In the mid-1860s, after years of devastating floods, the City undertook a project to raise all downtown street levels by about twelve feet. Existing buildings were either raised accordingly, or the first floor doors and windows were closed off becoming basements, as the streets were filled with earth and raised. Sidewalk areas were blocked and capped, reducing the volume of fill dirt and creating hollow caverns throughout the old city directly under the public walks.
In 2009. The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation, in conjunction with the California State Parks Capital District, sought to offer public tours of Old Sacramento’s underground hollow side walks.
We prepared the historic spaces, blockaded for over a century, to allow public visits. Our work included designs for accessible paths of travel and lighting upgrades for safe visitation. This demonstration project is at the historic B.F. Hastings building, the western terminus of the Pony Express and the first home for the California Supreme Court. Tour-goers are now able to get a unique view of our City’s hidden history, the only city in California (and one of a handful in the Nation) to raise its streets for flood protection.
More than 10,000 underground tour tickets were sold in 2010, the tour’s inagural year. Click here for more information on upcoming dates.