and Personnel and Public Employees. In 2002, City voters amended the City Charter and established a Compensation Commission to set the compensation for the Mayor, Council members and public members of City boards and commissions. This Charter Amendment also established the Mayor's position as a full-time job.
The City Council holds public meetings most Tuesday afternoons and evenings (at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively) in the City Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall, 915 I Street in downtown Sacramento. The Council also holds special meetings and committee meetings which are open to the public. Agendas for City Council and Council committee meetings are available online and in the City Clerk's Office, Room 211 of City Hall.
The City also has a Legislative Affairs Unit; it's primary purpose is to advocate, coordinate and advance the City's legislative agenda to enhance the City's ability to govern and provide essential municipal and community services.
The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill capped off the greatest human migration in American history. Thousands of hopeful pioneers headed towards Mexican California on the Oregon Trail in search of a better life. From the settlement town of Old Sacramento, to the supply center and trade post of Sutter’s Fort, the Sacramento region is rich in Gold Rush History.
As you enter this 28-acre town of historic buildings constructed in the early 1800s, you’ll step back in time to the California Gold Rush era. Pioneers first settled along the banks of the Sacramento River, a main traffic route for supplies. Regular flooding and subsequent disease made the early years difficult and implored the settlers to take on the ambitious task of raising the street level twelve feet. Today, after strong preservation efforts, the nostalgic appeal of early American history is reflected perfectly by the wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, old-fashioned candy shops and Mississippi-style riverboats. History comes to life through interactive experiences, such as taking a ride on a steam engine train, seeing what a one-roomed schoolhouse looked like, or dressing in period costumes for an old-fashioned photo.
Considering the adventurous and ambitious spirit inherent of the pioneers, it is no surprise that some famous names got their start in Sacramento. For example, the influence of the "Big Four" of western railroading (Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington and Charles Crocker) is evident throughout the city. The Big Four Building in Old Sacramento includes the Huntington Hopkins Hardware Store Museum and Stanford Gallery. B.F. Hastings opened as a bank in April 1853 that is now a museum housing a reconstructed Supreme Court, Wells Fargo Bank and the Pony Express.
Adventurous ambition was truly crystallized by the riders for the Pony Express. A monument stands in Old Sacramento honoring the dare-deviled orphans who conquered the challenging trip from St. Louis, Missouri to the Western Terminus in Sacramento. 500 horses, 200 relay stations, 80 riders, and 10 days was the standard for the legendary, albeit short-lived, Pony Express. Rounding out a history buff’s experience to the original settlement area is the audio-guided tour. With nine information stations, recordings by a Mark Twain impersonator chronicle the historic events and buildings of Old Sacramento.
Old Sacramento is also home to the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM). This is the most comprehensive collection of trains and other related artifacts in North America with incredibly knowledgeable docents eager to share railroad history. At the Railroad Museum, visitors walk through this remarkable chapter in history, from the grueling task of laying tracks to boarding the deluxe cars that graced the Western United States. The Discovery History Museum Center offers yet another opportunity to learn about California history with special presentations on the Gold Rush, newspaper business and agriculture industries.
Long before the development of Old Sacramento, Native Americans populated the area. The Nisenan lived in the Sacramento valley for 10,000 years before any other settlers arrived. By 1833, however, a smallpox epidemic killed 20,000 Nisenan in the valley leaving the population vulnerable. And so, Sacramento’s modern history actually begins in 1839 when Johann Augustus Sutter landed on the banks of the Sacramento River. He received a 48,000-acre land grant of Mexican California from Governor Alvarado of Mexico and built the adobe trading post known as Sutter’s Fort. The fort was Sacramento's earliest settlement and served many purposes. Sutter would trade with Indians, raise livestock and act as a representative of the Mexican government. When James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, Sutter’s Fort became invaluable to pioneers. Tour the State Historic Park for a glimpse into Gold Rush life at the fort, including exhibit rooms of copper and blacksmith's shops, a bakery, prison, dining room and living quarters.
Moving through history, the Historic City Cemetery was established in 1849 and is the last resting place for over 20,000 early Sacramentans, including John A. Sutter Jr., Edwin and Margaret Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. Guided and self-guided tours are available. St. Paul's Episcopal Church is home to Sacramento's oldest congregation, with Tiffany stained glass windows and a rare Johnson Tracker organ and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament features a 217-foot tower built in 1889. Its prominent architectural design echoes of 19th century Paris with stained glass from Austria.
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