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Midtown Sutter, History and Today

Midtown Sutter might be Sacramento’s best kept secret. The renowned entertainment corridor has a friendly neighborhood atmosphere where you can find theatre, live music and a treasure trove of locally owned restaurants and bars. The area is crowned by the historic Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, an adobo-stucco construction that includes a replica fort that provides exhibits and living history interpretive services. 

When you visit the thriving Midtown Sutter, we invite you to think about the many generations of people who lived on this land before us. Sutter has changed a myriad of times in our history and will continue to change. Read on to learn about the history of Sutter, and places to explore today to fully experience Midtown Sutter. 

History at Sutter

The iconic Sutter’s Fort Park sits in the heart of Midtown, and is an area that has been the homeland of the Nisenan people since time immemorial. If you grew up in Sacramento, chances are you took a school field trip here to learn about what life was like for the pioneers in the mid-1800s, but how much did you learn about the lasting devastating impacts on the area’s original Native residents? 

Recently, California State Parks has recognized the need to reexamine the past at this National Landmark and confront the unbalanced perspective of John Sutter and his legacy, along with other settlers. You can find the plans of California State Parks to change the way history is interpreted at Sutter’s Fort to share a more inclusive and historically accurate history in their Sutter’s Fort Interpretation Master Plan. 

Long before colonizers ever set foot on Californian soil, Native peoples’ had created a mature and highly managed landscape. In the early 1800s, the colonization of California had reached the Native villages of the Sacramento River valley.

From 1839 to 1849, Sutter’s Fort was the economic center of the first permanent European colonial settlement in California’s Central Valley. Its founder was John Sutter who named his vast Mexican land grant “New Helvetia.” 

During that time, the Fort catalyzed patterns of change across California. Native peoples felt these changes most significantly as their lives were transformed by the Fort’s presence. Many different Native people helped build the Fort, and their exploited labor made the Fort’s many industries possible. In 1848, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill started the gold rush that ultimately undermined Sutter’s businesses at the Fort and led to an even greater exploitation of Native people across California.

Sutter Today 

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is often a memory for many schoolchildren who visited the park across generations in Sacramento. If you have never been to Sutter’s Fort or perhaps only went as a kid, we invite you to come back to reminisce about your school day field trips, learn a more inclusive and accurate history, and enjoy all the amenities offered.

Visitors to Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park are welcome to explore the historic structures and living history museum at their own pace with a self guided tour, and can find a map and brochure available at the kiosk. 

When you visit, plan your day to also visit the State Indian Museum (only a three-minute walk away). All the exhibits and photographs on display are presented with respect for those who went before us on this land and continue to live in California communities today.

Although Sutter’s Fort and the State Indian Museum are the best places to learn more about the history of Sutter, we encourage you to also explore the Sutter Midtown area and experience how it has evolved into a thriving district with restaurants, bars, live entertainment shops, and of course some of the best brunch in Sacramento! 

Exploring Sutter Midtown you will find understated elegance and well curated experiences that reflect a variety of the best of what Midtown has to offer. Plus visits are a breeze with easy freeway access and plentiful street parking in the area. 

Here are some of our favorite places to visit inside Midtown Sutter. 

Barwest | @mybarwest

2724 J Street

Visit Barwest to find a modern day neighborhood sports bar and restaurant that serves up delicious burgers, hot wings, beer, cocktails, wine and more. Check out this spot to gather with your friends to watch the next ballgame! 

 

Blue Cue | @therealbluecue

1004 28th Street

Featuring karaoke, darts, multiple pool tables, and a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere, the large, brick-walled space is bolstered by traditional bar cuisine combined with a wide selection of spirits and cocktails.

Café Bernardo | @cafe.bernardo

2730 Capitol Avenue

A casual dining concept based on the European tradition of cafe dining, Cafe Bernado is a longstanding local favorite featuring a farm-to-fork menu with house made bread, pasta and dessert. Come here for an inviting atmosphere for any moment. 

Centro Cocina | @centrococina

2730 J Street

Centro crafts all their dishes from scratch – from salsas, to masa and corn tortillas, slow-cooked meats, and hearty soups. The bright and colorful interior highlights items sourced from Mexico providing a festive and casual atmosphere.

