My neighborhood is Southside Park. In the early years of Sacramento, this neighborhood filled in as industry drove growth along the riverfront and north of the R st railroad. A natural inlet of water followed the lower elevation along 7th St, where Southside Pond exists today. Many immigrants settled in the area as industry flourished in the downtown area (and because minorities could buy land in Southside). In the 60s and 70s, prostitution was prevalent until neighbors cooperated to drive it away. Today, Southside Park is a diverse and historic neighborhood with a beautiful park, nestled along a 5-block strip between the freeways and State Government concrete jungle.
I've lived in this neighborhood a few years now. Living in downtown is a must for anyone with the means who is active, single, and craving culture. I used to live in 'the burbs' when single... and what a plague on my social life that was. However, for the 'married with children' crowd... I can see how life downtown is too seedy and unsafe. Homeless people and hooligans just come with the territory on any street. Tighter living quarters and parking difficulties are also drawbacks.
Unique, it is. Perfect, it is not. A handful of low-rent apartments bring undesireable elements to any neighborhood, as they do here (vandalism, loitering, crime). I have consistently been amazed at how suburban sprawl continues unabatedly, while downtown residents/developers seem to have so much trouble getting any construction approved. There are empty lots & condemned homes that sit waiting for city appointed committees to review, nit-pick, and approve any attempt at redevelopment. Also, I wish there were more dining options than Vallejo's, Waffle Square, and Fox & Goose (albeit the best breakfast in Sac). You can thank the State Goverment's eminent domain on downtown for that, as they have made downtown a bustling city mon-fri 8-5... yet left few residences to keep the town alive outside of the work week.
Still, the future is bright for Southside Park. Not just because it is bleak for the overgrown suburbs strained by gas prices, crowded freeways, and adjustable mortgages. Redevelopment and revitalization of the urban centers is inevitable. I'm very excited about the projects being planned, such as: the Riverfront Master Plan, the R Street Corridor redevelopment, and revitalizing Broadway with a bridge to West Sac. Unfortunately, NIMBYs are always slowing progress in one way or another (link & link). If you're interested in more about development downtown, check out http://livinginurbansac.blogspot.com/
If you're one of my neighbors here in Southside Park, think about joining the Southside Park Neighborhood Association & get involved with the issues... or check out the SPNA calendar to see what they are involved with.