Eureka, California

For the former settlement in Nevada County, see Eureka, Nevada County, California. For other uses, see Eureka (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Yreka, California.
Eureka, California
Charter city
City of Eureka

Aerial view: Eureka on Humboldt Bay

Motto: Eureka! (I have found it!)[1]

Eureka shown within Humboldt County
in the State of California
Eureka, California

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 40°48′07″N 124°09′49″W / 40.80194°N 124.16361°W / 40.80194; -124.16361Coordinates: 40°48′07″N 124°09′49″W / 40.80194°N 124.16361°W / 40.80194; -124.16361[2]
Country United States
State California
County Humboldt
Founded May 13, 1850
Incorporated (town) April 18, 1856[3]
Re-incorporated (city) February 19, 1874
  Type Council-Manager[4]
  Mayor Frank Jager[5]
  City manager Greg Sparks[6]
  State senator Mike McGuire (D)[7]
  Assemblymember Jim Wood (D)[8]
  U. S. rep. Jared Huffman (D)[9]
  City 14.454 sq mi (37.435 km2)
  Land 9.384 sq mi (24.305 km2)
  Water 5.070 sq mi (13.130 km2)  35.07%
  Urban 18.498 sq mi (47.908 km2)
Elevation[2] 39 ft (12 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[11]
  City 27,191
  Estimate (2013)[11] 26,913
  Density 1,900/sq mi (730/km2)
  Urban 45,034[12][13]
Demonym(s) Eurekan
Time zone Pacific (UTC−8)
  Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
ZIP codes[14] 95501–95503, 95534
Area code 707
FIPS code 06-23042
GNIS feature IDs 277605, 2410463


Reference no. 477

Eureka (Hupa: do'-wi-lotl-ding'[16] Karuk: uuth[17]) is the principal city and county seat of Humboldt County in the Redwood Empire region of California. The city is located on U.S. Route 101 on the shores of Humboldt Bay, 270 miles (430 km) north of San Francisco and 100 miles (160 km) south of the Oregon border.[18] At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,191,[19] and the population of Greater Eureka[20][21] was 45,034.[13]

Eureka is the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland,[22] and the westernmost city of more than 25,000 residents in the 48 contiguous states.[23][24] It is the regional center for government, health care, trade, and the arts on the North Coast north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Greater Eureka, one of California's major commercial fishing ports, is the location of the largest deep-water port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, a stretch of about 500 miles (800 km).[23] The headquarters of both the Six Rivers National Forest and the North Coast Redwoods District of the California State Parks System are in Eureka. As entrepôt for hundreds of lumber mills that once existed in the area, the city played a leading role in the historic West Coast lumber trade. The entire city is a state historic landmark, which has hundreds of significant Victorian homes, including the nationally-recognized Carson Mansion, and the city has retained its original 19th-century commercial core as a nationally recognized Old Town Historic District.[25] Eureka is home to California's oldest zoo, the Sequoia Park Zoo.[26]


Eureka's Pacific coastal location on Humboldt Bay, adjacent to abundant redwood forests, provided the reason for settlement of this 19th-century seaport town. Before the arrival of Euro-American settlers, including farmers, miners, fishermen, and loggers, the area was occupied by indigenous peoples.

Native Americans

Main article: Wiyot people

The Wiyot people lived in Jaroujiji (Wiyot: "where you sit and rest"), now known as Eureka, for thousands of years prior to European arrival. They are the farthest-southwest people whose language has Algonquian roots. Their traditional coastal homeland ranged from the lower Mad River through Humboldt Bay and south along the lower basin of the Eel River. The Wiyot are particularly known for their basketry and fishery management.[27] An extensive collection of intricate basketry of the area's indigenous groups exists in the Clarke Historical Museum in Old Town Eureka.

As of 2013, Eureka High School has the largest Yurok language program in California.[28]

Founding on Humboldt Bay

Main article: Humboldt Bay
A Humboldt Bay (Woodley Island) view of Indian Island (both within the city limits) and the memorial to fisherman

For nearly 300 years after 1579, European exploration of the coast of what would become northern California repeatedly missed definitively locating Humboldt Bay due to a combination of geographic features and weather conditions which concealed the narrow bay entrance from view. Despite a well-documented 1806 sighting by Russian explorers, the bay was not definitively known by Europeans until an 1849 overland exploration provided a reliable accounting of the exact location of what is the second largest bay in California.[29] The timing of this discovery would lead to the May 13, 1850 founding of the settlement of Eureka on its shore by the Union and Mendocino Exploring (development) companies.[30]

Gold Rush era

After the primary California Gold Rush in the Sierras, Humboldt Bay was settled with the intent of providing a convenient alternative to the long overland route from Sacramento to supply miners on the Trinity, Klamath and Salmon Rivers where gold had been discovered. Though the ideal location on Humboldt Bay adjacent to naturally deeper shipping channels ultimately guaranteed Eureka's development as the primary city on the bay, Arcata's proximity to developing supply lines to inland gold mines ensured supremacy over Eureka through 1856.[25]

"Eureka" received its name from a Greek word meaning "I have found it!"[31][32] This exuberant statement of successful (or hopeful) gold rush miners is also the official Motto of the State of California. Eureka is the only U.S. location to use the same seal as the state for its seal.[33] In the United States, Eureka, California is the largest of about a dozen towns and cities dating from the mid-nineteenth century that share the name Eureka.

