Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 150: California Department of Transportation Headquarters on N Street

The California Department of Transportation has two buildings near the Capitol, occupying the blocks along N Street between 11th & 12th Streets (top) and 10th & 11th Streets (bottom):

The building in the lower picture has a long ADA ramp to the right of the entry door, from which Mr. E and I watched some of the time trial around the Capitol during the Tour de California bike race several years ago - a perfect viewing spot!  The building itself, however, isn't terribly attractive in the upper portions, with its stocky and blocky concrete facade.

The building in the upper picture is much more appealing, thanks to the long vertical stripes above the main entry, which to me are reminiscent of Prairie School architecture.  The main entry itself has lovely carvings surrounding the door:

This state department is also known as CalTrans and has a pretty interesting history.  When we first moved to Sacramento, we were surprised that the roadway along Capitol Mall, leading from the Tower Bridge to the State Capitol building and bifurcated by a large grassy median, wasn't used for city festivals or public gatherings of any kind.  We learned that this roadway was owned and operated by CalTrans, which meant that the City didn't have any control over its use or development.

Unfortunately, this sort of tension between the City and State is common in Sacramento, and often what might be best for the overall quality of life for the City and its residents doesn't take priority over the needs of the State, which is a very large landowner in Sacto, especially in the downtown area.

Luckily, within the past few years, the City struck a deal with CalTrans to take over operations of Capitol Mall, so we've seen lots more activation of that space to liven up the downtown, including beer and wine festivals, walk/run events, and other sorts of civic or entertainment offerings.  So great to "reclaim" this space as an amenity for City residents!


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