Archive for March 31st, 2009

Alkali Flat Treasure- Bill Burg Alert!

I was driving down E Street yesterday when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks– literally. Cars honked and drove around me as I sat wide-eyed in the middle of the road, staring at the mural that had been exposed when the tar paper siding was pulled off this old market. I pulled over to get a better look and grabbed some quick photos.  
Sacramento used to have quite a few of these old murals Downtown, but they’re getting pretty rare at this point.   The last one I saw unearthed was a much more recent vintage- the ’50s Capitol Speed Shop mural that appeared when the plastic Tower Video sign came down at 16th and Broadway when Records relocated there.  I hurried back with my camera a day later, but was too late- Capitol Speed Shop was buried under a coat of flat paint.
The first time I ever saw one of these murals unearthed was when I lived in Oak Park.  A fire had destroyed a building a block from my house, and when it was torn down, an amazing 3 story tall Wrigleys Spearmint Gum 5 cents mural was exposed.  The building that had been torn down was from the late twenties or thirties, so the mural had been hidden for about 70 years.  It was a thing of beauty and my roommate and I marvelled at the hidden wonders of Oak Park. 
Two weeks later I came home one day to discover that it had been painted over by the building owner in a bid to ‘beautify’ the existing building.  It had never occurred to me to rush to take a photo of the mural because it had never occurred to me that anyone could possibly be ignorant enough to do anything other than preserve and cherish it.
On that note, I urge you to go over to 14th and E to check this out.  It’s pretty well preserved, right down to the pencilled hobo grafitti that you can just make out in some of the white areas.  I hope the building owner will preserve this little bit of history, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.