Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 43

1869 COMPLETION OF THE CENTRAL PACIFIC RAILROAD On May 10, a golden spike completed the transcontinen- tal railroad and “put Sacramento in the national transpor- tation network and made the city a terminus for people, freight, mail, and locally grown produce headed for the tables of the East,” explains Steven M. Avella in “Sacra- mento: Indomitable City.” In just two decades, the city’s population tripled — from 9,000 in 1850 to 27,000 in 1870 — and more trains meant more growth and more demand for housing. Albert Gallatin’s mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century, ultimately served as the Governor’s Mansion until the late 1960s. 1880s THE VICTORIAN ERA Tents are out, mansions are in. The ritzy streets of downtown became dotted with luxurious Victorian homes, such as the residence of Albert Gallatin, on 16th and H streets. “The home embodied many of the finest features of Sacramento’s Victorians with gilded ceil- ings, hardwood floors, and odd shaped rooms,” writes Avella. In 1903, Gallatin’s mansion would become the governor’s residence until 1967, when “California First Lady Nancy Reagan refused to live in ‘the old fire trap.’” 1900 BIRTH OF THE ELECTRIC STREETCAR Thanks to this new technology, it was possible to work down- town and commute to new houses in the “streetcar suburbs” like Oak Park. The city begins expanding outward, and the homes follow. 1910 LEVEE BREAKTHROUGH “The really big levee improvement projects happened around 1910,” says Burg, adding that they were possible only through government investment. The new levees, like the streetcar, ex- panded the area for housing. 1923 GETTING INTO THE ZONES The City of Sacramento begins to carve out different zones, which would eventually become known as categories like R-1: Single-Family Residential Zone, C-2: General Commercial Zone and M-2: Heavy Industrial Zone. This would have repercussions for the next hundred years, and critics now argue not enough of the map is allocated to housing. “The big glaring issue is that we haven’t built enough homes. The supply of housing is not enough to meet demand,” says David Garcia, policy director at UC Berke- ley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. “I always come back to land use and zoning. If you can only build houses in small sections of your city, you’re setting yourself up for scarcity. The legacy of that continues today.” 1925 BUILDING BOOM Back in the 1920s, though, the map still had plenty of untapped space as the city expanded to East Sacramento, then a new sub- urb. Developers Charles Wright and Howard Kimbrough create a large, tree-lined, villa-filled subdivision at the time called Tract 24, and would later be known as the Fabulous Forties. Sacramen- to’s population surged by over 50 percent in the Roaring ’20s, from 91,000 in 1920 to 142,000 in 1930. 1929 STOCK MARKET CRASH Sacramento enters the Great Depression. By 1932, 27,000 of the county’s 140,000 residents were out of work. A winter storm destroyed crops of citrus fruits, forcing canneries, a primary em- ployer, to drop employee compensation to 20 cents per hour. (For perspective, at the time, the average plumber earned $1.45 per hour.) The housing market freezes. Construction stops. Mortgag- es go unpaid; by 1933, half of all Americans were behind on their payments. Thousands of Sacramento residents, now homeless, gathered in shantytowns like Shooksville (near the city inciner- ator) and a muddy area near 20th Street called the Rattlesnake January 2019 | 43