Sunday, December 13, 2015 0 comments

Ole’ Town Underground

December 8th, last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to go on the field trip to the town remained in time, that is Old Town Sacramento of course. The purpose of my short trip to this historical place was for one reason and one reason, go back in time, or take a tour under Old Sacramento learning about its history. I was able to recall familiar events, and learn new things about Sacramento that I never knew. This experience allowed me to step into another era, and still get a feel of what a Context Seminar would be like. Here is what I experienced as I was on this trip.

We arrived to Old Sacramento at 10:00 am walking towards a brick building which was the Sacramento History Museum. We walked onto the porch of the building and waited until the doors will open. As we waited, we found a large bowl figure sitting in front of the museum. Of course some students, including myself, chose to squeeze in and sit in the bowl artifact as if it were a chair. once we rose up from this artifact, we were instantly directed into the museum where we met our tour guide. We were given headsets plugged into a small radio communicating device to hear our guide from a certain radius with our desired volume. First we stopped a viewing deck to take a look at the Sacramento River to learn about “The Devastating Flood of 1861-62” and how the beginnings of Sacramento evolved to the Capital City of California.

As we continue on our tour, we talk about how the flood taught Sacramento how to survive floods, then we find ourselves at an old looking building with iron shutters on its doors and windows. We wait until the lower level shutter is unlocked by the guide, then we end up in an underground site that exposed old brick walls and columns that has been used since the 1800’s to hold up Sacramento. We also saw old tools, crown molds, and excavation sites that lived for decades. The guide took us to a hallway that showed us how the flood wiped out Sacramento's original ground level. Finally, we left this underground site, and left to another site towards the History Museum.
The 2nd site we entered was actually my favorite because it showed how diverse Sacramento was in the 1800’s. When we walked into the site, we saw old furniture, sewing machines, plates, and an excavation site. The purpose of this site was to show the businesses that Sacramento contained. However, what really caught my attention is the way many people went astray from the laws of America racially and gender wise. For instance, there were tailoring services owned by women which was illegal since women were outlawed to own businesses or land. I really like how I was able to see equal rights movements in a blink of an eye in present time.
David Washington


Old Sac Seminar

Well this is the final blog for the Transforming Youth Through Travel Scholarship so before I get to the tour we took I would just like to thank TTYT for this incredible opportunity and say that it really has been an enlightening experience. I have learned so much more about Paris and its culture then I thought I could know and I am truly excited to see where this goes. I know that everything I have learned over the last few months is going to help me outside of this scholarship so I am extremely appreciative.
Now on to the good stuff. We recently took a walking to of underground Old Sacramento to give us a little taste of what these tours will be like in Paris. I found it quite fascinating to learn about. Did you know that Old Sac was not always underground. It was originally normal buildings that, after large amounts flooding a very large portion of the city was underwater. How did the city get lifted? Good question. Based on what I learned from the tour the city was manually lifted. THAT’S RIGHT! Men went underground and lifted an entire city with their own hard work and some very effective jacks that lifted portions of the city slowly and carefully. This was a very effective process however, they did lose some cities and some lives in the process.

This is an image of one of the business from the 1800s that are now underground. Judging by the image you can probably guess that this businessman was a doctor. Our tour guide told us that based on the limited supply and technology back then this form of surgery was not the effective or sanitary. She said she doubted he even washed his hands between each surgery. Can you say ew?!

Now this image is of a shoe shiner’s business, but back in those days they were also known as “boot blacks.” These types of businessmen did not really make much money but I consider it a humble way of living and an honest profession.

I think that’s it for me. BLOG OUT!

Nyeri Mallory


Once upon a Devastating Flood

In the seminar, we explored Old Sacramento and some of it’s original buildings. After a devastating flood occurred in 1861-62, the city of Sacramento needed to resolve its flood issue. The entire San Joaquin valley was flooded for four months, Sacramento took 2 months to finally drain out all the water. The city proposed three solutions, disconnect the American river from the Sacramento River, create a levy, or raise the city. The city tried out all three ideas however the final solution option was the best and most secure. For big businesses like Wells Fargo bank, raising its building was easy because they could afford it, however for other smaller businesses, it was harder. Jacks and cribbing were used to rise buildings. Throughout the entire process of raising the city, it was all chaos, some buildings were fully raised, some half done, and others still in process. The entire city was officially completely risen in 1873. Much of those buildings had to be re-created due to time and lack of care, however now many people can take a walk through history because of role of architecture. Architecture played a large role in rebuilding the city to withstand all the flooding. In the walking seminar Les Grands Projects: A Contemporary Vision of the Parisian Cityscape, one can learn about the significance of modern architecture and how it faces controversy. In this seminar we can learn about the frame to the symbolism of each building. Learning about architecture is extremely important because infrastructure is everywhere and important to a successful society.

