Description of a Broadway Jane Jacobs Walk, led by Eric Bradner, a member of the Sacramento Old City Cemetery Committee.
The walk, titled Broadway: From the Boneyard to the Tap House, was part of the Sacramento Jane Jacobs Walk Series.
Who was Jane Jacobs?
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a pioneering work that called for active sidewalks, mixed use, and adaptive reuse of old buildings. In her book, the author and activist was highly critical (to put it mildly) of the urban planning policy of many cities in the 1950s. During this time, and into the 1960s, numerous downtowns were destroyed in the name of urban renewal.
SacramentoRevealed.com – All Things Sacramento (from a personal perspective)
In short, Sacramento was one such city. For example, the diverse ethnic neighborhoods razed to build Capitol Mall, and the building of a highway that cut off the Old Sacramento Waterfront from the rest of the city.
What are Jane Jacobs Walks?
Jane Jacobs Walks are held nationwide during the month of May. The free volunteer-led walks, part urban planning lesson and part local history tour, are organized by interested local individuals and organizations.
Broadway: From the Boneyard to the Tap House Walk
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I met up with a group of approximately 15 for a Jane Jacob Walk on Broadway. The group met at the Old City Cemetery at Broadway and 10th Street.
Before we actually started walking Eric Bradner, the leader of the walk, shared information about the Old City Cemetery and some of its inhabitants. He also explained what the area in the vicinity of the cemetery was like back in the day and before Y Street was renamed Broadway.
We made numerous stops on our way walking towards the New Helvetia Brewing Company, the end of the tour.
Eric had done his homework, and at certain stops he even showed us pictures of the original building that had occupied a specific lot and told us a bit about its owner.
Edmonds Field/Sacramento Solons
At the Target parking lot (Broadway and Riverside Blvd.) we stopped to learn about the Sacramento Solons and Edmonds Field (1910-1960). Something I had not been aware of – there is a plaque in the parking lot at the site of what had been the Edmonds Field home plate!
The plaque reads:
This was the site of home plate at Edmond’s Field, home of the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento Solons baseball team for fifty years. More than 4,200 games were played here over those years and Solons fans set several PCL attendance records. The Solons won the pennant in 1942. Their fans were some of the best in all of baseball.
Dedicated July 26, 1998
Sponsored by Play Ball! Sacramento
See related blog post for additional information on the Sacramento Solons and Edmonds Field: Sampino’s Kitchen @ Joe Marty’s
Broadway That Was
As we slowly walked down Broadway, Eric discussed the previous uses of many of the buildings. As one might expect, many of the buildings had turned over numerous times over the past few decades. Among the businesses now closed with which I was familiar were Melarkey’s Place and Broadway Bait, Rod and Gun, both of which I had patronized.
Broadway – Upcoming Changes
Eric also mentioned upcoming changes planned for the Broadway corridor. The plan includes a reduction in traffic lanes and the addition of bike lanes.
See City of Sacramento webpage: Broadway Complete Streets
We naturally made a stop at the Tower Theatre. The manager had generously agreed to give our group a tour between shows. At least one person in our group had not previously been inside the theater, and another had last been there prior to the renovation of the interior. The manager shared a number of interesting tidbits, including an explanation of how the lightbulbs in the ceiling chandeliers are changed. How you ask? With the use of a crane/from atop the roof.
See related blog post: Tower Theatre – Sacramento Landmarks
Something new (to me) at the Tower Theatre was the addition of an organ in the small theater on the right. The organ was installed last year, and live performances take place on Saturday’s at 6:30 prior to the movie and during certain other times. Examples of “certain other times” given were the French Film Festival and during the showing of silent films.
Tower Records and Books
Across the street from the theater is the empty lot where once the Land Park Tower Books and Tower Records stores had stood. We stopped, of course, to reminisce about both and what Russ Solomon and Tower had meant to Sacramento and us personally. A multi-use building (retail on the bottom and housing on top) is planned for the site.
The new owner of the property had demolished the buildings years ago, catching the preservation community by surprise. As a result, there is still considerable resentment in certain quarters.
See related blog posts: Tower Records – A Sacramento Story and Tower Records Mural Restored and R Street Mural Walk and Russ Solomon Park and Solomon’s Delicatessen and California Hall of Fame Inductees (Part 1 of 2) and 2nd Annual Walk of Stars
New Helvetia Brewing Company
Afterwards, we continued down Broadway and eventually ended up at the New Helvetia Brewery. At that point the walk ended and the group split up. I joined several other of the walkers to enjoy a beer and chat before heading home.
See related blog post: New Helvetia Brewing Company
While there I discovered the New Helvetia Brewing Company had started offering an in-house menu (having previously relied on food trucks). As a result, I updated the New Helvetia Brewing Company blog post I had written just a few weeks prior.
To Sum Up
After enjoying a beer and some interesting conversation, I headed home to a hungry dog who thought he was starving to death (ha!).
To sum up, I plan to keep my eye out each May for future Jane Jacobs Walks. I am always open to learning new things about Sacramento and meeting interesting people.
Comments on Jane Jacob Walks?
Have you participated in a Jane Jacob Walk in Sacramento? Please share your experience.
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