Friday, March 27, 2009

Hollow Sidewalks Survey Workshop

Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Time: 5:30-7:30
Location: Historic City Hall, 2nd Floor Hearing Room, 915 I Street

On Tuesday, March 31, the city of Sacramento invites downtown property owners and community members to a Public Workshop to find out about the Raised Streets-Hollow Sidewalks Historic Survey. Join the Public Workshop, learn about the survey and ask questions.
This survey, funded by a local nonprofit and a matching state grant, is intended to document all of the surviving "Underground Sidewalk" spaces in downtown Sacramento.

In the 1860s and 1870s, Sacramento's Board of Trustees undertook a project to raise downtown Sacramento's streets above flood levels by building brick walls at the edges of every street and filling those walls with dirt. This resulted in streets as much as 12 feet higher than their original level. Building owners either used teams of screw jacks to elevate their building to the new street level or simply made their original second floor into the new ground floor. Because the building owners were responsible for the space between their building and the street, most built brick vaults over the sidewalk area, leaving the old sidewalk as a covered but accessible underground space. Most of the street raising was done between approximately I and L Street, from Front Street along the river to 12th Street to the east.

Over the intervening 130 years of development, new construction and road projects have destroyed or damaged much of the original underground sidewalk areas, to the point where only a handful remain. This survey will document surviving remnants and research the methods used to build these structures. The survey will have many potential uses, possibly including the creation of a historic district, or facilitating an "Underground Sidewalks Tour" program similar to that found in Seattle and other cities. For those interested in learning more about the survey, the methods used, or those who hope to take a peek inside the history of Sacramento, this public workshop should be very instructive.

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