The Railyards: A spark for Sacramento, past and present
For recent generations, The Railyards have been the dormant district that separates Downtown from the city’s northern neighborhoods. But over 150 years ago, The Railyards breathed life into a young city, provided opportunity for the region’s workforce, and embodied the spirit of the city – Indomitable.
Eureka may have brought California its first dreamers, but The Railyards made it possible to unite a country – and build an Indomitable City.
As California and the city of Sacramento continued to develop in their early years, sending and receiving supplies or mail to and from the mining communities was pivotal for positive growth in the region. Charles Lincoln Wilson saw this as a golden opportunity to form the Sacramento Valley Railroad in 1852 and tirelessly pushed local legislation to have the railroad constructed. In 1855, building began, and it was that same year that the first-ever passenger train west of the Mississippi River completed a successful voyage from Sacramento to Folsom. Innovation’s spark created a springboard for Sacramento.
Less than a decade later, the region was ravaged by the Great Flood of 1862 and it would take years for a resilient Sacramento to recover from the devastation. But a resilient city of Sacramento rose from the murky waters and still stands strong to this day – showcasing the city’s indomitable spirit more than ever before.
While the city was still recovering from the floods, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act which brought the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad companies together to build the transcontinental railroad – connecting the eastern side of the United States to the west. Sacramento – and The Railyards – became the gateway to rail travel to the East. It would become the first innovation district, powered by cutting edge technology – the steam locomotive. One-third of the city worked in The Railyards, building and servicing the iron horse that would accelerate the economy of the region, the state, and the nation.
A Home for the Next
Over decades of the city’s growth and as the technology of the times changed, The Railyards fell dormant – only to wait for the next chance to define Sacramento. The largest infill project in the US – 244 acres – will once again transform Sacramento as a world-class city.
12,000 housing units. ~3 million sq. ft. of office. ~2 million sq. ft. of retail, hotel, and other commercial uses, 41 acres of parks and open space. A state-of-the-art hospital and new courthouse bringing nearly 20,000 jobs to the new downtown.
The anchor: a 25,000-seat soccer specific stadium for Sacramento Republic FC and the region.
The Railyards will come full circle – once the district that solidified Sacramento’s place on the map, to now, the district that will invite the world to discover what makes the region truly great.
Mixed-use Urban Village
Denton Kelly of Sacramento’s Downtown Railyard Ventures mapped out the vision for what the vibrant new Railyards will offer and look like, well over a century after the confluence at the river was also a confluence of growth, innovation and ideas.
The area itself was originally just a 20-acre site, but the growth of the Railyards expanded to 40 acres by 1878 and by 1922 it was a sprawling 145 acres in size.
But the Railyards were more than just an inbound and outbound location for goods and services as it was also the epicenter of the Central Shops where the primary function of the shops was repair, design, construction and maintenance of the locomotives.
Now, the same site as those historical shops will be the home of an entertainment, retail and social hub that will also offer collaborative work environments to harbor hundreds of jobs – as it did for the blue-collar workers who helped to build and work long hours at the Railyard itself over one hundred years ago. Modern architecture will surround and highlight the historic foundations still proudly standing today as the downtown urban experience will feature art, cultural experiences including craft breweries, urban wineries and local, artisanal restaurants on top of being a central gathering point on the very same site that united the entire country and showcased to the nation Sacramento’s vital role in the growth of the United States.
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