So we’re not San Francisco, or Portland, or Seattle — and we’ll certainly never be a “world-class city,” whatever that means. Sacramento, California is a different sort of place from that…
Sacramento is going for a bike ride on the American River Parkway…stopping for a burrito or a burger somewhere in Midtown…and then checking out the living history day at Sutter’s Fort…or just shopping for a used book or a magazine, before reading it over coffee.
Sacramento is knowing you’re an hour and a half away from the Bay Area…so you can drop down for the fun once in a while, but you can still to afford to live here…and the best part is, you can get away from the Bay Area’s hectic pace (and traffic!) when you’re done.
Sacramento is Movies on a Big Screen, the Sac Horror Film Festival, the Trash Film Orgy, the French Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, the Japanese Film Festival, the Sac International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and much more…making more creative use of the cinematic arts than what you usually get at the multiplex.
Sacramento is having ridden light-rail on occasion, and having a story to tell about it.
Sacramento is knowing a lot of the best restaurants begin with “El” or “Los.”
Sacramento is a profusion of palm trees…in people’s front lawns, around Capitol Park, and on various streets around the city.
Sacramento is the Tower Theatre’s art deco tower, glowing red and green in the summer twilight.
Sacramento is the Chalk It Up! sidewalk chalk art festival in Fremont Park (every year, Labor Day weekend). It’s the Martin Luther King Day march and celebration. It’s the statue of Cesar Chavez in the plaza that bears his name, smiling with pleasure at the farmers’ markets and free summer outdoor concerts that provide so much enjoyment.
Sacramento is the New Chinatown, and all the little Chinese-American restaurants and stores…it’s all the Korean-American shops, restaurants and karaoke boxes in various places…it’s the Japanese-American restaurants, businesses, and the Japanese Food Bazaar at the Buddhist Church every August…and it’s most definitely all the ethnically diverse businesses and people in our newly named Little Saigon, along lower Stockton Boulevard.
Sacramento is getting a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone at the California State Fair…after stopping by the Counties Exhibits to see if your home county had a display this year…and then heading to the exhibits of fine art, folk art, and the work of students from around the state…with the air full of live music and the sounds of people enjoying the rides.
Sacramento is the Lady Adams Building, the mural inside the Amtrak Station (see above), the Citizen Hotel, the historic City Hall, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the former Public Market building (now the lobby of the Sheraton Grand, at 13th and J), the Memorial Auditorium, the Leland Stanford Mansion, Sutter’s Fort…and of course, the State Capitol.
Sacramento is its history, and all those who came before us…the Nisenan tribes who lived here before the arrival of European-Americans…miners headed off to the gold fields…the people who built the railroads…the farmers, the canners, the railroad shop workers…the writers and artists…the ordinary people of all types of occupation and of all kinds…and of course, all those past governors, legislators, and state workers.
Sacramento is its people today…still reeling from a bad economy, still worried about their jobs and how to pay the rent or the mortgage, discouraged to read and hear about budget cutbacks and faithless owners of certain local sports teams…but for all that, still soldiering on, keeping up their spirits, and doing their best to enjoy all that life in our city has to offer.
Sacramento is also its future…planned for, hoped for, and dreamed of…or perhaps left unconsidered by short-term thinking…as always, unseeable, unknowable and in many ways unpredictable…and to a degree, determined by events beyond the control of the city and its people…but nevertheless coming, unavoidably, as with each new day the future becomes the present, and decisions made yesterday shape our tomorrows, piece by tiny piece.
Sacramento is the dry summer heat of an August day…the chill of a foggy December morning…the soft patter of a cool February rain…the blossoms on trees as winter slowly turns to spring…and the lush green of our urban forest as the trees burst forth with leaves in the warmth of May. It is seeing the crisp snow on the Sierras in winter…and all year long, the vast expanse of the valley all around us.
Sacramento is feeling the cool Delta breeze on a summer’s evening after a hot day, strolling through Old Sacramento, listening to the sights and sounds of the river, and of life in the city…
Sacramento may not be perfect, of course, but it can be whatever we want to make it. There are lots of things to enjoy here…all you have to do is get out and look for them.