New in town? This vocab lesson could be just the thing to get you acquainted
As a newcomer to Davis, you might hear people mention “ARC,” “DAC” or “D-QU,” but what are they talking about?
Thanks to our toad tunnel and anti-snoring ordinance, you might only be familiar with the city of “All Things Right and Relevant” via coverage on Comedy Central. We’re here to tell you, there’s so much more to know.
The Enterprise editorial staff has composed a handy Davis dictionary, listing a little of what makes up our city, from A to Z.
Acme Theatre Company: This entirely youth-run, award-winning theater company has been producing high-quality dramatic performances for nearly three decades. This community theater group is for high school-aged performers, but its summer kids’ programs, offered through the city’s Parks and Community Services Department, are designed for students entering kindergarten through eighth grades.
Aggie Village: This land south of First Street once was home to UC Davis dorms, known as Aggie Villa. Then it was an empty lot for many years. Beginning in 1997, a housing development known as Aggie Village, a neo-traditional neighborhood, was built on the west side of the land, with the Davis Commons shopping center on the east side. The retail development was initially highly controversial but now is a popular part of the Davis scene.
Aggies: The athletic teams’ nickname is a reflection of UC Davis’ agricultural history. An Aggie also is anyone who graduates from UCD. In 1987, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association polled 12,250 dues-paying members out of 80,000 UC Davis graduates about possibly dropping the name “Aggie” from the association’s formal name. The vote came back with 62.2 percent urging the association to keep the name.
Arboretum: The UC Davis Arboretum is a 120-acre tree collection and botanical garden along the north fork of Putah Creek on the UC Davis campus. Besides providing a place for teaching and research, it is a popular spot for exercising and picnicking. Aggressive ducks rule the pond, known as Lake Spafford, near Mrak Hall. In recent years, students have created science-based artwork to complement the natural beauty.
ARC: The Activities and Recreation Center opened in April 2004 and was funded with the help of a student referendum. The ARC hosts many recreational activities for UC Davis students, faculty and staff, with four indoor basketball courts (convertible to host volleyball and badminton), eight four-wall courts, a multi-use activity center, indoor running track, large fitness/weight areas, and an indoor climbing wall.
Art: Many formal and informal art gallery spaces decorate Davis and there are lots of examples of art in public places. Work ranges from performance art and installations to watercolors and functional ceramics. UC Davis has provided the world with several well-known artists, including Wayne Thiebaud and the late Robert Arneson.
Bike Forth: A do-it-yourself bicycle repair shop at the corner of Fourth and L streets, Bike Forth is entirely volunteer-run and donation-based. Nothing in the shop has a fixed price; donations are requested to help pay the rent and keep tools in good shape. Alternatively, volunteer time may be donated instead of money.
Bikes: The city of Davis is nationally recognized as a pioneer in developing a citywide bike traffic system. The city has more than 100 miles of bike lanes and bike paths. Its bike system originated in an early ’60s effort to blend the needs of motorists with the needs of cyclists. There are several bike cops at both the university and city police departments. The exact number of bicycles in Davis is unknown, but estimates run at about one bike per capita, or more than 60,000.
Burrowing owls: These cute little critters wreak havoc with developers who want to build houses, apartment buildings, shopping centers, even schools on their former homes.
Causeway: This 3.2-mile-long stretch of bridge runs over the Yolo Bypass and separates us from West Sacramento. Many no-growthers like to envision the bypass as a moat. To prevent flooding during the rainy season, the Yolo Bypass often fills up with runoff from the Sacramento River.
Central Park: This downtown park has several gardens, a local history museum, playground equipment and the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Home of the Davis Farmers Market, the park has become a child’s paradise thanks to the “Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze,” a pedal-powered merry-go-round that benefits the schools.
City Council: Mayor Joe Krovoza presides over Council members Lucas Freirichs, Brett Lee, Rochelle Swanson and Dan Wolk.
College Park: This old tree-lined neighborhood is one of the most beautiful in Davis. Directly north of the campus, the College Park loop features large yards and stately homes with varying architectural styles. The UC Davis chancellor’s residence at 16 College Park was rebuilt in recent years and now serves both as a home and a venue for official entertainment.
Community Park: Built in 1966, this 28-acre park is used by many people, including about 1,800 kids participating in American Youth Soccer Association games on Saturdays in the fall. The town’s Fourth of July celebration also is here. The park also has: picnic areas; Rainbow City, a playground funded and built by community members; a skate park; and a dog park.
