Monday, April 27, 2009

SCSH Presentation: M Street and the West End

The Sacramento County Historical Society Presents:
M Street and Sacramento's West End
When: Tomorrow, April 28, 7:00 PM
Where: Sacramento Valley Medical Society Building
5380 Elvas Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95819

Cost: Free

What/Why: At this month's Sacramento County Historical Society meeting, SCHS President William Burg will present a historical perspective of the evolution of M Street/Capitol Avenue between the 1850s and the 1950s. Drawing on photographs mostly from the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center (SAMCC,) the presentation will cover the area's early residential neighborhood, featuring the homes of prominent Sacramentans like Leland Stanford and E.B. Crocker, the industries along the waterfront, and the multicultural neighborhoods that formed in the 19th and early 20th century. Finally, the presentation will review the effects of the redevelopment era on the neighborhood, and its transformation from a neighborhood into Capitol Mall.

Ample parking is available behind the building and along Elvas Avenue.

This is a presentation I originally gave to a group of architects, developers and electeds last February, on the history of M Street and how it became Capitol Mall. I had to shorten it, and even tone it down a bit, because the story of M Street and Capitol Mall is not very pretty. This presentation will be an expanded version, with more of the story of who lived in the West End and why it became the target for redevelopment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Golden Notes Online

For over 50 years, the Sacramento County Historical Society has published articles and books on local history. Originally, these were small digest-sized publications, published under the title "Golden Notes." Many are long out of print, but contain articles and information about local history that is difficult or impossible to locate anywhere else.

In order to help promote local history and share information with researchers and the general public, the Sacramento County Historical Society has made over 40 years worth of SCHS "Golden Notes" books available online, in PDF format. They represent a valuable resource for those seeking information on local history on an amazing array of subjects.

The "Golden Notes" issues can be found here:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Los Angeles citywide survey

Many people don't associate Los Angeles with historic preservation, but in many ways Los Angeles is really taking big steps to create effective preservation programs. They have an active preservation department, a preservation plan including mechanisms called Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (basically an enhanced historic district, each of which has its own citizen-organized neighborhood committee) and they are performing an extensive city-wide survey to document architectural resources in the city built as recently as 1980. Part of the purpose of the survey is to inform planning decisions: if historic resoures are already surveyed, the development process can be simplified because they don't have to take that step. All too often, the preferred method of "simplification" is to just knock it down...

The article from the LA Times:

The city's Office of Historic Resources page describing the survey project

Another LA organization I am growing very impressed with is the Los Angeles Conservancy. They are a very slick, very professional nonprofit organization whose website includes lots of great tools. They actively encourage citizens to become directly involved in research and nomination of properties, promote tours and cultural events, and have lots of neat educational and informational tools for the public.

Los Angeles Conservancy website

Los Angeles is kind of a different ballgame than Sacramento, but it is pretty impressive to see what they have done, and what could be done here in Sacramento. Considering that the city's preservation department consists of two people, and our own local preservation organizations are comparatively small, we have a way to go, although we can use Los Angeles' experience as a model for ways to promote local history, educate community and city staff and representatives.

Los Angeles is also doing other interesting things: they are spending six times the sales-tax amount per capita what we are (1 cent of each sales tax dollar, vs. 1/6 cent) on improved public transit, including rebuilding their interurban and streetcar network.