Preserving the Railyards' Past

Preserving the Railyards' Past

August 16, 2016 | By The Railyards


Sacramento’s Railyards has a storied past that reminds you of its strong connection to technology and innovation. As the team looks to the future, they had to look to the Railyards past. With so much character in the Central Shops, it’s almost like you can hear the walls talking.


The Railyards has a rich history of trains and railroad technology dating back to the late 19th century when Sacramento served as the western terminus for the Transcontinental Railroad. The Central Shops, which remain largely intact today, operated as one of the largest train manufacturing and maintenance facilities through the late part of the 19th century up to the later part of the 20th century. Now, as The Railyards team works to develop one of the largest infill sites in the nation, the team is embracing the Railyards historic significance and are working to preserve its heritage.

The Central Shops District, which hosts a majority of the Railyards’ historic buildings, will serve as a centerpiece of the Railyards project. Its central location offers a crucial connection to the Sacramento Valley Station, future intermodal transportation station and a gathering space for residents and workers living in the Railyards. Beautiful, large brick buildings will be adaptively reused in a way that highlights their strong personalities. As to not dwarf and hide the prominence of the historic buildings, the Railyards team will blend modern architecture throughout the Central Shops development that relates to the history and historic structures. The team has worked diligently with city staff to create building height limitations that respect the height of adjacent historic facades. They’ve also designed a network of pedestrian pathways that will be integrated through the Central Shops and weave the district into Sacramento’s urban fabric.

In addition to protecting the historic Central Shops, The Railyards team is also preserving the historic water tower that sits at the heart of the project. The team is working to nominate the water tower as a landmark structure, and get it placed on the historic preservation list. By nominating the water tower, the Railyards team is committing to preserving its character and making it an iconic structure in the development.

The Sacramento Railyards has a long history serving as a center for railroad technology and innovation. The team has worked hard to propose a project that respects the character of the Railyards’ historic features and rehabilitates the Central Shops to serve as a culturally recognized urban environment. The buildings played an important part in Sacramento history and will remain an important part of The Railyards’ future.

Photo credit: Chris Bogard | chrisbogard.com | Instagram: @chrisbogard

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