Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Sacramento Photographs, Part II

Yesterday I showed you the photographs in which the Sacramento River was visible. Today I'll show you the others. Almost all of these photographs are ones I took last summer.

Where to begin? I guess the most logical place to begin is right where we left off - with the places you're already familiar with. So let's begin at the ziggurat.

Behind the ziggurat there are some very dead-looking trees that caught my eye for some reason. It was summer when I took these pictures, so those trees aren't just leafless for winter.

Here's the Port of Sacramento. Yes, that's right: Sacramento, which is located fully 90 miles from the Pacific Ocean, has a deep-water, oceangoing seaport. Well, actually the Port of Sacramento is located in the city of West Sacramento - but you get the idea. People actually dug a huge trench all the way from the San Francisco Bay to Sacramento, just to let oceangoing ships sail to Sacramento!

The words under "Port of Sacramento" in big red letters say "Serving the Rice Industry." I guess it isn't serving the rice industry well enough, though, because the Port of Sacramento is having financial difficulties lately, and being financially taken over by the Port of Oakland as a result.

Here's the entrance to Tower Bridge from West Sacramento. This is the last picture I'm going to show you that repeats what you already saw yesterday.

Now we've just finished crossing Tower Bridge. This is the first thing you see as you emerge from Tower Bridge into Sacramento. It's a view of Capitol Mall (not the shopping mall kind of mall, but a mall as in the strip of trees down the middle of the road there). Down at the end of it, you can see the state capitol building, looking oddly tiny next to the skyscrapers. It's actually very impressive though, to cross the bridge into Sacramento and immediately see the state capitol dome directly in front of you the moment you enter the city.

By the way, this is also a very good view of what the so-called Emerald Tower looks like in the daytime - the bright aqua-blue building in the middle of the group of three there. I showed you yesterday how it looked navy blue at night. In the daytime it looks much different, but I really wouldn't call it emerald-colored.

If you turn to your left while standing on the streetcorner shown above, you'll immediately be in the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. It has dozens of horse-drawn carriages plodding down the street every day of the year, which is why you can see three of them in a row right in this one little picture. It does not have those fanatically patriotic red, white, and blue streamers hanging from the buildings every day of the year, though - I took this picture in mid-July, having assumed that they'd have taken their Fourth of July decorations down by then, but they hadn't yet. No such streamers were there last Sunday night though, so I'm happy to be able to confirm that their Fourth of July decorations are definitely not year-round.

The buildings in Old Sacramento have a very definite "Old West" feel to them, similar to the buildings I photographed before in Locke, but much better preserved. Old Sacramento and Locke are both historic parks, but Old Sacramento receives far more visitors and makes far more money (probably partly due to racism, but even more due to the fact that Old Sacramento is right in the middle of the city and Locke is a half-hour drive into nowhere in particular), so far more money is spent on its upkeep than is spent on Locke's. In this picture that I took just last Sunday night, you can see the Gallery of the American West, along with Hemp in the Heartland and something or other else.

But this is not going to be a thorough tour of Old Sacramento. This is a summary tour of Sacramento as a whole. So let's walk out the north end of Old Sacramento and look down the street . . . let's see, I think this is 3rd Street. To the left is Sacramento's Chinatown, which is very very tiny and pathetic compared to San Francisco's - but hey - at least you can see some buildings with Chinese-looking roofs there. Further down the street are . . . um . . . skyscrapers! And if I were a competent tour guide, I would be able to tell you the names of those skyscrapers, and what's in them, and their histories, and so on. But I'm not a competent tour guide at all, so all I can tell you is that they are skyscrapers and they are located in Sacramento.

Let's go back through Old Sacramento and enter the rest of the city from there. A tunnel leads between Old Sacramento and the Downtown Plaza (the major shopping mall downtown). In the tunnel, there is a large display of the faces of the historical figures deemed most important in Sacramento's history. The first faces in the mural are: Frank Fat (1904-1997), Restaurant Entrepreneur; Eleanor McClatchy (1895-1980), Publisher of The Sacramento Bee; Frank Durkee (1892-1983), Preservation Advocate and Redevelopment Agency Commissioner; V. Aubrey Neasham (1908-1982), Teacher and Historian; Mary Tsukamoto (1915-1998), Civil Rights Activist; and Ernesto Galarza (1905-1984), Author, Activist, and Teacher. I think I should note here that I have never read anything by Ernesto Galarza, who is the only author honored in this mural of Sacramento's history. Perhaps I should. Then again, if he were really that interesting, they probably wouldn't dare publicly honor him, would they?

The middle part of the mural shows: Hiram Johnson (1866-1945), Reformer, Governor, and U.S. Senator; Sarah Jones (1847-1925), Teacher; William Land (1837-1911), Merchant and Hotel Owner; Jane Stanford (1828-1905), Philanthropist; and Margaret Crocker (1822-1901), Philanthropist.

