Nevada City history, literally on display |

Nevada City history, literally on display

John Orona
Staff Writer

It’s not unusual to see residents and tourists peering into the shop windows of downtown Nevada City, hoping to get a peek at the wares and old-timey charm the historic district has to offer, but this month looking into some Nevada City windows will give you a glimpse into the past.

All throughout October Nevada City is celebrating its heritage with the 14th annual Windows on History exhibit, where shop owners display “mural-sized” photos in their windows depicting how their location looked between 1850 and 1920 when the photos were originally taken.

“It’s fascinating to see how the city was back then,” Eileen Jorgensen, founder of the event said. “It’s great to see how much it’s changed, but really how much has stayed the same. Not many cities have that history.”

Jorgensen said she was one of the founding members of the event when it started as part of a downtown association, before the tradition folded into the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce which organizes it now.

“We want to be able to keep the tradition going and to get younger people involved and informed about the history.”— Eileen Jorgensen

The annual tradition started as a way to drum up business, according to Jorgensen, but continues because of the city’s desire to preserve and celebrate its history. But after 14 years, the organizers are looking for a way to revitalize the practice.

“We’d love to attract more young business owners,” Jorgensen said. “We want to be able to keep the tradition going and to get younger people involved and informed about the history.”

The Chamber of Commerce is also hoping to revamp and upgrade the exhibit in the future with larger photos and a tour of them at all the locations.

This year the celebration will also include a tour of the Oustomah Lodge, in continuous use since 1873, at noon on Oct. 12. Organizers have also unveiled a new portrait honoring the area’s Nisenan heritage to be lit up and displayed at Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe.

Although there is no map available to those hoping to find all 45 photo locations, those interested can find photos in the storefronts of J.J. Jackson, Asylum Down and The Magic Carpet, along with others.

Contact Staff Writer John Orona at or 530-477-4229.

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