A BRIEF HISTORY OF SACRAMENTO

The City of Sacramento was founded in 1849 and incorporated as a City in 1850, following a century of dramatic change.

Until Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 and asserted dominion over Alta California, the Sacramento Valley was unknown territory to all but the Miwok and other native populations, and a few European and American explorers. In the 1830’s and 1840’s, however, the Mexican governors of California extended their influence by granting large chunks of land in the interior of California to their supporters. One who benefited from such opportunities was John (or Johann) Sutter, who received 48,400 acres of land from Governor Alvarado in 1844 and built a fort and thriving ranch near the confluence of the America and Sacramento rivers – the site of modern-day Sacramento.

At first, Sutter’s settlement was mainly known as a stopping point for the travelers who traveled out to California from the East. But, after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s sawmill in January 1848, waves of gold seekers invaded the area, creating a tent city along the Sacramento River. In 1849, 2000 people lived in the settlement. That number had swollen to 9,000 at the time of Sacramento’s incorporation a year later. And Sacramento continued to grow quickly, as it evolved into a major transportation railroad.

Its establishment as the State Capitol in 1854 ensured Sacramento’s future as one of the West’s most important cities. Today, Sacramento has grown into the eighth-largest city in California (by population) with over 400,000 residents. Sacramento attracted people from the entire world in the 1800’s and still does today, creating a culturally diverse community. State, local and Federal governments are its biggest employers; trade and industry flourish, as do financial, real estate and other types of services.
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For more information please visit

Sacramento History Online

A digital library of rare and historic items from the collections of Sacramento area museums, libraries, and archives.

Sacramento, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Continuing an educational history that began in the Sacramento region at the time of the Gold Rush