is a small city adjacent to the Arcata Bay (northern) portion of Humboldt Bay
in Humboldt County
, United States
. In 2006 Arcata's population was estimated to be 17,294. This college town
is home to Humboldt State University
Arcata is notably progressive
in its political makeup, and was the first city in the United States to elect a majority of its city council members from the Green Party
, however it is currently made up of a Democratic majority. As a result of the progressive majority, Arcata capped the number of chain restaurants allowed in the city. Arcata was the first city in the nation to pass a resolution in the spirit of nullifying the USA PATRIOT Act
in the city. The legality of the resolution has not yet been tested. Arcata was also the first municipality to ban the growth of any type of Genetically Modified Organism
within city limits, with exceptions for research and educational purposes.
Arcata is located at (40.8728, -124.0828).
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28.6 km²), of which, 9.2 square miles (23.8 km²) of it is land and 1.9 square miles (4.8 km²) of it (16.76%) is water.
There are several neighborhoods, or geophysical areas, that are within Arcata, including Aldergrove, Alliance, Bayside, the "Bottoms", California Heights, Greenview, Northtown, South G Street, Sunny Brae, Valley West, Westwood, and others.
Arcata's climate is dominated by marine influences associated with Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean. On average, Arcata experiences 40 - 50 inches of rain per year, mostly falling between October and April. Northerly winds keep the springs feeling very cold, and create a coastal upwelling of deep, cold ocean water. This upwelling in turn results in foggy conditions throughout the summer, with high temperatures commonly in the 50's and low 60's. Yet just a few miles inland the temperatures may be up to 50 degrees warmer in the summer and fall. Winter high temperatures average in the low 40's to mid-50's, with lows in the mid-30's to lower 40's. Temperatures rarely dip below in winters, and infrequently climb to the 70's Fahrenheit in late summer and fall.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 16,651 people, 7,051 households, and 2,813 families residing in the city. The population density
was 1,812.1 people per square mile (699.6/km²). There were 7,272 housing units at an average density of 791.4/sq mi (305.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 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 were Hispanic
of any race. Hispanics are a rapidly growing ethnic subgroup in Arcata and Humboldt County.
The composition of Arcata's households reflect the large number of unrelated college-age students living together. Of the 7,051 households in Arcata, only 19.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, only 25.9% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, while 60.1% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.81.
Arcata's age cohorts are also distorted by a large percentage of college-age students. Only 15.3% of Arcata residents are under the age of 18, while nearly a third (32.3%) fall between ages 18 and 24, and 27.8% are 25 to 44 years old. Among older age cohorts, 15.9% are 45 to 64 years old, and 8.7% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.
As of 2002, there were 8,210 employed persons living in Arcata and an unemployment rate of 7.2%. For many years the timber industry dominated Arcata's economy. Today the majority of Arcata jobs come from government (including schools and Humboldt State University), the city's many owner-resident small businesses, some lumber and food manufacturing, and a wide variety of service industries (ranging from professional services to restaurant and hospitality). A large but unmeasurable cannabis economy employs many in Arcata and the surrounding area. The area's economy and population are both growing more slowly than the State of California overall.
Median reported household income in Arcata was $22,315, and the median income for a family was $36,716. Males had a median income of $26,577 versus $24,358 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,531, however this figure may be artificially low due to the large student population. About 14.3% of families and 32.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature
Arcata is located in the 2nd Senate
District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins
, and in the 1st Assembly
District, represented by Democrat Patty Berg
. Federally, Arcata is located in California's 1st congressional district
The political leanings of Arcata are diverse. Arcata is a hub of liberal thought typical of a college town. Environmentalism and most liberal causes are prominently embraced. The area also is home to commercial fishermen and those in the timber industry who tend to follow a more conservative philosophy. but the decline of both industries has reduced the power base for conservative agendas. The college students and staff as well as old hippies and the current generation of neo-hippies provide the strongest political influences. Arcata was the first city to elect a member of the Green party to an office. The City Council, and at times even the mayor, is composed in part by college students.
Arcata is the site of Humboldt State University
, the northernmost campus of the 23-campus California State University
system. With a student body equaling nearly half the city'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 year round residents and the student population. Housing is a current example of the stress that students put upon local residents.
The heart of Arcata is the Plaza. In the 1850s the Plaza was where goods and services destined for the Trinity County mines were loaded onto mule trains. The Plaza has a green lawn, extensive flower plantings, and at its center a statue of President McKinley. The Plaza is surrounded by stores, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and live music venues. The Plaza is also the center of the summer time farmer's market, and serves as a venue for 4th of July festivities, the Oyster Festival, the start of the Kinetic Sculpture Race, and the North County Fair. The Plaza is also a popular rendezvous point for travelers on the great West Coast hippie trail who stop off in Arcata.
Arcata also features a large number of original Victorian structures, many of which have been restored, and is home to the Minor Theater, one of the oldest movies-only theaters in the United States which is still in operation.
The Wiyot People and Yurok People lived in this area prior to Russian and European arrival. "Kori" is the name for the Wiyot settlement that existed on the site of what would become Arcata. The natives of this region are the farthest-southwest people whose language has Algonquian roots. The traditional homeland of the Wiyot ranged from the Little River in the north and continues south through Humboldt Bay (including the present cities of Eureka and Arcata) and then south to the lower Eel River basin. The traditional homeland of the Yurok ranges from Mad River to beyond the Klamath River in the north. Due to several factors, including the effects of disease and the loss of traditional sources of food, their population was reduced to less than 5% of pre-European numbers. The Yurok managed slightly better. The native languages of all local tribes have been almost completely lost and the tribes are no longer truly distinct groups.
