Sacramento in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
William McKinley Park
146 Years of History (1871-2017)
McKinley Park has a rich and fascinating history. It began as a natural low swampy area with a flowing stream called Burns Slough. In 1868, levee construction to prevent flooding of Sacramento cut the slough off from the American River. The slough became an agricultural canal for irrigation purposes, and later became the park lake. August 3, 1872, the Sacramento Union newspaper, wrote, "this historic stream, so lively and full of danger in the time of high water, and so demure and harmless during the summer season.”
In July 1871, the City Street Railway Company opened East Park (McKinley Park) as a 30-acre “suburban place of resort.” Located outside the city limits, and at the end of the streetcar line, the park was created to increase ridership on the horse-drawn streetcars. East Park had a two story structure, "Summer House," with balconies and a cupola with a fine view of the surrounding agricultural country, and the Sierra Nevada and Coastal Ranges. The building included a refreshment saloon, bowling alley, and music stand as well as an outside dance platform which also
The new park gained a reputation as an entertainment destination. Community events included festivals with food booths, musical performances, dances and free concerts. East Park became a popular weekend destination for picnics and sporting events. Popular sporting attractions included rifle shooting, sprinting races, baseball, and bicycle races.
In 1896, hot air balloon ascensions and parachute jumps by significant aeronauts of the Time drew large crowds. The park became home to permanent attractions such as a bowling alley and a toboggan ride. The September 9, 1895 edition of the Record-Union describes the ride: “The toboggan or aerial railway affords a most exhilarating amusement to hundreds of persons daily. It is the longest of the kind in the country, and the cars carry their passengers around among the treetops, affording a novel experience."
By 1901, East Park had gone into
In 1902, the “Tuesday Club,” a woman's organization, convinced the city of Sacramento to purchase East Park for $12,500. Mrs. Carrie Miller was the driving force for the City to purchase McKinley Park. She negotiated the price, raised funds and solicited volunteer labor for park improvement. She oversaw the development of a children's playground, athletic grounds, including a baseball and football field, and a running track where the rose garden is now located. The park was renamed to honor assassinated President William McKinley.
A 1913 park plan, showed the park divided into areas for lawn tennis, zoological garden, picnic grounds, floral garden, deer park and running track. The Zoological Garden included deer, rabbits, exotic birds, monkeys, raccoons, and alligators in the park lake. Development of homes and businesses at the time, began to form the East Sacramento neighborhood. In June 1927, the animals from the city park exhibits in McKinley, McClatchy, Southside and Del Paso Parks were transferred to the new Sacramento Zoo located in William Land Park.
The running track in McKinley Park along H Street was eliminated.
McKinley Park has a colorful and varied history, from its original state as a swampy rural area with an ancient creek to an entertainment destination. The park has evolved into an urban multi-purpose park, surrounded by homes and businesses. The park's current amenities were built over the years through the efforts of both the City and many private groups and individuals, and included such projects as the community-built playgrounds built in 1976 and rebuilt in 2013.
The McKinley Park lake was named Lake Kiesel, after Frederick Kiesel, the infant son of one of the trolley company owners. In the 1910s, a rustic bridge crossed the picturesque lake, where evening strolls were popular. In the 1920s, the lake held a successful alligator exhibit, which was a main attraction in the park.
In 1988, the lake was renovated and the island was added by volunteers and city staff to provide a nesting location for ducks and geese. Additional renovations in 2017 provided extensive improvements including a deeper lake, lake liner, perimeter and island shoreline,
Sacramento History Journal of the Sacramento County Historical Society, (2003). McKinley Park The Origins of East Sacramento, (Vol. III No. 1).
East Park, Burns Slough and clubhouse, c. 1894
Photo of horse drawn streetcar, c. 1980
East Park Clubhouse in 1918, with basketball court/dance floor
McKinley Park Lake Kiesel, 1912
1913 McKinley Park plan, Lawn Tennis, Zoo, Gardens, Deer Park, and Running Track
Postcard of McKinley Park Lake Kiesel, 1912
Postcard of McKinley Park Lake Kiesel, 1916
Alligator Exhibit, McKinley Park Lake Kiesel, c. 1922
McKinley Village Playground, 1996
Erected 2017 by City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Parks & Recreational Areas. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #25 William McKinley series list. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1927.
Location. 38° 34.565′ N, 121° 27.8′ W. Marker is in Sacramento, California, in Sacramento County . Marker is at the intersection of G Street and Alhambra Boulevard, on the right when traveling west on G Street. The marker is just west of Lake Keisel and its island along a sidewalk. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sacramento CA 95816, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Solander's (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); McKinley Rose Garden (about 800 feet away); New Helvetia Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); Captain John A. Sutter's Landing (approx. 0.4 miles away); Sutter's Fort (approx. half a mile away); The Coloma Road (approx. half a mile away); California State Indian Museum (approx. half a mile away); General Albert M. Winn (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sacramento.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 618 times since then and 115 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 5, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.