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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Happy Birthday, Davis!


City of Davis reaches milestone marking in centennial celebration

A 32-block area in front of Putah Creek  and some 400 odd residents — this was the entirety of Davisville in 1870. It wasn’t until the University State Farm, an agricultural offshoot of the University of California, was selected to be implemented in Davisville that the tiny town really began to take shape. Davisites celebrated with fireworks and flying flags and immediately the women’s improvement club organized Cleanup Days to make the town presentable for the new university.

Over a hundred years later, on March 28, Davis marked the 100th anniversary of its incorporation by making over G Street, the original two blocks of Davisville by the railroad, and dedicating Davis’ annual celebrations to the centennial.

“The 1917, March 28, date is what we, the city, consider to be the day when it was officially recorded with secretary of state’s office,” said Bob Bowen, the public relations manager for the City of Davis and the president of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. “So, that’s what we consider our birthday.”

The City of Davis has chosen to focus on Davis’ little-known — but extensive — history as a small agricultural town. Pulling from the private collections of Davis’ longest-standing residents and with some help from the UC Davis community, Bowen and others created an hour-long presentation to show residents the historical significance of Davis.

“Here we are 100 years later, and we presented a couple of powerpoint slide shows based on the images that special collections at the UCD library had assembled, in addition to some images from the city and private family archives,” Bowen said.

These presentations will occur at the Varsity Theater on a semi-weekly basis until the summertime, in addition to a special display of Davis’ 100 years of history in Shields Library.

“It’s just our year of […] things that affected how the city came about and why the city came about,” Bowen said.

Several other special events have been coordinated in conjunction with the centennial, including a makeover of G Street, a Fourth of July birthday party, and a “Centennial Plaza.”

According to the City of Davis website, “The walk from the history [sic] Southern Pacific train station to the intersection will be updated with new landscaping, hardscape, art work, interpretive historical signage, a time capsule, and a public plaza.”

The city is also planning on recreating events from 100 years ago. The City Council met to discuss the incorporation of Davis on April 3, 1917, a meeting that Bowen announced will be replicated by the current City Council as an homage to this monumental decision. Original ordinances will be read, such as where to keep livestock and what to do with turkeys that roam the streets. Some of which, Bowen jokingly pointed out, may still be relevant to this day.

The name change from “Davisville” to “Davis” is also another piece of history that the City of Davis is highlighting.  It was actually The Davis Enterprise that had changed the name from Davisville to Davis over 100 years ago, a decision made in part because of the staff of the local newspaper receiving unwanted mail from nearby Dansville. The sudden name change proved to have lasting effects, as “Davis” quickly caught on.

And of course, The Enterprise is joining in on the historical fervour, publishing a three-part series on Davis’ history and a fun weekly column of news which reaches back into the archives of The Enterprise from 100 years ago. While things have changed in the Davis community over the last 100 years, Debbie Davis, editor and assistant publisher of The Davis Enterprise, appreciates the city’s continued encouragement.

“Davis is a wonderful town for a journalist,” Davis said. “There’s a new appetite for sound, well-researched journalism in this country, and Davis is no different. We appreciate the support our community gives this venerable institution, and we look forward to covering Davis for 100 more years!”

Planner’s of The City of Davis’ centennial is encouraging all residents to join in on the festivities, whether that means attending Picnic Day, in which city members will parade with high-wheel bikes as a nod to Davis’ prolific biking past, joining the party on July 4 to officially ring in 100 years or scavenging through old memorabilia to find the dusty past of the City of Davis.

“We’re encouraging people to look into their archives and see if they can find people riding bikes […] and certainly if they have something on Davis film of people riding high wheel bikes,” Bowen said.

To find out more information about the centennial, visit the official centennial page on the City of Davis website.


Written by: Samantha Solomon — city@theaggie.org


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