Criterium: This daylong series of bicycle races takes place every Fourth of July through the streets of downtown Davis. It draws a big crowd of riders and spectators.
Dark-sky ordinance: Davis became the focus of national attention when the City Council approved this ordinance requiring, for some new light installations, the use of fixtures that point light downward and away from the night sky. The council unanimously approved the ordinance in late 1998 in an effort to create a more pleasant nighttime environment and bring more stars into view. It applies only to new lighting installations on public property, stores, industries and apartment complexes.
Davis Aquatic Masters: This year-round swim club has hundreds of members and offers hourlong workouts throughout the day at the Civic Center Pool. A highlight of the year comes in June, when many members swim Lake Berryessa.
Davis Art Center: The center offers classes for adults and children, monthly gallery shows, musical events and an art sale during the holiday season. Watch for its popular Holiday Sale and Children’s Secret Store in December.
Davis Food Co-op: A Davis institution, the Co-op is more than a health food store, it’s a social event. Offering everything from bulk tofu to pesticide-free veggies, the Co-op is at 620 G St. Co-op members pay a small fee to join, and many contribute a few hours each month to the job for a discount on purchases. Nonmembers are welcome, too, but they pay a slightly higher fee for their purchases in this full-service grocery. The green building with gold letters heralded by a big red tomato sculpture — by local artist Gerald Heffernon — is hard to miss.
Davisville: This was our town’s first name when it was founded by the California Pacific Railroad in 1868. You can read about early days in “Davisville ’68: The History and Heritage of the City of Davis” by Joann Leach Larkey or in The Enterprise’s “Those Who Make Memories” bound edition published in 1996.
Dixon: This neighboring community in northern Solano County is home to many who work in Davis but prefer Dixon’s small-town ways and want lower-cost housing.
Dog parks: When the Davis Cemetery District board of directors decided dogs should no longer run free at the cemetery, residents started demanding other dog park options. Through great persistence and dedication, Davis dog lovers were able to persuade the City Council to build Toad Hollow Dog Park, a fully fenced, off-leash area with a double-lock entry gate, drinking fountain and trash stations with plastic bags. Toad Hollow Dog Park is at 1919 Second St. Another fenced, off-leash dog run is at Community Park, 1405 F St. (west of the skate park).
D-QU: Established in 1971 on a former military base, D-Q University was the only accredited inter-tribal two-year Native American college in the United States outside a reservation. The school, 7 miles west of Davis on County Road 31, used to serve as a community center for Native Americans, but it remains closed after loss of accreditation, administrative problems and infighting among members of the board of directors.
Dunning, Bob: For 40-plus years now, this sometimes-controversial Enterprise columnist has commented on Davis, which he calls “The City of All Things Right and Relevant.”
El Macero: With its own golf course and country club, El Macero — or “Elmo” as some locals refer to it — is happy not to be a part of Davis, but rather an unincorporated area of Yolo County.
Ethnic festivals: Each spring, UC Davis comes alive with a series of cultural days celebrating Mexican-American, Asian-Pacific, Native American and African-American contributions to the campus and community. The celebrations are marked by picnics, dances, lectures and academic events, all of which are open to the public.
Farmers Market, Davis: Recently voted “America’s Favorite Farmers Market,” this is a Davis institution. On Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, the market dominates Central Park, offering food and crafts from local growers and artists. Picnic in the Park, which takes place Wednesday evenings from April through October, brings out local restaurants, bands, kids’ activities and large crowds.
Football stadiums: UC Davis opened its new, $31 million Aggie Stadium in September 2007. It’s a fantastic — although sometimes blazingly hot — place to watch the UCD Aggies compete against other Big Sky Conference football teams. Ron & Mary Brown Stadium opened to rave reviews at Davis High School in the fall of 2009 after a major fundraising campaign by the DHS Blue & White Foundation. Grandstands, concession stands and restrooms opened the following autumn.
Guinness record: Yes, Davis owns one, thanks to the 2010 “World’s Greatest Bicycle Parade,” organized by the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge. Nearly 1,000 bicyclists pedaled in a single line last October to earn the record.
Hattie Weber Museum: Built in 1911, the tiny Old Davis Library was at 117 F St. When the new library was built on East 14th Street, the old library served various uses and became the downtown recreation building for city programs. In 1988 it was moved from F Street to the northeast corner of Central Park where it now stands at 445 C St.
