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Capitol Mall serves as a gateway to the state’s Capitol building and grounds – but the space hasn’t lived up to its potential.

Since Sacramento’s establishment as the capital city in 1854, there has been a desire to create a grand public space leading up to the seat of California’s government. Originally established on the grid as M Street, the stretch between the Sacramento River and the Capitol was referred to as the “West End”. The West End was home to some of the city’s most diverse and vibrant communities, including famous jazz clubs and Japantown – one of the most significant Japanese communities in the United States. In the 1950’s, a spirit of revitalization swept the country, in which historic urban cores were demolished in the name of civic improvements, and the redevelopment of M Street into Capitol Mall resulted in the loss of these significant communities.

Despite the ambitious visions behind the redevelopment of Capitol Mall, it hasn’t lived up to its potential. Currently, four lanes of roadway are allocated to cars on a corridor with low traffic volumes. The underutilized grassy medians and wide roadways create long pedestrian crossings at intersections, and the space is currently used only on occasion for community events and activities. And due to State watering restrictions, the grassy median is golden-brown for much of the year. As the capital city for the fifth largest economy in the world, the current condition of the mall does not reflect the state’s honorable influence on the nation and world.

Recent efforts to revitalize the space began in 2011, with a design competition which invited artists and architects to envision a better Capitol Mall. In 2015, the City partnered with UC Davis to develop an urban design study, which evaluated potential reconfigurations of Capitol Mall to allow for better activation and usage of the public space. The City then continued the work and completed a Feasibility Study and Concept Report in 2019 which evaluated potential alignments and space planning to identify a preferred configuration. Thereafter, a project team was selected to design a space that supports activity beyond day-to-day business activities; one that creates a walkable and bikeable corridor with visual interest while better supporting event uses and public gatherings.


The Capitol Mall Revitalization Project seeks to achieve the following:

  • Improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities
  • Create a vibrant public space
  • Support day-to-day activation, and large and small events
  • Meet the needs of residents, employees, and employers of a growing Central City
  • Develop and implement comprehensive design goals that have broad public support



There will be plenty of opportunities for public input including our first survey that launches September 25th – stay tuned!

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Stay up to date with this project by checking this webpage, or by reaching out to:
Megan Johnson, Senior Engineer
Office: (916) 808-1967