Harlow’s | @harlowsnightclub

2708 J Street

Harlow’s is one of our favorite venues for nationally renowned musicians and acclaimed local acts. For more than 35 years, Harlow’s has featured some of the best live music for every type of fan from blues to soul to rock ‘n’ roll. 

Ink Eats & Drinks | @inkeats

2730 N Street

This tattoo-themed restaurant and bar is known for their Bloody Mary Bar and quality brunch fare! Ink offers an approachable yet inspired menu, great prices and down-to-earth attentive service. 

Paragary’s | @paragarysmidtown

1401 28th Street

Opened in 1983, Paragarys is considered a Sacramento dining staple, serving generations of locals over the years. Known for its delicious seasonal cuisine in a beautiful setting, this restaurant is perfect for your next dinner date.

The Red Rabbit | @sacrabbit

2718 J Street 

The Red Rabbit’s mission: raising the neighborhood bar. They believe in seasonal and local, creating their cocktails from the ground up with housemade syrups, fresh squeezed juices, and fresh herbs. Enjoy their farm-to-table food selections, the artisan cocktails, sourced beer and wine. 

Tea Bar & Fusion Café | @ilovetbar

2700 Capitol Avenue

At Tea Bar you’ll find create-your-own wraps and bowls, snacks like avocado toast and edamame, and frozen, iced, or hot teas all made with the freshest ingredients. Stop by for lunch or a snack before catching a show at B Street Theatre.

B Street Theatre | @bstreettheatre

2700 Capitol Avenue

Over the years the B Street Theatre has introduced more than 100 original plays. Located at The Sofia, this gorgeous theatre keeps audiences laughing and crying, and critics raving. 

From the Historic Sutter’s Fort, to delicious farm-to-fork dining, and even live entertainment, Midtown  Sutter has it all. We would love to hear from you about what you learn and experience while exploring the area. Do you agree with us that it may be Sacramento’s best kept secret? Tag us in all your adventures @exploremidtown on social media.

Gentle Density – The Rise of Alley Infill Development

Midtown has been and continues to be a premier destination to live due to its walkability, wide array of entertainment and arts, and incredible culinary scene. Since 2017, Midtown has experienced an influx of residential developments entitled and under construction, which supports those that want to live in the urban core. While many of the projects are large scale, mixed-use developments there is another development style that has seen a rise in Midtown that embraces a gentler, neighborhood sensitive growth.

Cities across the nation are looking at gentle ways to increase density in their communities. In places like Sacramento that includes making a concerted effort to encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units, rezoning single family zoning to allow up to fourplexes, and something more unique to the Central City – the construction of alley facing developments.

The Central City in Sacramento is commonly known and represents a grid pattern that is essentially 30 blocks by 30 blocks. Between each block moving north to south there are alleys that extend from Old Sacramento through Midtown to the Alhambra corridor. In total, alleys represent approximately 37 miles of roadway in the urban core.

In their original intent, alleys were looked as mostly utilitarian by nature, which typically house some of the most basic services of city life. Buildings were built in a way that almost always faced the street front, and activation of the alleys was nonexistent.

Today, alleys represent a world of possibilities and serve as a crucial part of the housing affordability question our city faces. In recent years, the city has developed design guidelines to help encourage alley activations with businesses. One of Midtown’s first and prime example of alley activation is in Liestal Alley between 17th and 19th streets, which includes Old Soul Coffee, porous concrete pavers for better stormwater management, and better lighting and landscaping.

Now alleys offer a new opportunity with the development of residential housing on what are often time single family lots in less dense parts of the urban core. Many of the lots in Midtown’s neighborhoods of Boulevard Park, Marshall School, New Era Park, Newton Booth, and Richmond Grove offer historic homes that stretch 160 feet from street to alley. Property owners are taking advantage of these deep lots by adding housing facing the alley that not only brings a greater density to the urban core, but also brings more attention and activity to often forgotten spaces in the alley.

Sacramento needs to develop housing product of all types from large scale multi-family apartments, to accessory dwelling units and of course alley infill housing. This gentle way of adding density utilizes small underutilized pieces a land that can feature duplexes, fouplexes and up to eight or ten units without offending the character of Midtown’s historic neighborhoods.

 

The next time you’re walking in Midtown think about cutting through an alley to find one of these hidden housing projects. You might be surprised how many you find. Snap a photo of your favorite alley infill project and tag @exploremidtown with the #alleyinfill for a chance to be featured on our social or in our newsletters.