Hunt-Wesson cannery: This East Covell Boulevard plant, Davis’ nod to blue-collar workers and the sweaty side of agriculture, closed in 1999. It used to employ about 200 people year-round, and as many as 1,500 during the peak tomato-processing season. In the late summers, the pungent smell of processed tomatoes hung thick in the air. A new housing development, dubbed Cannery Park, has been in the works for several years, but its future remains unknown.
International House: I-House, as it is called, is a retreat for foreign students, scholars and members of the community interested in global issues. The house at 10 College Park was expanded in 1997.
Joggers, The: A bronze piece consisting of two running figures by Tony Natsoulas, this work of art has an interesting “only in Davis” story. When the piece was installed in the spring of 1986 outside what was then the Davis Police Department at 226 F St. — now, Bistro 33 — some community members worried that the joggers’ pointing fingers could pose a safety hazard. Later, the figures were moved back from the sidewalk a few feet.
Madrigals, The: Known for beautiful music and luxurious costumes, the Davis High School Madrigal Choir has earned a national and international reputation. In competitions at the Llangollen International Eisted-dfod in Wales, the choir has won the distinction as the best chamber choir.
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts: This sumptuous theater on the southern edge of campus nestles right up to the railroad tracks, but fear not — fabulous soundproofing and unparalleled acoustics have earned it high marks among performers and patrons alike. Top-notch performers and speakers, from Itzhak Perlman to Savion Glover to former President Clinton, have graced the stage. It received a moderate facelift as its tiles needed replacement due to leaks in the wall.
Movie theaters: Davis movie buffs have 13 screens from which to watch mainstream and independent features. The Regal Stadium 5 complex in the Fifth and G Plaza has comfy stadium-style seats. Regal Holiday 6 offers six screens at First and F streets. And the Varsity Theatre, 616 Second St., shows independent films on two screens.
MU: The Memorial Union complex on the UC Davis campus is the hub of the campus. The Coffee House is a popular spot, and opens onto the Quad. In addition to food and books, the MU offers a 16-lane bowling alley, pool room and arcade. Many public talks and lectures are held in MU meeting rooms.
Muir Commons: Residents of the nation’s first co-housing project took residence in 1992 on Muir Woods Place in the Aspen subdivision of West Davis. Homeowners have their own townhouses, but they also share a common kitchen and dining room where they can cook and eat meals together if they choose.
Mustangs: This gets confusing, so pay close attention. The mustang was once the official mascot of UC Davis, although most people thought the mascot was the Bossy Cow-Cow, otherwise known as Hamburger Patty. Some years ago, much to the chagrin of some of UCD’s elder alumni, students ousted the mustang, known as Ollie, in place of the cow. But now the official UCD logo includes a mustang, named “Gunrock.” The horse as a UCD symbol dates back to 1921, when the U.S. Army brought a stud thoroughbred son of Man o’ War named Gunrock to campus to supply high-quality stock for the cavalry.
Noise ordinance: There’ll be no loud music in this town, and don’t even think about snoring. The Farmers Market and leaf blowers also have been the subject of Davis’ controversial and confusing noise ordinance. Violators can receive a fine.
“The Davis Children’s Nutcracker”: This elaborate annual holiday production involves more than 250 children portraying everything from mice to snowflakes. Tickets are hard to come by and go first to family members.
Picnic Day: UCD’s annual April open house can draw up to 60,000 visitors to the university — if it doesn’t rain. Favorite events include the parade, dachshund races and the Frisbee dog contest. In the past few years, Picnic Day has become a bit more raucous than event planners might like. Alcohol-related arrests and mayhem in 2010 motivated talk of canceling the event. But steps toward a kinder, gentler Picnic Day — along with a larger police presence — helped make the last couple of campus open houses less problematic.
Putah Creek: The south fork of the creek is what people refer to when they talk about Putah Creek, which runs from Lake Berryessa into the Yolo Bypass. (The north fork of the creek, which is dammed at both ends, is the waterway you find on the UC Davis campus.) In the early 1990s, the creek dried up in several places during a drought, but local environmental activists including Putah Creek Council went to court to seek higher water flows from Lake Berryessa. A historic accord was signed years ago, bringing together several different water agencies. Putah Creek is today a healthy waterway that has seen the return of salmon and other native fish.
