Fair Oaks History and Walking Tour

Printable Walking Tour Map
Printable Guide to Map - page 1
Printable Guide to Map - page 2

Tracing the meanderings of Fair Oaks Boulevard on the map above will make understandable the reaction of a 1902 resident who is quoted as saying, "Our roads are a source of wonder and bewilderment to every stranger who comes into the colony: "

Don't despair! Follow the map and as you move through the maze you may have good reason to agree with the early realtor whose pamphlet stated, "Beautiful Fair Oaks is most appropriately named. It is indeed one of the fairest spots on earth, situated about 15 miles northeast of the City of Sacramento, in a natural park of oak trees amid the first foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on the eastern rim of the great Sacramento Valley, and swept every evening and throughout the Spring and Summer nights by the cool breezes which blow from the Pacific Ocean, up through the Golden Gate a hundred miles away, and at just the right altitude to moderate the extremes of both heat and cold. Its climate is ideal."

~ "(Fair Oaks) has preserved its small-town identity. " ~

Inhabited by the Maidu tribe before the Gold Rush, Fair Oaks was promoted as an agricultural colony (primarily citrus fruit) in 1895 by a midwestern publishing and land colonization company: While that agricultural era has passed, Fair Oaks survives as a town, unique in the Sacramento region. Fair Oaks does not exist as a city but remains an unincorporated part of Sacramento County.

Its legal identities and boundaries have been formed by various fire, park, school, water, and cemetery districts, by U.S. Census designation, and by its postal zip code of 95628. While the various district boards are administered by formally elected officials and paid staff, there is no municipal government as such.

The Mayor occupies an honorary post, and (perhaps not too unlike some higher elected officials) is put into office by bought partisan votes. In this instance the winner is the candidate raising the most dollars for donations to a local worthy community cause.

The appeal of ideal climate touted by the developers in 1895 was particularly pointed toward citrus growing, and by 1900 over 1,000 Fair Oaks acres had been planted in oranges. In its heyday, the area shipped out over 200 railroad carloads of oranges in a year.

On December 10, 1932, what is still remembered as "The Big Freeze" wreaked wide devastation on Fair Oaks' oranges, which never recovered from the blow and were replaced largely by less sensitive crops.

While the outlying areas of Fair Oaks have shown a dramatic increase in home building during the last quarter century, the center of town has preserved its small-town identity.

Changes often have been made in the type of occupancy rather than in building structures: butcher shop to deli; movie theatre to a small business; home to restaurant; pharmacy to fabric shop. With its one- and two-story buildings, the downtown area remains familiar to longtime residents and exiles, despite an increase in the outlying areas which has raised Fair Oaks' population from 34,210 in 1980 to 40,739 in 2000.

With the beauty of the nearby American River, Fair Oaks has kept its original flavor as a traditional small town.