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America's Most Diverse City
Sacramento is the capital of California and the seat of government of Sacramento County. Located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley, the valley was first occupied by Southern Maidu and Plains Miwok Native Americans, who had lived in the area for perhaps thousands of years. In 1808, the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River. In 1839, John Sutter first arrived in the Sacramento Valley with a Mexican land grant of 50,000 acres. The next year, he and his party established Sutter's Fort, a massive adobe structure with walls eighteen feet high and three feet thick. Representing Mexico, Sutter called his colony New Helvetia and was the political authority and dispenser of justice in the new settlement. Soon, the colony began to grow as more and more pioneers headed west. Within just a few short years, John Sutter had become a grand success, owning a ten-acre orchard and a herd of thirteen thousand cattle. Fort Sutter became a regular stop for the increasing number of immigrants coming through the valley. Sutter received 2,000 fruit trees in 1847, which started the agriculture industry in the Sacramento Valley that still thrives today. More importantly, in that same year, Sutter hired James Marshall to build a sawmill so that he could continue to expand his empire. In 1848, gold was discovered by Marshall at Sutter's Mill in nearby Coloma, and a large number of gold-seekers came to the area, increasing the population. John Sutter, Jr. then planned the City of Sacramento 2 miles south of New Helvetia, against the wishes of his father, naming the city after the Sacramento River for commercial reasons. A bitterness grew between the elder Sutter and his son as Sacramento became an overnight commercial success. The citizens of Sacramento adopted a city charter in 1849, which was recognized by the state legislature in 1850. Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California. During the early 1850's the Sacramento valley was devastated by floods, fires and cholera epidemics. Despite this, because of its position just downstream from the Mother Lode in the Sierra Nevada, the new city grew, quickly reaching a population of 10,000. During the California Gold Rush, Sacramento became a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and a terminus for wagons trains, stagecoaches, riverboats, the telegraph, the Pony Express and the First Transcontinental Railroad. The California State Legislature moved to Sacramento in 1854. With its new status and strategic location, Sacramento prospered and in the 1879 Constitutional Convention, Sacramento was named to be the permanent state capital.
Today, Sacramento's estimated 2014 population of 485,199 make it the sixth largest city in California. Sacramento is the cultural and economic core of the Sacramento Metropolitan area, which includes seven counties with a 2010 population of 2,414,783. In 2002, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University conducted for TIME magazine named Sacramento 'America's Most Diverse City'. The business of State Government is the largest economic force in the city, where the historic State Capitol Building is home to the house of the legislature and the office of the governor. A pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic bridge that connects Sacramento and West Sacramento, the Tower Bridge is arguably one of the most iconic features of the city. Twenty-eight acres of Sacramento's waterfront were home to some of the most influential history for the city. Due to past and current efforts by the State of California, private and public museums, individuals, business, the City and County of Sacramento, the Historic Old Sacramento Foundations, scores of volunteers, and many others, Old Sacramento lives on today as a thriving shopping and entertainment district as well as a global tourist destination. A California Historic Park, Sutter's Fort holds public tours and events that harken back to the days of the gold rush era. Sacramento offers citizens and visitors a multitude of options for entertainment and lifestyle, waterfront dining, boating, swimming and relaxation.