California's oldest incorporated city, Sacramento first began in 1839 when Swiss immigrant John Sutter built a fort near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers for the purpose of establishing a settlement. When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, gold seekers came from all over the world, and the town of Sacramento grew on the banks of the Sacramento River. Repeatedly flooded during the early years, Sacramento raised its streets 12 feet between 1864 and 1873 and began construction of a system of levees to protect the town from seasonally rising waters.
The city grew eastward from the banks of the Sacramento River, and was designated California's fifth state capital in 1854. As commercial development thrived, elegant homes and lavish mansions were built nearby. New neighborhoods sprung up with each passing year-from pre-Civil War "Gothic Revival" structures, to Victorian-era homes and mansions, to a classic and widespread collection of "Arts & Crafts" and classical revival homes-all cloaked under a canopy of mature shade trees. Today, Sacramento offers an unparalleled experience for fans of architecture.
The majestic California State Capitol, completed in 1874, is modeled after the United States Capitol. Completely restored in 1982, the Capitol today offers tours of its original West Wing portion. As the terminus of America's first transcontinental railroad, Sacramento became a supply and shipping hub for the agricultural valley that surrounded it. Food processing became a major industry, and the city became home to the main shops of not only the Southern Pacific Railroad but also the Western Pacific Railroad. To learn more about the region's history, visit the Explore & Learn portion of this Web site.
Today Sacramento has become a modern city, with skyscrapers, fine dining, arts & culture, and nightlife. It serves as a "Gateway to the Gold Country" for national and international tourists, and hosts a number of major events and festivals throughout the year.