The 1860 Wiyot Massacre

The first Europeans venturing into Humboldt Bay encountered the indigenous Wiyot. Records of early forays into the bay in 1806 reported that the violence of the local indigenous people made it nearly impossible for landing parties to survey the area. After 1850, Europeans ultimately overwhelmed the Wiyot, whose maximum population before the Europeans was in the hundreds in the area of what would become the county's primary city. But in almost every case, settlers ultimately cut off access to ancestral sources of food in addition to the outright theft of land despite efforts of some US Government and military officials to assist the native peoples or at least maintain peace. The 1860 Wiyot Massacre took place on Indian Island in the spring of 1860, committed by a group of locals, thought to be primarily Eureka businessmen.[30] The chronicle of the behavior of European settlers toward the indigenous cultures locally and throughout America is presented in detail in the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park museum, on the southern edge of the city.

King timber

Mill yard across the bay from Eureka

Eureka's first post office opened in 1853[34] just as the town began to carve its grid pattern into the edge of a forest it would ultimately consume to feed the building of San Francisco and beyond. Many of the first immigrants who arrived as prospectors were also lumbermen, and the vast potential for industry on the bay was soon realized, especially as many hopeful gold miners realized the difficulty and infrequency of striking it rich in the mines. By 1854, after only four years since the founding, seven of nine mills processing timber into marketable lumber on Humboldt Bay were within Eureka. A year later 140 lumber schooners operated in and out of Humboldt Bay moving lumber from the mills to booming cities along the Pacific coast.[30] By the time the charter for Eureka was granted in 1856, busy mills inside the city had a daily production capacity of 220,000 board feet.[35] This level of production, which would grow significantly and continue for more than a century secured Eureka as the "timber capital" of California. Eureka was at the apex of rapid growth of the lumber industry due to its placement between huge coast redwood forests and its control of the primary port facilities. Loggers brought the enormous redwood trees down. Dozens of movable narrow gauge railroads brought trainloads of logs and finished lumber products to the main rail line, which led directly to Eureka's wharf and waiting schooners. By the 1880s, railroads eventually brought the production of hundreds of mills throughout the region to Eureka, primarily, for shipment through its port. After the early 1900s shipment of products occurred by trucks, trains, and ships from Eureka, Humboldt Bay, and other points in the region, but Eureka would remain the busy center of all this activity for over 120 years. These factors and others made Eureka a significant city in early California state history.

Commercial center

The Carson Mansion (1886) in Eureka's Old Town

A bustling commercial district and ornate Victorians rose in proximity to the waterfront, reflecting the great prosperity experienced during this era. Hundreds of these Victorian homes remain today, of which many are totally restored and a few have always remained in their original elegance and splendor. The representation of these homes in Eureka grouped with those in nearby Arcata and the Victorian village of Ferndale are of considerable importance to the overall development of Victorian architecture built in the nation. The magnificent Carson Mansion on 2nd and M Streets, is perhaps the most spectacular Victorian in the nation. The home was built between 1884–1886 by renowned 19th Century architects Newsom and Newsom for lumber baron William M. Carson. This project was designed to keep mill workers and expert craftsman busy during a slow period in the industry. Old Town Eureka, the original downtown center of this busy city in the 19th Century, has been restored and has become a lively arts center.[36] The Old Town area has been declared an Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. The district is made up of over 150 buildings, which in total represents much of Eureka's original 19th-century core commercial center. This nexus of culture behind the redwood curtain still contains much of its Victorian architecture, which, if not maintained for original use as commercial buildings or homes, have been transformed into scores of unique lodgings, restaurants, and small shops featuring a burgeoning cottage industry of hand-made creations from glass ware to wood burning stoves and a large variety of art created locally.

Fishing, shipping, and boating

Illustrated Map of Eureka (1902)

Eureka's founding and livelihood was and remains linked to Humboldt Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and related industries, especially fishing. Salmon fisheries sprang up along the Eel River as early as 1851, and within seven years 2,000 barrels of cured fish and 50,000 pounds (23,000 kg) of smoked salmon were processed and shipped out of Humboldt Bay annually from processing plants on Eureka's wharf. In 1858 the first of many ships built in Eureka was launched beginning an industry that spanned scores of years. The bay is also the site of the west coast's largest Oyster farming operations, which began its commercial status in the nineteenth century. Eureka is the home port to more than 100 fishing vessels (with an all-time high of over 400 in 1981) in two modern marinas which can berth approximately 400 boats within the city limits of Eureka[37] and at least 50 more in nearby Fields Landing, which is part of Greater Eureka. Area catches historically include, among other species, salmon, tuna, Dungeness crab, and shrimp, with historic annual total fishing landings totaling about 36,000,000 pounds (16,000,000 kg) in 1981[35] Humboldt State University docks its own vessel, a floating classroom, at Woodley Island Marina, which is Eureka's largest marina.

