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.