The Yurok Tribe was granted fishing rights on the lower Klamath river as salmon and steelhead are traditional foodstuffs for them and of great cultural significance.
Arcata was originally founded as the town of Union (the permanent name change occurred in 1860). Union was created as a port and re-provisioning center for the gold mines in the Klamath, Trinity, and Salmon mountains to the east. It was slightly closer to the mines than Eureka
, which gave Union an early advantage. What was to become the first significant town on Humboldt Bay
began as Union Company employees laid out the plaza and first city streets in the Spring of 1850. By later in the 1850s redwood timber replaced the depleted gold fields as the economic driver for the region, and Eureka became the principal city on the bay, gaining the county seat by the end of the decade.
Recently being home of three dedicated hydroponic supply stores in Arcata, and many more "grow" houses, Arcata has been mentioned in many national news outlets such as the New York Times , regarding its culture of drug use.
In August 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.
On January 4, 2006, the Arcata city council adopted the New Year's Resolution, demanding the impeachment or the resignation of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney for violations of Constitutional and International law, making it the first city to pass such a resolution. This is the second time the City Council has passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.
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. This majority was lost two years later, restored in 2004 and lost again in 2006.
U.S. Route 101
extends north and south and bisects the city. The downtown has several overcrossings, Arcata is considered a fairly walkable
community State Route 299
connects to U.S. Route 101 at the northern end of Arcata. SR 299 begins at this point and extends easterly towards Weaverville
, and Nevada
The highways connecting Arcata to areas outside Humboldt County contain long segments of winding two-lane road traversing remote mountains and river canyons, portions of which can become closed after extensive rain and wind storms, necessitating sometimes very long detours. Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna and the Redwood Coast region is one of the most remote locations along the continental US west coast.
Redwood Transit System
(RTS) is the major provider of public bus transportation in Humboldt County with several stops in Arcata. Arcata and Mad River Transit Service
(AMRTS) is the local bus and serves Arcata and a small surrounding area. Dial-A-Ride service is available from Humboldt Senior Resource Center through an application process.
Transit and longhaul bus services including Amtrak and Greyhound use the Arcata Transit Center as their central interchange point for Arcata.
The closest airport is the Arcata-Eureka Airport
and is located in McKinleyville
. This airport was built by the Army Air Corps
in World War II
in a particularly foggy location, as a site to test fog dispersal techniques. No successful dispersal method appears to have been found, and after demobilization the airfield was given to the County of Humboldt as a civilian airport. This airport is one of the foggiest in the world, which can affect flights. Some flights are canceled or diverted to Redding, California
, a three hour drive to the east.
There is a deep water port in nearby Eureka. In 1854, the Union Wharf and Plank Walk Company built redwood plank and rails out into the deeper water of Arcata Bay, providing Arcata with a deep-water seaport. This was initially a horse-drawn railroad, though it was later converted to steam. This eventually became the Arcata and Mad River Railroad
(now defunct). Arcata's wharf is long gone, and only a few piers can be seen at low tide. Some very small recreational boats can be launched from the foot of I street at the Arcata Marsh at high tide. However, at low tide Arcata Bay becomes a vast mud flat and a challenge to boaters.
The newspaper with the largest circulation produced in the city is the regional weekly publication known as the North Coast Journal
. The paper is free and circulates 22,000 papers a week throughout the northcoast region. The Arcata Eye
is a newspaper covering Arcata and Blue Lake
that is published weekly in Arcata; the paper has some renown outside of the area for its humorously-written police blotter.
. HSU also has a weekly student-run paper called The Lumberjack
, which won California College Newspaper Association awards for General Excellence (third place), Back to School Issue (first place), editorial (third place), and feature photo (first place) in 2008 for Fall 2007 issues. The university also has a student-run, general-interest magazine, the Osprey, which is published once per semester. Osprey has won several awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists' award for "Best Student Magazine Published More than Once a Year" for the Western region (California, Nevada, Arizona) in 2005. The Times-Standard
is the only major regional daily publication covering Arcata. The The Eureka Reporter
, which reduced publication at the end of 2007 and cut its staff by 25%, remains a major regional 5 day per week publication. Arcata also has a number of small 'zines
that cover a variety of issues important to Arcatans, such as youth culture and homelessness
The Northcoast Environmental Center, located in Arcata, publishes the Econews, a monthly journal dedicated to "educate, activate, and when necessary litigate on behalf of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion."
Arcata Community Access Channel served the area for many years.
The Arcata Marsh
, started in 1979, is a revolutionary marsh-based wastewater treatment system. The marsh was built on a retired municipal solid waste dump and has received many awards, including the Innovations in Government
award from the Ford Foundation
and Harvard University Kennedy School
of Government. The marsh is a popular destination for cyclists, bird watchers, transients, and joggers.
Arcata is also one of the several North Coast "nuclear free" zones.
The community has been active in saving the Headwaters Forest from logging. The effort to save the Headwaters Forest in the 1990s resulted in the arrests of hundreds and strained Humboldt County's abilities to deal with the protesters who trespassed, littered, and left human waste throughout the forests, peoples yards, and highway right-of-ways. Some of the more militant environmentalists also drove steel spikes into trees belonging to the lumber companies as a way to discourage logging by creating a serious safety concern. A logging protester, who was trespassing, was accidentally killed by a falling tree.
Arcata is home to the Humboldt Crabs, the nation's longest continuously operated semi-pro baseball team.
- The Plaza, by Susan Van Kirk, 1986. White City Publishing. Arcata, CA.
- Interactive detail map from Appropedia, the Appropriate Technology wiki.