Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Sacramento River: Downtown Photographs

Since extremely few people who read my journal have ever actually been to Sacramento, I think my photographs have probably been giving you all an extremely false idea of what the city of Sacramento - the actual city - looks like. Out of the over 200 photos I've posted of scenes around the Sacramento area, I don't think even 20 of them have been taken within the formal city limits of Sacramento. The rest have been of Sacramento's suburbs - mostly the southeastern suburbs, because that's where I now live; occasionally the northeastern suburbs, because that's where I grew up; and once even the southwestern suburbs, when I went there to photograph the Gold Rush-era Chinese immigrant town of Locke. Yet I typically refer to all these as "Sacramento." It's just much easier that way than giving the names of the actual suburbs and having everyone stare blankly at me and ask, "Huh? Where?"

But I think it's time to show you what the real Sacramento looks like. In fact, I think it's long past time. I should have done it months ago. The trouble is that I actually hardly ever go to the real Sacramento. That is, I drive through it on the freeway fairly regularly, but I hardly ever leave the freeway and drive on its streets. This is mostly because I have a typical lifelong suburbanite's complete horror of urban parking. They charge money just to park your car there! I cannot begin to explain to you how alien this concept is to me. It causes me to very nearly boycott the city entirely. When I do go there, I tend to take my car if I only plan to stay an hour or two, but the train if I plan to stay longer than that, because parking spaces have such a tendency to expire quickly.

There was one period of my life when I did visit it regularly, and that was the four years I spent in college. My college was inside the Sacramento city limits, and close enough that I could conveniently take the bus downtown on days when a class was canceled. There were two queer bookstores in midtown back then (technically, one queer bookstore and one feminist bookstore, but the owner of the feminist bookstore was a lesbian - she was also my Women's Studies professor - so the feminist bookstore was pretty much also queer) that created most of the appeal; there was also (and still is, last time I checked) a little store called, of all things, Choices, that sold queer pride jewelry and such. Unfortunately, first the feminist bookstore and then last summer the more officially queer bookstore went out of business, and I have no particular need for new queer pride jewelry, so there's very little left now to motivate me to visit regularly.

There is, however, plenty of stuff worth photographing. And I began photographing it last summer. For some reason, though, I convinced myself that I did not have enough photographs yet to comprise a full LiveJournal entry yet, so I saved them until I could take more. Then this weekend I took more, and promptly realized that I'd had more than enough in the first place - what made my previous photographs feel inadequate was not insufficient number, but rather the sheer abundance of other stuff in Sacramento that I hadn't gotten around to photographing yet. In short, Sacramento cannot possibly all fit into one LiveJournal entry.

So now I'm dividing up my photographs into two entries. The first, this one, will exclusively contain photographs of the Sacramento River near Tower Bridge, which is sort of "the" iconic image of what Sacramento looks like. Usually when Sacramento is photographed, it is photographed in the area I'm going to show you in this entry. Tomorrow I will show you photographs of the rest of Sacramento.

Most of the photographs in this entry are ones I took last night, after the sun had gone down. The ones I took last summer I took during the daytime, and I'll include a few of those at the end of this entry, but most of them will come tomorrow.

So with that, let's begin! Here is Tower Bridge. Many things in Sacramento have names beginning with "Tower." Are you familiar with the bookstore and music store chain known as Tower Books and Tower Records? It's now spread halfway across the planet, but it originally began with a little store in Sacramento next to Tower Theater, and was named "Tower" after Tower Theater. The bridge has no connection to the store chain, though. The bridge is actually solid yellow-gold (painted that color only a few years ago), but at night it looks reddish from some angles because it has red lights shining on it.

A large portion of Sacramento's skyline is clustered at the end of Tower Bridge.

Here's Tower Bridge from the other side (in every sense of the word: both downstream and from the opposite bank).  From this angle you can see that the lights on top of the bridge are what is red, not the bridge itself. And that building behind the bridge? You can't see its shape very well at all in this picture, but it's a ziggurat. I'll show you better pictures of it in a moment.

Here is the ziggurat! It is a good ziggurat. It is not actually in Sacramento, because it's on the west bank of the Sacramento River, and the west bank is the city of West Sacramento, whereas the east bank is the city of Sacramento. Oh, and you can see in this picture one of the reasons I do not like the Sacramento River anywhere near as much as I like the American River: The American River is blue, whereas the Sacramento River is quite decidedly brown. But hey, at least it has a ziggurat!

Here is Tower Bridge as seen from the steps leading up the ziggurat.

And here is Tower Bridge with the Sacramento riverfront, as seen from across the river on the lawn of the ziggurat. See the large ship at the left? That's the Delta King, which spent 18 months sitting on the bottom of the San Francisco Bay after it sank. Eventually somebody pulled it out and refurbished it and turned it into a hotel and restaurant. It's now permanently docked there, immobile, and it charges ridiculously high prices for its food. further to the right in the picture is a much, much smaller ship called the Spirit of Sacramento, which actually moves, and takes tourists for short trips up and down the river.

Here is a slightly closer view of the Delta King, with the tiny little Spirit of Sacramento behind it.

And a much closer view of the Spirit of Sacramento, with a slightly tinier ship behind it. The back end of the Delta King is on the far left, but you can't see much of it. In the background, the tall skyscraper in the middle that looks navy blue in this picture is what is known as the Emerald Tower. It does not look not navy blue in the daytime, but it doesn't really look emerald, either. Its surface is made of an aqua-colored, greenish-blue reflective glass.

Here's the Sacramento skyline from a little further upstream. (I think Sacramento would look prettier if the government of West Sacramento would trim the mistletoe off the trees on the west bank of the river!)

Let's go back to Tower Bridge, shall we? Tower Bridge makes prettier pictures than these ones with mistletoe-infested trees. Here is Tower Bridge, looking just as beautiful as ever.

And a closer view of Tower Bridge.

Here is the entrance to Tower Bridge from West Sacramento. Let's cross the bridge.

Actually, let's stop halfway across the bridge and take pictures of the ships from here!

Upstream, at the far left of this picture, you can see the I Street Bridge. It's not as pretty as Tower Bridge.

Here is the ziggurat as seen from the Sacramento end of Tower Bridge. This is the last of the pictures I took last night.

But I'll also show you a few that I took last summer, so you can see what the place looks like in the daytime, and when all the trees have leaves on them. Here is the Spirit of Sacramento, docked, with the ziggurat visible behind it. Under the name "Spirit of Sacramento" it says "Old Sacramento," which is the name of the historic tourist area (just a few square blocks around) on the bank of the river here. There are horse-drawn carriages all over Old Sacramento every day of the year. You'll get to see a few pictures of that tomorrow.

Here's the ziggurat again, with the front end of the Spirit of Sacramento and the back end of the Delta King. Oh, and now that it's daytime, you can see even better how very not blue at all the Sacramento River is.

Here is the ridiculously overpriced Delta King itself.

Looking back downstream, you can see what the Tower Bridge looks like in the daytime.

This is what the I Street Bridge looks like in the daytime.

Now we're back in West Sacramento, looking across the river at Sacramento. This is between Tower Bridge and the I Street Bridge, but the skyscrapers are slightly out of sight off to the right of here, so it actually doesn't look very urban at all when you're facing this direction.

And this is my very last picture for today: the Sacramento skyline again, and the Delta King, as seen from the lawn below the ziggurat.

Tags: photographs
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