The area of Pocket-Greenhaven, often simply called The Pocket, is a neighborhood spanning 7.18 square miles in the Sacramento area. With a current population of 42,821 residents, Greenhaven was first incorporated into the City of Sacramento in 1959 after its annex.
Located only 5 miles south of downtown Sacramento, the Greenhaven-Pocket community is easily connected by Interstate 5 yet geographically protected by the Sacramento River that borders it on almost three sides as the river bends in a “pocket.” The neighborhood is bordered by the Land Park, Meadowview, and Freeport neighborhoods, almost entirely defined by the 95831 zip code.
The area where the Pocket lies today was not always prime real estate. In fact, the land was almost uninhabitable throughout history because it sat lower than sea level, commonly flooding and becoming swampland. But the first settlers to the area were mostly Portuguese immigrants in the 1800s around the Gold Rush, who drained and levied the area enough to allow subsistence agriculture for their survival. As the gold panning and mining industries dried up, they grew crops and raised cattle, hogs, and chicken on the fertile soil, as well as tending to pear, walnut, and orange orchards.
Even as Chinese workers and others came to the Pocket area, it remained a strong Portuguese community, with levees that were continually being strengthened and the Upper and Lower Lisbon Schools founded, encouraging traditional cultural values. By all accounts it was a tight-knit and trusting community, as farmers left their equipment at the edges of their land for their neighbors to use and share.
At that time, ferries brought people and their agricultural and livestock goods to market at the nearest town of Freeport or across the river to West Sacramento. The Sacramento Brickyard, the first in Northern California, was established there in 1854,and a gasoline service station, Grangers Dairy, Da Rosa Grocery,
Pimentel's Ingleside Café, and a slaughterhouse also sprung forth and blossomed. After World War I, a good number of Japanese families took refuge in the area of the Pocket.
Like most of Sacramento, real estate development really started in the 1950s as the nation grew in leaps and bounds to house its returning GIs and growing families. In 1958, the Lincoln and Parker Development Co. purchased 700 aces from the King and Zacharias ranches to establish the first planned community, called "Greenhaven 70." Once completed in 1961, Greenhaven 70 was awarded the "Best Planned Community of the Year" by the National Association of Home Builders. An advertisement to attract homebuyers to the new development called it “the start of tomorrow” that would give “a new and better way of living for the entire family." Due to rising property taxes, many of the farmers and ranchers in the area were forced to sell their plots, which were subdivided and dedicated to new neighborhoods.
Real estate in the Pocket really boomed in the 1980s, when several high-end gated communities, custom homes, and condos and apartments were constructed, along with schools, retail plazas, and a private lake. Interestingly, it was during this time that the name “The Pocket” became synonymous with the Greenhaven community.
Real estate and housing
Due to its unique geographical isolation, the Pocket is still in many ways a small and tight knit community, home to many longtime residents with several generations living there. Today, there are only about 18,576 housing units in the Pocket, which keeps demand hot. 57% of the population are homeowners, with a current median sale price of $353,000. Real estate in the pocket generally sells for $196 per square foot and the average rental price is $1,288. Starting with the first groundbreaking, custom homes in gated neighborhoods like the Riverlake were seen as high end and exclusive. Homes in the Pocket and Greenhaven still attract droves of buyers who want small-town neighborhood feel with access to abundant parks and the river, while only a stone’s throw from downtown Sacramento. A well-balanced real estate market with condos, duplexes, and smaller and larger homes for sale means virtually no family has to consider living in the Pocket out of reach.
These days, the median household income in the Pocket and Greenhaven is a respectable $66,197, maintaining its reputation as a well-established, upper-middle class neighborhood. Unemployment is low and the cost of living only 13% higher than Sacramento, though most people commute to work as there are few large employers still in the Pocket. For a time, Hollywood icon Eddie Murphy lived in the Riverlake community, as did many Sacramento Kings basketball players.
Parks, lakes, and river
For only an area only a shade over 7 square miles, the Pocket and Greenhaven have myriad parks and recreational areas for residents to enjoy, including two private lakes, river access, boating, fishing, and swimming, and bike trails. The list includes Portuguese Community Park, Seymour Park, Parkway Oaks Park, Sojourner Truth Park, Renfree Park, Pocket Canal Parkway, Charter Pointe Park, Garcia Bend Park, Shore Park, Sacramento River Parkway, Pony Express School Park, Marriott Park, Reichmuth Park, Birney School Park, Wenzel School Park, Didion School Park, Lewis Park, Kennedy School Park, Bear Flag School Park, and Dutra Park.
Pocket residents have a markedly high 92% high school graduation rate thanks to their well-rated school system, including John F. Kennedy High School a mainstay since 1967. Elementary and middle schools include the Caroline Wenzel School, Genevieve Didion School, Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 School, Merryhill School, and the Matsuyama Elementary School. In 2010, a vocational secondary school for Engineering and Sciences opened its doors.
Eating and shopping
There are plenty of amenities for shopping and great restaurants for Pocket residents to enjoy, including the Greenhaven Plaza, The Promenade, Riverside Plaza, and plenty of stores in the nearby Florin area. Banzai sushi, Ravenous Café, Pocket Bistro, and Sai Varee are just a few of the favorite local eateries.
The Greenhaven Cabana Club has been a community staple for swimming, diving, or just splashing around on hot days since the 1960s.
Crime rates remain low in most of the Greenhaven-Pocket area, thanks to its strong community and family base.
The Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library has been a treasured community asset for several generations.
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