The contrast between the cold, composed air of the North of the USA and the warm, offbeat atmosphere of the South is truly striking, and the closer one gets to the ocean, the more intense the difference becomes. That is why, after getting to the very heart of California, I felt like I was in a completely different world. There is no other place in the entire United States where two cultures mix in such a weird fashion, almost to the point when a completely new culture is being born. Strolling down the streets, however, did not feel like learning about Sacramento more, which was why I picked a specific route, heading straight towards the famous Capitol Park.
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At first glance, the place did not seem to differ much from a ton of other parks – it was filled with flowers, tall trees (though, I have to admit, seeing a palm grow several feet away from an oak is quite impressive) and people enjoying their time. However, when taking a closer look, I actually discovered several peculiarities that set this place apart from parks in other cities. Although the Sacramento Capitol Park was obviously urbanized to the point where it looked almost grotesque, it had a unique combination of the elements of different cultures and both urban and rather rural elements (Brewer 5), which made it a unique isle of harmony in the sea of busy urban life.
Sacramento Capitol Park is definitely the place that embraces the elements of every single culture that the California – or, at least, Sacramento – has ever been a home for. To start with, the place itself can tell a lot to the one who is aware of the basics of ethnography. The very location of the Capitol Park allows plunging into the depth of the social memory, with a number of details that help make the trip to the beginning of the U.S. history much easier.
The setting in which the park is located can also provide a number of interesting facts concerning the ethnography of the place and the history of the people who used to live here, as well as the cultural heritage that they left to the following generations. As a matter of fact, the setting in which the Capitol Park is located embraces the cultures of not only the U.S., but also from all over the world: “There are gardens in the surrounding Capitol Park, including trees from around the world” (California State Capitol Museum para.2). Granted, the aforementioned example concerns only the trees, it is still very impressive that the creators of the Park managed to incorporate the elements of other cultures, therefore, creating a unique place where people from all corners of the world can feel united for a moment.
Finally, a couple of words must be said about the landscape. While the Capitol Park definitely has all the traditional features of any other major park, it still has a few distinctions that set it a few miles apart from any other national park in the United States. At this point, it will be most reasonable to go back to the point in the history of the USA, when California only started to take the shapes that its modern residents are so familiar with now. When considering the landscape of the present-day Capitol Park, one must admit that it is rather urbanized, almost to the point where it becomes an integral part of the informational society.
However, a few details in the background of the landscape still speak of the unique manner in which nature used to keep in touch with civilization in California. One of the minor ditches in the altogether strong canvas of the Capitol Park landscape, however, seems to disrupt the harmony. Being located on the West Coast, California is actually known primarily for its proximity to the sea and having the aesthetics of a coastal state. While the entire park seems to incorporate the elements of the American culture, it, in fact, has little to offer in terms of the unique fusion of the Latin and the American cultures.
It would be wrong to deny that there are no elements of the Latin culture in it; however, the existing ones are scarce and, more to the pint, they hardly remind of the link between the two cultures. Thus, it seems that over the course of its development, Sacramento has lost the touch with the Latin ethnicity due to the growing rates of urbanization. For example, such elements of the landscape as feral flamingos (Brewer 1) allow suggesting that the landscape of the Capitol Park has been crisscrossed with a number of pathways that point directly at the legacy of the European and the Latino culture. However, the elements of the latter seem to have been shifted into the background. Indeed, when considering the Capitol Park and its landscape closer, one will be able to see that the design of the landscape, actually, provides a journey into the ancient times rather than into the conflict between the American and the Latino culture.
As the Cultural Landscape Foundation explains, the initial idea was to represent the timeline of the civilization in general, as well as highlight the contrast between the urban and the natural: “Kiley and Smith designed the community of townhouses and 12-story apartment buildings to emphasize urban living in natural surroundings, utilizing open green space, covered pergolas, a pool, and common pathways to create a park-like setting” (Capitol Park – DC para.2). Therefore, it can be assumed that the lack of the Latino culture representation is an attempt to glance beyond the scope of modern cultural issues and create a link between the beginning of the history of the humankind and the present-day world.
Much to the designers’ credit, the given link has been represented in a very impressive way. In addition, the choice of the landscape design elements creates an impression that the very look of the Capitol Park must represent a cautionary tale about the conflict between civilization and nature, and the drastic results that the given conflict might lead to. Although the Capitol Park is a miraculous island of nature wonders among the concrete jungle of California, such elements as rocks riled as if being a reminder of the previous civilization make one think of the threats of the nature-vs.-humans conflict.
With that being said, one can claim with certainty that Sacramento should, at the very least, be named among the most interesting places in the city landscape out there, with all the imprints of unique culture that it has to offer. Despite the fact that it is no archeological treasure cove, it does offer a number of peculiar concepts to study and makes one stumble upon a bunch of peculiar facts about the ethnographical features of the state. It goes without saying that there are other places where cultures blend to the point when they create an incredible mosaic of traditions and vision of the world; however, there is only one place in the world where these features can be distinguished clearly and where one can see as much diversity as much as one can see culture fusion and unique interactions between the representatives of different cultures. Although Sacramento Capitol Park does not offer much in terms of striking difference to the modern culture – it is, in fact, a place updated in accordance with the latest technological innovations – it still manages to keep a very specific flair, allowing for diving into the quiet realm of California of the XXI century, it unlocks the pat to revealing the cultural and ethnical heritage that has been piling in the city of Sacramento for centuries.
Brewer, Herbert T. The Feral Flamingos of Sacramento’s Capitol Park. 2003. Web.
California State Capitol Museum. n. d. Web.
Capitol Park – DC. 2012. Web.