One building containing several different businesses.

Another business within the same building.
Ana Martin


Old Sac Seminar

       It surprises me sometimes how oblivious I can be. I become narrow minded and don’t take notice to things that aren’t in my sight. This isn’t anything abnormal since everybody does this from time to time. Going on the underground Sacramento walking seminar gave me a quick reality check though. It made me stop and think about where I am and what it took to get here. It made me notice the huge error I had made of not even taking the time to learn about the history of place I live.  

      I have been to old Sac more times than I can count but I have never taken this tour in particular. We learned of Sacramento’s harsh start and the many catastrophes it went through. The city was founded by a man named John Sutter who had high aspirations for it. The city thrived because it was under the protection of Sutter’s fort. On the other hand it was also hindered due to annual floods caused by the rising of the Sacramento River. This problem began to become increasingly detrimental to the growth of the city each year. So the people came up with several solutions. The first was altering the point where the Sacramento and American River merge to decrease the water level but sadly it wasn’t even effective. The second and third solutions were putting levies on the riverbank to block the flood and raising the entire city above the flood level. The people ended up doing both. This caused several other problems however for Sacramento. The city would pay for raising the public roads and constructions but business owners had to pay to raise their own buildings.

      The result of this was a mismatched city with some buildings below ground level. The people would have to climb down a ladder just to get to certain stores. It was a slow process but eventually city fully fixed the flood issue and the issue of buildings below ground level. Even to this day however there are still buildings being raised in Sacramento and on occasion with the same system. I’m glad I went on this tour because I got so much more out of it than all the past times I have gone to old Sac. It gave me a new gratifying experience that I will never forget.

Kai Jones


          In today’s seminar we learned several remarkable events from the history of Paris.

One event that stuck out to me occurred May 1968, a group of designers distributed posters and flyers to raise awareness .People wanted to release frustration over poverty, unemployment, the conservative government of Charles de Gaulle, and opposition to the Vietnam war. Students and workers held strikes, walkouts, and demonstrations and both parties eventually occupied areas such as factories and universities. Students of Paris' main art school, the Ecole des Beaux Arts, were on strike while others established the Atelier Populaire. The Atelier Populaire was an art workshop for the people to produce posters and flyers as a form of protesting. Atelier Populaire promoted change and analyzed the social, economic, and political conditions of the country. All artists kept their work as anonymous and unfortunately were never recognized for their clearly, brilliant and influential work. I am taking an advanced media class and recently did a project on serigraph design. There was an art movement in the United States that used screen printing, once again proving the power of art. Centre Pompidou and Musée d'Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century are two walking seminars that can help further my knowledge of art and its powerful role in history. The Centre Pompidou contains more of the modern artworks while the Musée d'Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century is artwork from eras such as Romanticism. Seeing the different artworks and the evolution throughout each era would be intriguing however seeing how it relates to telling history is even better. The Musée d'Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century will allow me to better understand the relationship between art and history, history is often told with art.

'Be young and shut up' [by IISG by Flickr]

'Beginning a prolonged struggle' [by IISG via Flickr]
Ana Martin

Thursday, December 10, 2015 0 comments

Le Vieux Monde Inférieurs

The Old World Below
Who know that another world existed deep under the heart of Sacramento.

On December 8, 2015, my fellow Context travel companions and I received the unbelievable experience to tour; or what I like to call, tunnel through, one of our own historical subterranean world beneath Old Sacramento.

On this tour, we saw and learned how Sacramento “jacked” itself up out of the flood waters during the 1860s and 1870s! Our phenomenal tour guide explained how the streets and buildings before use to be about 25 feet below. Now, since most of the buildings were lifted while others were destroyed to make room for much newer buildings. For example, some buildings such as a few hotels, bars and restaurants were moved in spite of the construction. Yet, the ancient underground part of Sacramento's history still remains under pavement and streets and sidewalks of the city.

To Sacramento's knowledge, the early 1850s was an era of contagious fires and raging floods. During this period, Sacramento experienced two months almost of continuous rainfall. Causing the American River to break through the levee around the city. The levee that settlers believed was going to stop the flooding. The next option was to lift the city. So around 1860 or so, the Sacramento residents came together, with shovels, jacks and all, and started to lift the city.

This city has survived all these obstacles but still remains with much passion. Kind of like the Catacombs in Paris (Catacombes de Paris), a journey through time itself. Revealing some of the most turbulent and intense periods in Paris history. Sparking questions everywhere through my mind and imagination. Where do the tunnels lead? How did it use to look? Did anyone every live down in the tunnels? And more importantly - how does it affect the world today? The stories and secrets I would love to discover. To an intriguing world of darkness that rest quietly beneath the city of Lights. For me and others to tell.

I hope, in some lifetime, to see you soon Paris.