Arcata, California

From Academic Kids

Arcata is a city located in Humboldt County, California. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 16,651. Visitors to Arcata frequently feel as if they had entered a time warp and emerged in the 60's era of granny-gowned, tied-died flower children driving VW busses adorned with peace signs. This college town is home to Humboldt State University, which accounts for approximately half of its residents.

Arcata, which is adjacent to Humboldt Bay on the "redwood coast," is a bastion of liberal thought in otherwise conservative lumber country and is sometimes derided by outlying Humboldt residents as "The People's Republic of Arcata." It is the first city in the United States to elect a majority of its city council members from the Green Party. Established during the timber boom generated by the 19th centrury Gold Rush, Arcata features a large number of original Victorian structures, many of which have been lovingly restored. For its size, the city has many bookstores, coffeehouses, restaurants, galleries and music venues. It is also home to the beloved Humboldt Crabs of semi-pro baseball fame, who frequently play before sold-out crowds (of c. 1500) each summer.

In order to preserve its community character, laws in Arcata limit the number of chain businesses allowed in the city. Residents hotly debate major issues, including protection of the physical environment, the domination of America by corporate culture, and legalization of marijuana. Arcata was the first city in the nation to pass a law purporting to nullify the SA PATRIOT Act in that city. The legality of this has not yet been tested.



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Location of Arcata, California

Arcata is located at 40°52'22" North, 124°4'58" West (40.872805, -124.082814)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.6 km² (11.0 mi²). 23.8 km² (9.2 mi²) of it is land and 4.8 km² (1.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 16.76% water.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 16,651 people, 7,051 households, and 2,813 families residing in the city. The population density is 699.6/km² (1,812.1/mi²). There are 7,272 housing units at an average density of 305.5/km² (791.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 84.51% White, 1.56% Black or African American, 2.65% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 3.49% from other races, and 5.31% from two or more races. 7.22% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 7,051 households out of which 19.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.9% are married couples living together, 10.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 60.1% are non-families. 34.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.16 and the average family size is 2.81.

In the city the population is spread out with 15.3% under the age of 18, 32.3% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 26 years. For every 100 females there are 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $22,315, and the median income for a family is $36,716. Males have a median income of $26,577 versus $24,358 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,531. 32.2% of the population and 14.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 22.4% of those under the age of 18 and 6.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Culture and institutions

Arcata is host of Humboldt State University, a part of the California State University system. With a student body of nearly half the town's total population, Arcata is a classic example of a traditional "college town" - with all the concomitant cultural advantages, but also with the inevitable tensions that arise between "townies" and the student population.

Work in Arcata consists largely of the timber industry (which is largely despised by college students), the university (which is often despised by conservatives and especially those in the timber industry), and small businesses that are often housed in converted houses.

The city is served by a weekly newspaper, the Arcata Eye. The newspaper police log ( is noted for its creative and entertaining use of puns, poetry, and humor to describe the police reports of a small town.


Arcata was first settled by pioneers seeking a deep water port between San Francisco and Seattle in 1850 under the name Uniontown. Originally it was expected to be a seaport for the Trinity gold fields that lay to the east, due to a misapprehension that the Mad River - which enters the Pacific just north of the town - was the outlet for the Trinity River.

Later realization that the Trinity was a tributary of the Klamath, combined with rapid siltification of the Arcata Bay (the northern end of Humboldt Bay), ended that expectation. Nevertheless, the town developed quickly as part of the redwood logging industry. It provided processed lumber for the rapid growth of San Francisco and other California towns farther south.

Recent History

In August of 1989, the voters of Arcata passed the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Act, prohibiting activities benefiting nuclear weapons contractors within city jurisdictional limits.

In 2003 the city passed a law making it illegal to voluntarily cooperate with enforcement of the USA PATRIOT Act, making it the first to take such a step.

Arcata is also known for its progressive involvement in Environmental Politics and Environmental activism. As an example, in 1981, Arcata constructed the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Arcata Marsh has multiple uses including recreation, wildlife habitat, education, and wastewater treatment. In 1996 Arcata elected the first-ever Green party city council majority.

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