What Sacramento, CA, looked like in the 1890s

In the 1890s, Sacramento, California, was a bustling and rapidly growing city. It had survived the challenges of the Gold Rush era and was now establishing itself as a significant hub of commerce and culture in the region. During this time, the city experienced significant industry, transportation, and social development that would shape its future.


Sacramento’s economy in the 1890s was primarily based on agriculture and manufacturing. The city was known for its food processing industry, with factories producing canned fruits, vegetables, and meats. The most prominent of these was the California Fruit Canners Association, established in Sacramento in 1899 and became the largest fruit canning company in the world. Sacramento also had a thriving manufacturing industry. Factories produced various goods, including textiles, shoes, and furniture. The city was also home to the Southern Pacific Railroad’s major repair facility, which employed thousands of workers and played a significant role in the city’s economy.


Transportation was critical to Sacramento’s growth in the 1890s. The city was located at the confluence of two major rivers, the Sacramento and the American, which made it a natural center for trade and commerce. The Sacramento River was also a major transportation route for goods, and steamboats were crucial in bringing supplies and people to the city.

In addition to river transport, the Southern Pacific Railroad had a significant presence in Sacramento. The railroad had a major repair facility in the city, and the station was a hub for passenger and freight traffic. The railroad also brought people from all over the country to Sacramento, which helped to fuel the city’s growth.

Social Life

Sacramento in the 1890s was a diverse and vibrant city with a rich social life. The city had a thriving arts scene, with theaters and opera houses bringing in performers from all over the world. The Sacramento Opera House opened in 1890 and was one of the most prominent venues for live entertainment, hosting performances by famous actors and singers.

Sacramento was also a center for politics and activism. The city was the capital of California, and the state government played a significant role in shaping the city’s social and economic landscape. Women’s suffrage was an important issue during this time, and Sacramento was home to many suffragettes who worked tirelessly to secure the right to vote for women. Sacramento also had a lively nightlife scene. The city had many saloons, dance halls, and gambling establishments, which were popular with both locals and visitors. The most famous was the Elks Club, known for its luxurious furnishings and lively atmosphere.

These fascinating historical photos will take you back to the 1890s in Sacramento.

Also check Sacramento in the 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s.

#1 Electric street car number 103 of the Sacramento Electric Gas & Railway Co., 1895

#3 Sacramento Daily & Weekly Union Newspaper Building.

#7 Sacramento Depot during the Pullman Strike of 1894.

#10 Sacramento Depot during the Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894.

#17 View from Capitol building looking northwest. Old Courthouse visible at 7th and I Sts. in distance, 1890

#18 Captain Frank Ruhstaller’s Residence, Sacramento, 1890-1910

#20 Southern Pacific Depot during the Pullman Strike, 1897

#23 Howe’s Academy, N. W. Cor. Ninth and I Sts., Sacramento, 1890

#31 A large brick building at the Stanford Mansion at 8th and N streets, 1890

#32 The First Baptist Church on 9th Street between L and M Streets, 1898

#33 Sacramento River looking toward the 4th Street Bridge in 1896.

#35 Southern Pacific Depot at 6th and I St. Sacramento, 1890

#39 Huntington Hopkins & Co. hardware store, 1850-1900

#40 Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894 – National Guard Arrival, Sacramento

#51 Sutter’s Fort shortly after being rebuilt, 1895

#52 Small Victorian-styled house with white picket fence, 1895

#53 Electric street car number 11 the Oak Park via State Capitol line, 1891

#54 Patrol Wagon, 1895. This horse-drawn wagon was the police department’s first vehicle. Dubbed the ‘Black Maria’, it served as prisoner transport and ambulance.

#57 View of plowed ground on side of McFarland house, 1895

#62 Train wreck over a slough in Sacramento. Groups of men standing on the bank of the slough, bridge and on the wrecked cars and locomotive, 1890

#64 Four men stand on a railroad handcar, two school-aged girls sit on front of it, 1895

#67 John Bruener Furniture Ware Rooms at 160 K Street, 1890

#68 View of the Jefferson Free School at 16th and N Streets in 1896

#69 Sutter’s Fort shortly after restoration, interior view of grounds showing central building, 1891

#70 Henderson, Brown & Co. Wholesale Produces, 201 J Street, 1890.

#71 Exterior view of Charles Crocker’s home at 8th and F Streets, 1890

#73 View of the central building at Sutter’s Fort before restoration, 1890

#74 William Brome Grocery Store at the southwest corner of 8th and O Streets, 1899

#76 U. S. Post Office under construction in Sacramento, 1891

#79 Native Sons of the Golden West Parade on J Street, 1895

#81 Exterior view of the Fair Oaks Methodist-Episcopal Church, 1890

#84 Sisters of Mercy Hospital under construction, 1895

#86 View of three people standing in front of a house, 1890

#89 Exterior view of the Western Hotel’s horse-drawn passenger wagon, 1890s.

#96 Sales people wait on customers seated at counter in shirt department, 1890

#98 Exterior view of the Charles Deterding residence.

#100 A parade of elephants on the 300 block of J Street, 1890

#101 A shoreline with several boats, a boat house, and a house on a small hill overlooking the water, 1890

#104 C. H. Krebs & Company at 626 J Street specializing in wall coverings, 1896

#105 City Brewery, maker of Ruhstaller’s “Gilt Edge” steam beer, 1890

#107 Opening day for Weinstock Lubin’s new store, 1895

#108 Ranch workers stack hay in large pile with help of steam-powered machinery, 1895

#109 Two twelve horse hitch freight wagons parked next to a railroad depot, 1890

#110 A memorial service taking place for C.P. Huntington at the Southern Pacific Shops, 1899

#111 The Agricultural Pavilion at 15th & L Streets, 1894

#112 Weinstock Lubin Department Store at 4th and K Streets in 1891.