Above the names and birth/death dates and titles of these people, the mural includes a brief additional description of what each category of people (Redevelopment Visionaries, Community Activists, Authors, Reformers, Educators, Capitalists, Philanthropists, City Founders, Pioneers, and First Settlers) typically did, as a whole category of people. Most of these descriptions succeed in making the group of people in question sound important: For example, Community Activists "advocated civil rights and fought unfair labor practices" and Educators "taught the community the value of quality education and worked to better Sacramento's schools." I find it a little amusing, therefore, that the description of Capitalists' supposed contribution to Sacramento says merely that they "accumulated great wealth by establishing successful businesses." I guess there wasn't any way to phrase that in a less selfish-sounding way.

A lot of these people have places in Sacramento named after them or their families: Frank Fat's restaurant, simply called "Frank Fat's" (but subtitled, all over its website, "Sacramento's Oldest Eating Establishment: Unique Asian Dining Concepts"), C. K. McClatchy High School, Hiram Johnson High School, William Land Park, the Crocker Art Museum, and Sutter's Fort.

Here's the last section of the mural: S. Clinton Hastings (1814-1893), First Supreme Court Justice; John Sutter, Jr. (1826-1897), City Founder; James Marshall (1810-1885), Carpenter and Discoverer of Gold; John Sutter (1803-1880), Land Baron; and last of all, a random nameless woman merely labeled with the name of her Native American nation, the Nisenan, and the words "First Settlers: lived and worked in the Sacramento Valley for thousands of years before Europeans arrived." Yes, but what specifically did they do before the Europeans (not really Europeans, but Americans of European descent) arrived? We aren't told, and perhaps can't be, really, because their individual names and a lot of other details about them have been obliterated, because so few of them survived their confrontations with the people of European descent that the Nisenan language is considered entirely extinct already.

So here's the Downtown Plaza. Scary things lurk inside this shopping mall.

Never imagine that you've seen a city until you've seen its cult members. Here we have a scary Scientology booth, set up right in the middle of the Downtown Plaza! With our very own Sacramentan Scientologist manning the booth! At least there are no crowds of people thronging around him asking eagerly to be converted. It could be worse!

Now we have hurried back out of the Downtown Plaza to get away from the scary Scientologist. This is K Street, as seen while standing directly in front of the Downtown Plaza. This is pretty much the same view of Sacramento as was shown on the postcard that fflo sent me in November - just very much more modern.

Here's a picture of the same skyscraper on K Street that you can see in the distance of the picture above. This is the building that is located in the same place where I think the Clunie Hotel used to be.

This is the Ruhstaller Building on the corner of 9th and J Streets. It's helpfully labeled with the words "Ruhstaller Building," which is very convenient, since if it weren't, I would not be able to tell you what it was. A Google search indicates that for a while, the Ruhstaller building housed the Metropolitan Community Church. It doesn't seem to house it anymore, though.

Also, there is a rather endless construction project on this streetcorner, which is the reason that man in the corner of my photograph is wearing construction clothes.

These are some palm trees near Sutter's Fort (named after John Sutter, depicted along with his son in the mural I showed you above). But I'm not going to show you Sutter's Fort itself, because Sutter's Fort is the place that all elementary schools in Sacramento County drag their students to on field trips every single year, and consequently, every single person born and raised in Sacramento is completely sick to death of the place. So I refuse to allow it the privilege of being shown here. (Besides, it's ugly, anyway.) Instead, I will show you its palm trees, and the skyscrapers in the distance.

Now I will show you queer things! Sacramento's queer neighborhood is known as Lavender Heights, and is located in Midtown (i.e., a bit east of Downtown). This is the Lambda Community Center, Sacramento's queer center. It's the Victorian on the left, with the rainbow flag on its balcony, next to a U.S. flag and a California flag. Incidentally, you know for sure that a city is insufficiently queer when its queer community center is located in a Victorian house with patriotic flags displayed in front.

This is a closeup of the disturbingly patriotic Lambda Community Center. They have meetings in there, but they tend to be "support group" type meetings rather than "political activism" type meetings, so I've never had any desire to attend one. I've entered the building often, but all that's inside when there's no meeting in progress is a bulletin board with various flyers arranged on and beneath it. You pretty much go in, pick up flyers, and leave - there's nothing else to do there. Well, they have a little queer library, but I already own every book in it that I have any desire to read. the Lambda Community center is incessantly in danger of disappearing entirely from lack of money.

And our queer bookstore, The Open Book, did disappear entirely from lack of money. I took this picture last spring, just before it closed its doors forever.

This is Faces, Sacramento's gay bar/club, which will never disappear from lack of money. I, however, have never once entered it, and do not expect I ever will enter it, because my aversion to drunk people is much stronger than my fondness for queer people.

One thing that I think is odd and interesting about Sacramento is how very close its downtown area is to some awfully empty, uninhabited spaces. Here is a view of the Sacramento skyline as seen from the middle of nowhere.

And a closeup.

And another closeup.

I think that the middle of nowhere just outside downtown Sacramento must not be a good place to walk down the street, because . . . see that pedestrian way down the street on the opposite side from me? Well, he was walking all the way down the street talking screaming to himself, cursing enragedly at the top of his lungs at no one who was anywhere to be seen, so loudly that I could hear him long before I could see anything of him but the faintest speck in the distance.

So as soon as he got this close, I thought it prudent to get back in my car and drive away, just in case he might identify me with one of the invisible people he was so enraged at. And that was the end of my picture-taking session, and also the end of this LiveJournal picture post.

Tags: photographs
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