Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

August 12, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Walter Christensen

Walter Christensen.JPGBorn: June 26, 1901
Died: May 15, 1996

Known for: The former Sacramento mayor's efforts to rejuvenate downtown earned him the nickname "Father of the K Street Mall."

Background: A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Christensen was the son of immigrants from Denmark and the youngest of four children. He was living in San Diego when World War II broke out and was drafted into the Army. After the war, he worked in retail stores in San Diego before moving to Sacramento as general manager and then as owner of The Eastern, a J Street department store. A natty dresser who always wore a bow tie, Christensen was a jovial man who served on dozens of civic boards and committees. He served on the Sacramento City Council from 1962 to 1970, including a stint as mayor in 1966-67. Christensen is remembered as the City Council member who perhaps fought hardest to develop the pedestrian mall. Though the mall, built in 1969, remains controversial, Christensen maintained it was a great idea.

A highlight: When Christensen retired, he would drive downtown from his Land Park residence five mornings a week and stroll along the K Street Mall, greeting passers-by. "Sometimes people come up to me and say, 'Hello, Mr. Mayor.' That makes my day," he said in 1984

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at mdolgushkin@library.ca.gov.

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at agraham@saclibrary.org.

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at pbasofin@sacbee.com.

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