Visiting the Garden City

I’ve been browsing online issues of the Pacific Rural Press. Look at their masthead — isn’t that a delight? They don’t make them like that anymore.

pacific rural press-001

Note the locomotive in the loop of the P and the horse’s head in the R, with a beehive below. Is that Yosemite Falls in the center? I like the house (or is it a school?) on the left and the wheat field on the right, not to mention all  the implements (a little tricky to make out) along the bottom.

The Pacific Rural Press was published from 1871 to 1922 by Dewey & Co. of San Francisco. Here is what they had to say about visiting Chico in 1886:

PRP chico1Chico is a flourishing young city of about 6000 inhabitants, situated on the C. & O. R. R., in the northwestern part of the county, close to the foothills, and a few miles east of the Sacramento river. It is about 100 miles north of Sacramento City, and is frequently spoken of by visitors as the garden city of Northern California. The rich, level farming country surrounding the town is dotted with wide-spreading oaks of noble proportions, many of them showing great age. This is one of the best shaded towns in the State. Its streets are wide and regular, and one may stroll for hours along the well-kept avenues lined with beautiful shade trees, without being exposed to the rays of the sun.

Elegant private residences, set in the midst of tastefully-arranged lawns and gardens, and pretty little vine-covered cottages, are to be seen on all sides, while an attractive feature of the place is a handsome little park, occupying a square in the center of the town. Chico creek, a clear, cool stream from which the town takes its name, flows through the place; and Recreation Park, Bidwell’s Park, and other fine groves in the suburbs, contribute to the beauty of the surroundings. The town has well-equipped gas works and water works, and an effort is being made to place electric lights on some of the main streets.

The press is well represented by several live weekly and daily newspapers. Chico is noted for the large number and variety of its well-filled stores and the many different business establishments. The High School building, a fine brick structure, the different private schools, and the several large churches, show that educational and religious matters are not neglected. The new opera house, the commodious public halls, the many hotels and restaurants, and the elegant equipages seen on the streets, give the place quite a metropolitan appearance.

Doesn’t that sound pleasant? The garden city of Northern California! Oh for a time machine so that we could visit Chico as it was!


Chico City Plaza, ca. 1905


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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2 Responses to Visiting the Garden City

  1. suzanne stone says:

    Thank you for sharing all your charming finds. Yes, if only we had a time machine to visit our town back 130 years ago…Your blog is the closest thing we have, and I am enjoying every posting. I plan to visit Chico in May.

  2. nancyleek says:

    I hope I see you then!

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