Quad, The: The center of the university campus, this 10-acre open space is a happening place for students to eat lunch, relax and listen to noon speakers or musicians.
Raptor Center: Part of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, the Raptor Center is home to all kinds of sick or injured birds of prey, including owls, falcons and eagles. Open to the public, the center is run by a group of dedicated student and community volunteers, who kept programs alive after they were threatened by budget cuts.
Recycling: We were recycling before recycling was cool. A curbside recycling program has been active for more than 40 years. Recycle your paper (newspaper, cereal-type boxes, junk mail, magazines, mixed paper), aluminum and tin cans, glass jars and bottles, and plastic soda bottles in your cool, rolling split-recycling cart.
Secret Store: As part of the Davis Art Center’s Holiday Sale, its main fundraiser, there is a wonderful shopping experience for children allowing them the chance to buy gifts for their families and friends without ruining the secret. The Children’s Secret Store, held annually on the first weekend of December, is staffed with volunteers who help children shop and even wrap their selections secretly, while their parents peruse the many items available at the DAC Holiday Sale.
Shields, Peter J.: The father of UC Davis. In 1899, Shields was the secretary of the state Agricultural Society. In talking to farmers and friends at the State Fair, Shields learned that California had no farm college. In 1903, he began lobbying the Legislature to pass a bill creating a dairy school and experimental farm. In 1906 a site selection committee picked Davisville, and classes began in 1908.
Sister cities: Davis currently has nine, with many of them reflecting shared interests or environmental situations. Our sister cities are Inuyama, Japan; Qufu and Wuxi, China; Uman, Ukraine; Rutilio Grande, El Salvador; SangJu, Korea; Munoz and Los Banos, Philippines; and Faa’a, Tahiti.
“Solar Intersections“: San Francisco artist Robert Behrens created the artwork that stands 40 feet tall in front of the Southern Pacific Depot at the end of Second Street. Ten Mylar-covered steel poles capture the sunlight and scatter light to create a changing display of color. The artist said his piece (which cost about $32,000) was appropriate for Davis, a town with a strong interest in solar energy.
Southern Pacific Depot: The train depot in downtown Davis, built in 1913, is distinguished by its California Mission-style architecture. It was remodeled several years ago with a series of grants from the state. In addition to Amtrak trains, the terminal is used as the Greyhound depot and is served by Unitrans buses.
Stephens Branch Library: The public library shares the honor with the school system of being Davis’ oldest institution. As a formal branch of the Yolo County library system, it was in place six years before the city of Davis was incorporated in 1917. The library that most people are familiar with, the one at 315 E. 14th St., was built in 1968 (the first library is now the Hattie Weber Museum in Central Park), was expanded in 1992 and was further expanded in 2010. A South Davis satellite branch is at Montgomery Elementary School.
Toad tunnel: When construction began on the Pole Line Road overcrossing, environmentalists worried about frogs being squashed en route to their breeding grounds. The idea of the toad tunnel (common in Europe) was to protect the frogs on their journey. There’s no consensus yet as to whether any toads actually use the tunnel. Toad Hollow, a miniature town, is just a hop away from the toad tunnel. It was designed by the late Ted Puntillo Sr. Toad Hollow includes a pub, restaurant, hotel and is located outside of the post office. It has been memorialized in a children’s book: “The Toads of Davis: A Saga of a Small Town” written by Puntillo.
Toomey Field: Named after I.F. Toomey, UC Davis athletic director from 1921 to 1961, this has been the site of Aggie home football games as well as several track and field meets. Toomey Field has a seating capacity of about 10,000. “The Toom” said goodbye to football in 2006 when the Aggies moved to a new multi-use stadium off Hutchison Drive.
Trees: Davis’ beautiful tree-lined streets give the Core Area downtown the feel of a small Midwestern town. Davis street trees include almonds, the Chinese hackberry, sycamores, Chinese tallow (it looks like an aspen), thornless honey locusts and many varieties of ash.
Turkey Trot: This annual walk, walk/run and run takes place each year on the weekend before Thanksgiving and attracts a lot of people. More than 3,000 adults and children are expected at this year’s annual event, which starts downtown at the corner of Sixth and C streets. The winners receive — what else? — a turkey.
UC Davis: Without this, we’d be Woodland — not that there’s anything wrong with that. The foundation of Davis, UCD began as the University Farm in 1906, an adjunct to UC Berkeley. It now boasts a law school, medical school, College of Engineering, a Graduate School of Management and School of Veterinary Medicine.
