As California cities grew with the Gold Rush and transcontinental railroad, poverty, unemployment, and class antagonism grew as well. Overcrowded cities weren’t well managed. Public health problems erupted. Cremation in Sacramento and other cities was seen as a means to improve hygiene, and diminish public health issues.
Boards of health and citizen sanitation committees included physicians, attorneys, social scientists, and businessmen, and all supported cremation as a means to improve sanitation. The end of the nineteenth century brought a shift in opinion, with cremation losing support to immunization. When immunization decreased the incidence of disease, there was less support for cremation as a means to prevent the spread of disease. Additionally, embalming became a common way to prepare a body, further changing handling of the deceased.
Sacramento cremations gained favor again in the 20th century for more intellectual reasons, that cremation was rational, clean, and economical. Attention shifted from the debate over cremation to building and managing crematories. Cremation became a matter of individual choice rather than public policy.
Many in Sacramento chose, and still choose, cremation based on their faith. Where religion did not support cremation, individuals of that faith did not support cremation. The Catholic Church in particular was anti-cremation, initiating a ban against cremation in 1886. The ban was lifted in 1963, allowing Catholics to choose cremation.
Today, the number of people in Sacramento who choose cremation for final needs continues to rise. The choice of a Sacramento cremation is largely due to its low cost compared to the cost of burial. However, cremation is also chosen as a green alternative to burial, and for its ease and flexibility. Many today wish to reduce their final footprint, choosing not to occupy limited land space for eternity. Now, cremation in California is chosen for final needs more than half the time.