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Learn about California and the Capitol
In 1965, an eleven-year-old named Paul Buzzo saw a television commercial that quoted a law that said it was illegal to toss something burning out of a vehicle and onto the road. He realized that it wasn’t the road that needed protection from burning material, because the road doesn’t burn; it was the grass and other flammable material near the road that needed the protection. Paul’s mother recommended that he write to his Assemblyman, who took Paul’s suggestion to the legislature. The law was then changed to include the “adjoining area” of any road or highway, and that section of the Vehicle Code (23111) was renamed the “Paul Buzzo Act.”
Here in the Kids’ Zone, you can learn more about the history of California and our State Capitol, and better prepare yourself to help enhanced California’s quality of life, perhaps through a suggestion of new or improved legislation.
Additional Educational Materials
Glossary of Terms
Understanding the terminology used for architecture, art, history, and legislation can be the fundamental key to understanding their unique relationship and significance to California, the Capitol Building, and citizens today and in the decades to come. So is it the abacus that’s found between the triglyphs in the frieze section of the entablature of classical Greek Doric temples, or is that the metope? Answers to this type of question can be found within this handy glossary of architectural terms associated with the State Capitol. (Answer: It’s the metope. The abacus is found between the architrave and the aechinus in the capital of a column.)
California History & Government Materials
Take a Tour of Capitol Park
Architectural Virtual Tour
The virtual tour also includes exterior architectural features such as statuary and ornately designed pediments and portico. The West entrance portico is surrounded by towering Corinthian columns, a Greek style pediment with a triangular roof, and statuary. The East Annex entrance is adorned with cast aluminum panels that incorporate the Art Deco and Art Moderne movements echoing the ideals of science, industry, natural resources, commerce, and transportation.
Previous exhibit themes include the Dust Bowl’s effect on California and the Legislature’s response to it, and California’s role in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. Special exhibits have displayed contemporary Native American art and the art of retired Capitol employees. Here you can find more information on the Museum’s current exhibit as well as previous ones.
As head of the executive branch of state government, the Governor is vested with the supreme executive power of the State of California and has the duty to ensure that the laws of the state are faithfully executed. Thirty-eight different men have served as governors of California, beginning with Peter Burnett, who was elected in 1849, nearly a year before California was admitted as a state!
While some of our chief executives are well-known, such as Earl Warren, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, other governors led interesting lives, both within and out of the Capitol. Did you know that Milton Latham served only five days as governor in 1860? Until Austrian-born Schwarzenegger was sworn into office in 2003, John Downey was the only governor to have been born outside of the United States, in Ireland in 1827.
Although better known for his role in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, Leland Stanford (pictured above) was also governor. And did you know that Romualdo Pacheco, the twelfth governor, was not only the first governor to have been born in California, but the only governor to have claimed to have lassoed a grizzly bear?
California First Ladies
More than just the governors’ wives, California's first ladies have made important contributions to the state and its people. Maria Downey (John) felt that one of her duties as First Lady was to help the less fortunate. Jane Stanford, pictured at left, with her husband Leland founded Leland Stanford Junior University in memory of their beloved son, and she oversaw the University’s operations until her death in 1905. In 1900, she donated the Stanford Mansion in Sacramento to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for the “nurture, care and maintenance of homeless children.”
Mary Pacheco (Romualdo) was an engaging conversationalist and was known for holding some of the best literary salons in San Francisco and Sacramento. Nina Warren (Earl) made it a point to cook meals for needy families. Gloria Deukmejian (George) organized a statewide awards program to recognize outstanding volunteer achievement for Volunteer Centers of California. Gayle Wilson (Pete) first established an office for the First Lady in the Capitol where she worked on early health and math/science education issues. Sharon Davis (Gray) created the Governor’s Book Fund to provide grants to school libraries. Maria Shriver (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was instrumental in creating the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.