Saturday, October 24, 2015

AIA Downtown Architectural Bike Tour - 2015

I never thought I would live to hear the words "hip and cool" and Sacramento in the same sentence.  But believe it or not, Portland has come to Sacramento.  In the last maybe five years, and in particular, the last couple, downtown has been evolving into a lively and entertaining venue.

Midtown has been cool for some years but who would have thunk the K Street Mall would ever come alive . . . but it has, and with the new arena opening up in another year, it'll be unbelievable.

Sacramento will actually have traffic jams downtown at night . . . not just during the rush hour.

People are already crying about how difficult it is to find parking.  Uber and Lyft apps are going to be on everyone's smart phones, even for old geezers like me.

The other district that is quickly catching up to Midtown for millennial action is the R Street corridor which has quickly and dramatically changed from its former declining industrial base into hipsterville.

It was only a matter of time and with a new generation of young, hip developers coming of age and putting their money behind some really innovative developments, Sacramento is transforming its image from being a halfway stop between the Bay Area and Tahoe, to a dynamic city with a "there, there."

For it's third year, the local AIA chapter led a bike tour of downtown (and nearby) development projects. Most were in the core area and R Street.  But with the development momentum taking a wider arch in the new economic recovery, the tour took us to the South of Broadway area to see The Mill and to Oak Park to visit the Triangle.

Our tour leaders - Bob Chase and Peter Saucerman - arranged this year to have a few of the developers and/or architects of some of the major projects brief the group on their respective developments.  This was really a nice touch to hear about the background and vision for their projects.

For Bob and Peter, this was the third year of leading the bike tour and I would have to give them high marks for this one.  They are getting better with experience.

And with many of the developments we visited nearing completion and new ones in the pipeline, these tours can go on for many years without repeats.  I just can't wail until next year.

To view the bike tour album, click on "AIA Downtown Bike tour 2015" below photo:

From AIA Downtown Bike Tour 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Empire Mine State Historic Park Hike

Empire Mine State Historic Park near Grass Valley was the destination for the October hike of the Sac County Hikers.  Twelve hikers led by Rich Blackmarr participated in the excursion to the foothills.

The 856-acre park with a maze of 367 miles of deep mine shafts and tunnels, some as deep as 8,000', was once California's richest gold-producing mine.

The impressive and unique feature of this state park is the juxtaposition of the mine's rustic 13 buildings on barren earthen ground in contrast to the lush landscaping of the Bourn Family residence and gardens.

The park has a Jekyll and Hyde personality and the dramatic contrast between these two areas are unlike anything I had ever seen.  It was like visiting two parks for the price of one.

The state park in its entirety is a real gem and well worth a visit.  Within the visitor center is a crude but very interesting 3-D model of the network of tunnels and shafts and a audio narrative of how the labyrinth was created using "hardrock" mining methods.

The docent led tour of the Bourn Cottage and Gardens was very informative and the self-guided tour of the mine structures and operations were excellent.  Most of the buildings at the park have been restored.

Although the hike itself was short (2 1/2 miles), the outing to the Sierra foothills and tour of the state park were outstanding.

To view the album, click on "Empire Mine Historic State Park Hike" below photo:

From Empire Mine State Historic Park Hike