Founded by Samuel Brannan and John Augustus Sutter, Jr. in 1848, Sacramento has grown to become a major urban center. It is both the state capitol, and the county seat of government. The city’s 2013 population estimate of 479,686 makes it the 5th largest city in California and the 35th largest city in the nation. It is the home of several major universities and one professional NBA team, the Kings.
The city has a long and interesting history. The Miwok and Maidu Indians were the original inhabitants of this area. The first European visitor to the state came in 1542, but the Sacramento Valley was not explored by Europeans until the early 19th century. Later in the 19th century, gold was discovered in the region, and the city was eventually established at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers to serve as a port for gold prospectors traveling up these rivers. After California became a U.S. state, the city was eventually settled on as the state capitol in 1854. The city is also historically famous for being the home of the original Pony Express. The Pony Express was a mail delivery service that ran from the city all the way to St. Joseph, Missouri.
The city was seriously affected, like many U.S. cities, by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. By 1932, 15,000 Sacramentans were driven into unemployment. The canning industry was the first to get hit as the demand for canned goods dropped during the Great Depression. Luckily, the New Deal programs of President Franklin Roosevelt helped the area’s inhabitants recover their economic footing. The city also benefited from the post-World War II boom. In 1947, the regional campus of California State University was founded in order to meet the increase in demand for higher education.
The city has a Mediterranean climate with damp but mild winters and hot dry summers. The hottest temperatures in the summer average around 92 degrees, and the coldest temperatures in the winter average around 38 degrees. It is very rare to see snow fall in the city. There have been only 3 significant snowfalls in the downtown area since 1900. The city also has the distinction of being one of the sunniest places on the planet between July and September. It averages 14 hours and 12 minutes of sunshine per day in July.
Today, the city is diverse. The recent 2010 U.S. census estimates that 45% of the city’s population is White, 14.6% African-American, 1.1% American Indian and Alaskan native, 18.3% Asian-American, and 1.4% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander. 7.1% claim heritage from two or more races, and 26.9% are Hispanic or Latino. With such a rich history and diverse population, the area has much to offer in the way of culture and the arts. The oldest part of town contains preserved, restored, and reconstructed buildings from the 1850’s and 1860’s. Every Memorial Day, the Jazz Jubilee takes place in the old part of town and brings together people of all ages and backgrounds. The city is also home to a French film festival, which features the U.S. premiers of French films as well as the showing of classic French masterpieces. The zoo, founded in 1927, also provides a great experience for visitors to the city. One unique opportunity it provides is the chance for schools and non-profits to sleep overnight on its property and enjoy wild nature in the dark. All of these great opportunities explain why the city was rated as the 23rd most fun U.S. city in 2003.
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