Housing Density - 1930-1990
Population in the Sierra Nevada peaked in the 1850's and declined to lows in most areas by the 1920's or 1930's. However, in the 1970's the "Second Gold Rush" began, and populations in many areas of the Sierra Nevada began to mushroom. According to the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) report, "The population of the Sierra Nevada more than doubled from 1970 to 1990, and its current population is approximately four times the peak population during the gold rush (18491852)... More people moved into the Sierra Nevada from 1970 to 1990 than migrated into the area during the entire gold rush through the 1850s."
In particular, the Interstate 80 and Highway 50 corridors have experienced explosive growth, as extended suburbs ("exurbs") of Sacramento. Lake Tahoe has followed suit. Growth, over the past 60 years has been primarily limited to the foothills areas, primarily due the fact that most of the higher elevation areas are in public ownership. The population of the Sierra Nevada was estimated at 618,000 in 1990 and is projected to triple to nearly 2,000,000 by 2040.
The map below shows the housing density (in units per square mile) in the Sierra Nevada in 1930. Move your mouse of "1990" to show the dramatic change in density by 1990.
Source: Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project Report, Volume II, Chapter 11, 1996.