10 Reasons Why You Should Live in Midtown

 A walk in the neighborhood has a whole new meaning when you live in Midtown. Living in Midtown means being a short walkable distance to restaurants. It means the Farmers Market is often your grocery store. It means brunch on weekends. And that coffee shops are often also your office. The perks of being a Midtown resident are endless.

Here are our top 10 reasons why you should live in Midtown!

1. Foodie haven

         

 There is a reason Sacramento is known for being the farm-to-fork capital! From mouth watering brunch (check out our blog on our Favorite Brunch Places in Midtown), to fresh and locally sourced entrees, to several  amazing dessert shops to satisfy any sweet tooth, Midtown is bursting at the seams with talented restaurants and cooks. Foodies are in absolute heaven when visiting the grid.

2.  Endless coffee chops

When you live in Midtown the neighborhood coffee shops are often an extension of your office. I mean, what is a city without some great coffee shops?! If you’re looking for a coffee place in Midtown, we got you covered, read our blog on Iconic Coffee Shops so you can become a Midtown coffee connoisseur.

3. The Midtown Farmers Market is in your backyard

Not to brag, but Midtown has one of the most impressive Farmers Markets in California, spanning more than five blocks and featuring more than 160 plus vendors. Who needs Walmart or Safeway when you can stroll down to the Farmers Market every Saturday to get fresh vegetables, home-made bread and the most gorgeous flowers to place on your kitchen table.

To make the most of your visit at the Farmers Market, you’ll want to check out our blog that has everything you need to know about the Midtown Farmers Market!

4. Beautiful parks & free workout classes

How great and safe a community is, can often be measured by their public parks. Midtown Parks features six beautiful parks (Fremont Park, Winn Park, Sutter Park, Truitt Park, Marshall Park and Muir Park) complete with beautiful art and engaging programming.

How many cities can you say offer free park programming almost every day throughout the Summer? Read about our Fresh Air: Fremont Park series to learn more about our everyday exercise programming at Fremont Park. Or plan to visit Winn Park on Wednesday to find great local artisan and food vendors, live music, yoga and yummy food trucks (pssst I heard that sometimes they even have a wine garden!) Learn more about all our parks at MidtownParks.org.

5. Walk & bike everywhere

Sacramento is one of California’s most accessible major cities, and Midtown in particular provides many different options from scootering to biking that make traveling to and around our central city effortless.

Read our transportation blog for more tips and information on how to travel the grid like a pro!

6. Fun nightlife

How many cities can you say have a bar inside a pink Victorian house? Whether you are partying in the Golden Hub or the Lavender Heights District or perhaps catching some live entertainment in the Sutter District we have unique bars and fun nightlife that make Sacramento an exciting place to go out on the town. Time to diall up your besties for a night of dancing!

7. Art around every corner

It is impossible to drive down a street in Midtown and not spot a beautiful mural on the outside of a building or even in unexpected places like an electrical box.

Initiatives like Art in Unexpected Places and Wide Open Walls have made Midtown a destination for art lovers and artists. The art not only beautifies our city, it helps represent our diversity and culture in Sacramento.

8. Dog friendly

How does the saying go? Happy dog, happy life? Living in Midtown is a dog’s dream, complete with dog friendly patios, events like the Pooch Parade that highlight our cute puppies and of course our favorite dog park: The Truitt Bark Park.

9. Midtown Love

     

 In Midtown we like to use the phrase Midtown Love, which means being in action to actively celebrate, include, and proudly protect our fellow community members. In Midtown we have no place for prejudice, sexism, racism or bigotry. We only have space for learning, love and inclusivity. You’ll often see our banners hung up on our light poles in Midtown that showcase our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Learn about other ways we are spreading love in the grid in our DEI blog!

10. A city lifestyle that you can afford

For many living in a city is a pipe dream because of how expensive big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose have become in recent years. Living in Midtown is the perfect balance of city and suburban … and you’re bound to see many Victorian homes living in Midtown too!

Now that you know the perks of living in Midtown are endless; click any of the available properties in Midtown below to find your next home.

Follow us on @exploremidtown to find new happenings, businesses and events happening in Midtown! If you #exploremidtown remember to tag us, we may share your photo on our social media!