Old Sacramento Deserves More Than a Notion


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Sacramento’s Premier tourist destination is in need of more than occasional attention from the city.  The number of for rent signs seems to be increasing monthly.   On the weekends the area is bustling with tourist, in horse drawn carriages and filling the restaurants.  During the week there are few tourists and with fewer businesses  available. The biggest crime is there is  no compelling reasons for locals to visit.  Many of the existing businesses seem to be struggling, many have shorten their operating hours.

At one time Old Sacramento was an entertainment destination, with several night spots and restaurants.     When I moved here in the mid nineties one could hear live Jazz, rock and roll and blues as you walked through the alleys.  It was a destination for all ages.

Old Sac ,is the home of the Old Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee now Sacramento Music Festival bringing thousands to the area during the Memorial day weekend.  The event, sponsored by the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society has drawn significantly smaller crowds in recent years and may benefit from hotel tax funds to pay for higher profile acts.

There was a time when there were several evening venues in Old Sac. Today, most of the evening venues are centered in mid-town, leaving a hole these venues attract a young demographic.  In fact, there is an absence of  venues for those older than forty in Sacramento.

Today old Sac is the home of Candy Stores, and Tattoo Parlors.  At night its a haven for teenagers who don’t have the spending capital to keep businesses afloat after dark.  The fast food chain Carl’s Jr closed a few years ago.


If you do not maintain a lawn or a building it will eventually fail

In many ways Sacramento is still a small town.  The city is more than one hundred square miles and it cant seem to focus on more than one area at time.   Old Sacramento has been dying for sometime. Ask any of the long time merchants.  City leaders have explored ideas and moved on to something other than Old Sacramento.

Mayor Steinberg said: “We need to brand this place as a vibrant part of the city experience,”  “I want to explore possibilities.”  

Vague discussions of waterfalls, rebranding and water for adult toes and barge concerts is a clear indication the city doesn’t get it.

Old Sac has many of the pieces in place.   The upper levels of some of the building with balconies could be converted meeting space, where weddings could be held year round. Those meeting/weddings would then support the hotels and restaurants in the area. Similar to Savannah Georgia and New Orleans French Quarter  The areas desperately needs one or two small chain hotels with meeting space.  With architecture that mimics the buildings in the area.   Add more live work lofts in the area and many of the buildings could host small concerts and events.

This historic area deserves more than an occasional idea or consultant.  It is where Sacramento began, where people traded gold on the waterfront.   For many it is the first impression of Sacramento.   As Fisherman’s Wharf is to San Francisco or Times Square is to New York.

For Old Sacramento to be successful. It must have dedicated city department with a consortium of merchants, property owners and qualified city staffers to help develop and maintain the area.

Old Sacramento deserves more than a notion