Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 12, 1965):
Situated on the lower Sacramento River, Sacramentos river port emerged in 1849-50 after the discovery of gold at Sutters Mill, in Coloma, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sacramento then became the terminus for the Pony Express, the first transcontinental railroad, and the transcontinental telegraph. A large number of buildings dating from the 1850s to the 1880s remain in the original business district.
The District is suffering from both the deterioration of contributing buildings and the cumulative affect of incompatible treatments, such as signage and the district-wide installation of parking meters. The result is the erosion of the overall integrity.
Regarding deterioration, the District is the second oldest urban renewal historic district in the country and many of the maintenance-related issues are set out in the initial agreements with the various developers of each property. Property owners have recently been notified that an inspection program is beginning to address maintenance issues, many of which involve the condition of balconies and canopies (reconstructed during the development of the urban renewal historic district) over the public rights-of-way. Concerning incompatible treatments, signage, and parking meters, a comprehensive set of sign guidelines has been adopted for the district, however enforcement is an issue. The City of Sacramento continues to discuss and debate other possible solutions than parking meters to address the problem of employees parking within the district, which results in the elimination of parking for visitors and threatens the economic viability of the district. While the Old Sacramento NHL District is not the only commercial historic district in the country with parking meters, the City is hopeful that a better solutions can be found.
Sacramento has recently adopted the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Reconstruction as its treatment for the upcoming reconstruction of the facades of the Ebners Hotel and the adjacent Empire House buildings within the district.