Folsom Celebrates 70 Years as a City in 2016By Stewart Savage
Visit three exciting places in the city
In 2016 the City of Folsom will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the choice its citizens made in 1946 when they voted to become a city. That was the beginning of the “can-do spirit” that led to the award-winning city Folsom is today.
When you visit Folsom this year, give a salute or a tip of the hat to all the men and women who made it the fascinating and enjoyable city it has become.
Time travel back 70 years. It’s 1946. World War 2 is less than a year over and the country is transitioning to a peacetime economy. Families and businesses can throw away their ration books as consumer goods start appearing in stores and showrooms again.
The people in Folsom had done their part. Farmers and ranchers throughout America were called upon to produce “food for freedom,” for our troops overseas and for the folks back home. Folsom is the commercial center for surrounding farms, orchards, vineyards and ranches, and played a key role in providing services and supplies to the growers and ranchers to keep them in operation.
Even before the war is over, civic leaders are looking to the future. The Folsom Telegraph reports on a meeting planned on May 31, 1944 to re-form the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, saying, “Thousands of people are awaiting an opportunity to move to California. With the building of the Folsom Dam assured, Folsom presents an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.” As they say, the rest is history.
Champions of local control of Folsom’s future, led by the Chamber of Commerce, file a petition with Sacramento County calling for an election. On April 15, 1946, the Board of Supervisors declares Folsom “fully incorporated.” Construction of the Folsom Dam begins in 1946 and in 1956 starts operating to give Sacramento 100-year flood protection and store water for different uses.
The first post-war automobiles roll out in 1946, beginning the Golden Age of American Automobiles that lasts to 1965. Lincoln Highway, routed through Sutter Street in Folsom, brings traffic and business to town.
After 70 years
The City of Folsom has treasured its history of innovation and diversity and kept it alive as it has grown from less than 2,000 residents to around 75,000.
Because of this commitment, there are so many things to discover in Folsom. Here is a sampling of the places you can enjoy when you visit the City of Folsom.
1. The Historic District
The sparkling beautiful Historic District is 161 years old. Now it is easily walkable, with ramps and stairs Pedestrian crossings are designated by small granite blocks from the local quarry. They are miniature versions of the granite blocks enclosing Folsom Prison. Here, the historic buildings are renovated, and the new buildings reflect the heritage of the past.
The Historic District is the beating heart of the city. It is a place that can be enjoyed by all ages. The Visitors Information Center is located in the former railroad depot.
Special events transition through the seasons at a pace of at least one a month, with street fairs in spring, concerts and outdoor events in the amphitheater in summer, Folsom LIVE! music fest, ice skating around the railroad turntable and Christmas Tree lighting in winter, and more. The Farmer’s Market brings fresh produce and crafts throughout the year.
Restaurants with American and ethnic dishes, cafés, pubs, wine bars, candy and ice cream shops will satisfy your every craving. Shops that specialize in Made in Folsom items and shops that bring items from around the world are within steps of one another. Wide sidewalks allow outdoor dining and store displays. Four museums within one block delight and inform visitors of all ages–Folsom History Museum, Pioneer Village, Folsom Railroad Museum and Museum of Wonder and Delight. Sutter Street Theatre offers live entertainment for children and adults.
The Historic District is accessible by light rail, automobile, bicycle or walking. A trail is adjacent to the Historic District. A three-story parking structure accommodates vehicles and bicycles.
2. Folsom Civic Center
Folsom City Hall, at 50 Natoma Street, is the place to go for information about Folsom’s parks and recreation. The civic center is located on land purchased from the nearby Folsom Prison. It was dedicated to former Mayor Jack Kipp in 1991.
The complex includes the Police Department, home to the mounted patrol horses used in and the K-9 officer dogs. The highly recognized city-owned art gallery, 48 Natoma, and a senior center share the former Folsom Fire Department Main Station. The Folsom Public Library, with a coffee and ice cream shop, is a social as well as information and literary center. A Veterans’ Memorial recognizes the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in our country’s wars and their families. The Folsom Zoo Sanctuary is a six-acre nature education facility designed to allow visitors to observe natural animal behavior up close. Lions City Park has two baseball diamonds, 38 picnic tables, and other recreational features. The Folsom Valley Railway, a small 12-gauge train, travels around the park on weekends and holidays. The Dan Russell Rodeo Arena is home to the Folsom Pro Rodeo every July.
3. Harris Center
Harris Center, the $50 million regional arts center, is located on the campus of Folsom Lake College, conveniently near to hotels and restaurants. The three stages in the theater complex were designed to maximize performer and audience experience. Every seat has an excellent view to the stage. All details were addressed, from lighting to set changes, flooring that enhances dance, and marvelous sound.
- Stage 1 is an 850-seat theater that showcases productions from Broadway shows to symphonies, from contemporary dance to World music. It is an intimate venue, reminiscent of the Globe Theatre in England.
- Stage 2 is a 200-seat City Studio Theater, ideal for presentations by community partners and small theater productions.
- Stage 3 is the 100-seat Scott-Skillman Recital Hall. It is an exceptional setting for acoustic music and vocals, and a phenomenal space for classical music.
- The Harris Center is in year-round use. At times, all three stages are presenting at the same time. Parking next to the Harris Center is free.
- From the time the Harris Center opened in 2011, it has become a favorite place for performers and audiences alike.