#118 Circus parade with elephants marching along J Street, 1891.

#119 A front exterior view of the Stanton, Thomson & Co. hardware store at 308-312 J Street, 1890

#123 Two men mounted on horses and two men standing on the porch of a house, 1890

#124 Steamship Red Bluff, bags of grain in foreground, 1890

#126 The Grangers’ Hall at the southeast corner of 10th and K Streets in 1896.

#130 Elevated view looking down K St. from 7th. Golden Eagle Hotel and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church to left. Toll’s Stable and the City Horse Market to right, 1890

#131 Marshall Primary School at 27th and J Streets, 1890

#134 Martin’s, Bryant’s, and Haller’s Houses, 1895

#135 City Police Patrol wagon in front of the City Jail and City Justice Court in the old City Hall at Front and I Streets, 1890

#137 Exterior view of a man standing on the porch of a house, 1890

#139 View of the Leland Stanford home at 8th and N Streets, 1890

#140 Ranch Hands and Horse-drawn Farm Equipment, 1895

#141 Capital Furniture Sales Room at 178 J Street, 1890

#145 The Christian Brothers’ College at 12th and K Streets, 1890

#147 The Agricultural Pavilion of the California State Agricultural Society, 1896

#148 Three views of theThomson-Diggs Co. building at 1806 3rd Street, 1890

#150 A. J. Pommer’s Building, a piano, organ and musical goods business located at 829 and 831 J Street, 1890

#151 Exterior view a two-story Victorian house with fenced yard, 1890

#152 Exterior view of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 1890

#162 Tavenor’s House from West Dixon’s Hills, 1895

#163 View of several people standing on front porch of Trott’s Hotel, 1890

#165 Large family group stands in front of house and fence, 1895

#167 Brick Central Electric Railway Co. barn with two arched entryways and bay window at front,1892

#168 Brick building at 501 I Street, Sacramento, 1890

#172 Beesley & Son (Albert V. and Charles A.) grocery store located at 518 J Steet. Shows bags and boxes stacked in front, 1896

#173 Eagleson & Co.building at 631 J Street, corner of 7th housing, 1896

#175 Highland Park Grove School, 24th & Y Streets, 1896

#179 Hall of Records on the north side of K Street between 6th & 7th Streets, 1895

#180 A. J. Pommer’s building as it stood in 1896. Its 829 J St. location sold musical supplies, while sewing machines were offered at 831 J St. Both stores were at the northwest corner of Ninth and J streets.

#181 Shades of Sacramento – A. J. Pommer’s Building, 1896

#184 Exterior view of three people sitting on the porch of a house in Fair Oaks, 1890

#185 View of the California State Capitol building circa 1890.

#188 Post Office at corner of 7th and K Streets, 1892

#189 John Riley Groceries. Previously known as Wagner’s Grocery, and later as Tru Value Market, 1890

#191 Central Pacific locomotive at Napa Junction, 1890

#192 Man in front of the Cunningham house on Sunset Ave, 1890

#193 View of the Dewey home on Dewey and Winding Way, 1890

#199 Daytime Prelude to Grand Electric Carnival, 1895

#201 The Weinstock, Lubin, and Company department store at 4th and K Street, now part of the site of the Downtown, 1894

#207 River Boat Josie Lane tied up at Red Bluff Dock at Pine Street, 1890

#212 View of the Hayman home on the corner of 5th and Randolph Street, 1895

#219 Students and teachers standing in front of a school building, 1890

#222 T.C. Perkins & Son, groceries, grain flour, 1899

#224 Bridge Tender Jim Lange at the Centennial Bridge, 1890

#226 Chaparral House with 7 people outside of it, 1898

#228 Window display of cameras and photographic equipment, 1890

Window display of cameras and photographic equipment, 1890

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  1. That’s an awesome website, thanks for posting. I’m always fascinated by Sacramento history. I’m kind of confused though how it’s claimed that Sutter’s fort was built in 1850 and then they show pictures of fully built, multi story, brick or cement buildings in downtown stamped 1852. They either built that in less than a year or two or the photos are not dated correctly?

  2. Sutter’s Fort was originally built in 1841, and the only remaining part of the original fort is the central building. The rest of it was reconstructed around 50 years later. Settlement of the waterfront area didn’t begin until the gold rush of 1848. The city plan and charter were established in 1849, and the Lady Adams building, which is the oldest surviving brick building downtown, dates back to 1852. Sacramento developed rapidly during that time period, and by 1850 it was the second largest city in California.

  3. Many of the dates in the article are incorrect, which is common for that website, as they are not particularly diligent about checking dates and locations. For instance, there are two photos labeled as being from the 1894 Pullman Strike and one labeled as the “1897 Pullman Strike” (which didn’t occur). Additionally, there’s a photo of a building in Fresno that they incorrectly identified as being in Sacramento.

  4. Yawn, more pictures of a city that has long since faded into obscurity. I mean, who even remembers what Sacramento looked like in the 1890s? It’s not like it was some sort of cultural mecca or anything. But I suppose if you’re easily entertained by pictures of empty streets and old buildings, then go ahead and waste your time.

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