Category Archives: Essays

Features and essays

East Sacramento Knob and Tube Wiring

This post is courtesy of Nathan Sherman, long time resident and East Sac real estate specialist. Enjoy a peek at our past.

Knob and Tube Wiring and Appliances

I sold a neighbor a house that I once lived in when I first moved back to California. It is a great older home in East Sac, on one of the friendliest blocks you could ever want.

The lender called me with the concern from the insurance company that the house still has knob and tube wiring. The lenders concern was that modern appliances shouldn’t be run on knob and tube wiring and they wanted to know if the whole house is knob and tube.

I looked at the inspection report and the pictures of the electrical panel all opened up by the inspector. Sure enough, there is plenty of new wiring connectors in there. Looking at the pictures in the crawl space there is a mix of knob and tube as well as new wiring. When I asked my favorite home inspector what he remembered of this job from two weeks ago and if the wiring was updated for the appliances, he made a comment about the fact that most appliances weren’t around when knob and tube wiring was around.

This got me thinking and I did a bit of digging on the internet. Apparently knob and tube wiring was used from the 1880s through the early 1940s.

The next search turned up that the first hand powered dishwasher was invented in 1887 but the first domestic dishwasher didn’t come about until 1926 and they didn’t gain main stream use until the 1950s.

The first clothes washing machine goes back to 1752 and the first electric one was advertised in 1904. Demand for the electric washing machine really started picking up in the 1940s and by the 50s they were very popular.

Electric stoves were first patented in 1892 but were just a novelty until after the 1930s since electricity prices were so high and other fuel was more affordable.

While there is some overlap of the use of knob and tube wiring and some of our main electrical appliance, the majority of American homes probably never had knob and tube wiring run to these appliances.

What did I learn from this hour long trip down the historical rabbit hole of wiring and appliance? That I’m very lucky to have been born when I was and to have always lived with these great luxuries! Sure, when I was a kid we didn’t have cell phones and console games were things like Pong and Tang. Kids these days have no idea how good they have it, but then again, neither did I when I was their age (but I didn’t have the internet to look up how good I had it).

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Nextdoor.com—The mothership

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The first thing you see is the manifesto

They don’t make money and there’s no IPO, but Nextdoor.com is booming. The neighborhood social media company’s headquarters are in San Francisco and ESP visited them on Thursday.

Angel investors helped launch the start up and the young crew is busy working to join neighbors together.

The operation covers a whole floor of a historic building on Market Street and is tricked out like most Silicon job sites. Employees have a pingpong table, conversation cubbies, free food and drinks and a light-filled, airy, flexible workplace. Office design includes workrooms named after some of the original neighborhoods to join the network.

There is no East Sac room, yet

There is no East Sac room, yet

The hive

The hive

During my tour people waved, smiled and  yoo-hooed, but quickly returned to work. There was a high level of serious concentration in the cube-less work area.

I only have one complaint. There were no grey hairs walking around Nextdoor.com. This is the nature of social media, but many neighborhood group members and activists are 40+. (Often it’s when the kids are grown that neighbors have more time to volunteer.) Involving experienced (a-hem) older folks in the leadership team would be a positive move.

Nextdoor is working on many design and content changes. They soon will include neighborhood organizations, and they are fine tuning their layout and pages. One of the biggest challenges they face is making money. They won’t be selling any information, but they are considering offering local “groupon” type promotions and other user-choice money makers.

You can learn the full history and scope of the network on the Nextdoor.com website.

Ellen Cochrane

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