Unitrans: The university’s transportation system, with a staff of all-student drivers, is famous for its London-style double-decker buses. It also has a fleet of natural gas-powered buses.
U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame: We’ve always touted ourselves as the Bicycle Capital of the United States. Now, we really are, thanks to the 2009 relocation of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame from New Jersey to Davis. It is housed in the former teen center at 303 Third St., downtown and features changing exhibits honoring Hall of Fame inductees and bicycling history.
Veterans’ Memorial Theater: On 14th Street, the building is used for everything from high school plays to dance recitals by Davis’ professional companies. Bookings run one year in advance in this city-subsidized performance venue, part of the Veterans’ Memorial Center. Other rooms and the patio at the VMC are used for events like meetings and wedding receptions.
Village Homes: In West Davis, this unique subdivision built in the 1980s is partly responsible for the city’s reputation for being a pioneer in the use of solar energy and conservation. It’s on the must-see list for every VIP who comes to Davis. Past visitors have included Prince Charles, Rosalynn Carter and French President Francois Mitterrand. It’s a little ironic that one of Davis’ claims to fame is a developer’s subdivision.
Water tank: The artists who painted “Same Sun” — also known as Davis’ east area water tank — hope it tells passersby that Davis is about more than cows and bicycles. Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel painted Davis’ 4 million-gallon canvas thanks to a $75,000 grant from the City Council. Changing seasonal shadows fill in blanks where letters spell out the Latin words, “Sol omnibus lucet.”
Water towers: There are three in Davis — two on campus (west of Mrak Hall and one near the dairy) and one in town, off Eighth Street.
Davis wetlands: Spanning 400 acres in the southern panhandle of Conaway Ranch, between Willow Slough and the Yolo Bypass, this $6 million wetlands project is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ nationwide effort to restore natural habitat lost through federal development. Funded 75 percent by the federal government but operated by the city of Davis, the project combines stormwater and treated wastewater from the nearby city treatment plant to create a habitat area with continuous water circulation.
West Village: A whole new community has sprouted up on UC Davis ag land south of Russell Boulevard and west of Highway 113. West Village is home to students, faculty and staff members as well as the site of a new satellite center for Sacramento City College.
Whole Earth Festival: Each spring, this counter-culture event draws hippies and spectators from across Northern California to a three-day handicraft and music celebration on campus featuring speakers and activists.
Wildhorse: Surrounded by an 18-hole championship golf course, this newest Davis subdivision was the focus of a prolonged political controversy but now is home to hundreds of families.
Wildlife ponds: There are two in Davis. West Davis Pond, off Arlington Boulevard, attracts numerous birds. Another bird sanctuary, wildlife habitat and pond is in North Davis off the extension of Anderson Road at Northstar Park. It also is visible to the west if you’re driving up County Road 101A toward Woodland.
Winters: This small town, known as “The Gateway to Lake Berryessa,” is 15 miles from Davis. It also is home to the county’s top fruit and nut orchards and is an increasingly popular bedroom community for those who work in Davis or Sacramento.
Woodland: The City of Trees and the Yolo County seat, Woodland boasts its own restored and active opera house, a beautiful collection of historic homes, a fiercely independent library and the home of the state’s only free-admission county fair (in August). Seven miles north of Davis, about 55,000 people call Woodland home.
Yolo: The word is derived from the Patwin Indians who lived on this land when the Europeans were settling the New World. “Yolo” means “tule place”; a tule is a reedy marsh plant similar to a cattail. In recent years, YOLO has gotten a hipster makeover as the acronym for “You Only Live Once.”
Yolo Basin Foundation: Is a nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to inspiring and educating people about wetlands and wildlife. This 3,300-acre reserve demonstrates what can be done when all stakeholders (local, county, state, nation and private landowners) are brought together to work toward a common goal of preservation. President Clinton visited the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area in 1997.
Yolo County: We tend to vote Democratic and slightly left of center, but we’re also an economically conservative agricultural county. Tomatoes, wine grapes, almonds and rice are our biggest products.
Zipcar: Environmentally correct transportation, or major city boondoggle? Controversy has swirled around these shared cars on the E Street Plaza and at University Mall. Acting on a recommendation from the city of Davis Climate Action Team, the council approved a contract with Massachusetts-based Zipcar in an attempt to reduce our carbon footprint.