Display 1Before 1848, the Sacramento River waterfront, behind you, was quiet and occupied by few people. New arrivals during the Gold Rush transformed the waterfront rapidly, turning it into a chaotic transportation hub crowded with goods and free-roaming animals. Miners bound for the gold fields stepped right off their boats onto The Embarcadero, as it was called. Today, could you arrive at Sacramento's waterfront by stepping off a boat directly onto land?
Early Sacramentans used the waterfront as a gathering place for making deals and entertainment. Each day hundreds gathered to witness the chaos at the waterfront. Auctioneers like Stephen Massett, a popular performer of the day, staged his auctions at the waterfront. He sold everything from musical instruments to livestock, mesmerizing onlookers and boasting that he could sell a one-dollar mouth harp for a chunk of gold worth eight dollars.
Sacramentans looked forward to holidays, like the Fourth of July, which they celebrated with a 35-gun salute from the waterfront levee. Cannon fire also commemorated President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, an annual event hosted by African-American residents. During the Civil War, Sacramentans gathered at the
waterfront to honor Union victories, including a four-cannon salute on April 9, 1865 - the day Southern troops surrendered to the North, ending the war.