Chinese expulsion

Rising emigration from China in the late 1800s sparked conflict between white settlers and immigrants, which ultimately led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Economic downturns resulting in competition for jobs led some white people to commit violent actions against Chinese immigrants, especially on the Pacific coast. In February 1885, the racial tension in Eureka broke when Eureka City Councilman David Kendall was caught in the crossfire of two rival Chinese gangs and killed. This led to the convening of 600 Eureka men and resulted in the forcible permanent expulsion of all 480 Chinese residents of Eureka's Chinatown.[38] The expelled Chinese unsuccessfully attempted to sue for damages. In the U.S. Circuit Court case Wing Hing v. Eureka, the court noted that the Chinese owned no land and held that their other property was worthless. A citizen's committee then drafted an unofficial law decreeing:

  1. That all Chinamen be expelled from the city and that none be allowed to return.
  2. That a committee be appointed to act for one year, whose duty shall be to warn all Chinamen who may attempt to come to this place to live, and to use all reasonable means to prevent their remaining. If the warning is disregarded, to call mass meetings of citizens to whom the case will be referred for proper action.
  3. That a notice be issued to all property owners through the daily papers, requesting them not to lease or rent property to Chinese.

Among those who guarded the city jail during the height of the Sinophobic tension was (then) future Governor of California James Gillett, himself a recent resident of the city.[39] The anti-Chinese ordinance was not repealed until 1959.[38][40]

Queen City of the Ultimate West

The Tudor Revival style Eureka Inn (1922)

Completion of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in 1914 provided the local lumber industry with an alternative to ships for transport of its millions of board feet of lumber to reach markets in San Francisco and beyond. It also provided the first safe land route between San Francisco and Eureka for people to venture to the Redwood Empire without risking their lives on ships. As a direct result, Eureka's population of 7,300 swelled to 15,000 within ten years. By 1922 the Redwood Highway was completed, providing for the first reliable, direct overland route for automobiles from San Francisco. By 1931 the Eureka Street Railway operated fifteen streetcars over twelve miles of track.[41] Eureka's transportation connection to the "outside" world had changed dramatically after more than half a century of stage rides or treacherous steamship passage through the Humboldt Bar and on the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco. The building of the Eureka Inn coincided with the opening of the new road to San Francisco. As a result of immense civic pride during this early 20th Century era of expansion, Eureka officially nicknamed itself "Queen City of the Ultimate West." The tourism industry, lodging to support it, and related marketing had been born.[25] The United States Navy operated a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility for blimps at Eureka during World War II.[42]

Post-World War II

In Eureka, both the timber industry and commercial fishing declined after the Second World War.

The timber economy of Eureka is part of the Pacific Northwest timber economy which rises and falls with boom and bust economic times.[43]

The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 downed trees and flooded the domestic timber market. A log export trade began to remove this surplus material. After 1962, log trade with Japan and other Pacific Rim nations increased.[43] Despite many rumors to the contrary, little of this wood returned to U.S. markets.[43] In 1989, the U.S. changed log export laws permitting lower cost timber from public lands to be exported as raw logs overseas to help balance the federal budget.[44]

After 1990, the global log market declined and exports fell at the same time as Pacific Northwest log prices increased; leading buyers to seek less expensive logs from Canada and the southern United States.[43] However, debate continues between four stakeholders: timber owners, domestic processors, consumers and communities on the impact of log export on the local economy.[43][45]

During the span 1991 to 2001, timber harvest peaked in 1997.[46] The local timber market was also affected by the Pacific Lumber Company hostile takeover[47] and ultimate bankruptcy.[48]

Local fisheries expanded through the 1970s and early 1980s. During the 1970s Eureka fishermen, landed more than half of fish and shellfish produced and consumed in California.[49] In 2010 between 100 and 120 commercial fishing vessels listed Eureka as homeport.[49] The highest landings of all species were 36.9 million pounds in 1981 while the lowest were in 2001 with 9.4 million pounds.[49] Species composition changes during this time with groundfish going down and whiting and crab catches increasing.[49]

After 1990 regulatory, economic and other events led to a contraction of the local commercial fleet.[49] In 1991, the Woodley Island marina opened, providing docking facilities for much of Eureka's commercial and recreational fleet.[49] Many species are considered to be overfished.[49] Recreational fishing has increased over time. Fifty percent of recreational fishermen using local boats are tourists from outside the area.[49]

Commercial Pacific oyster aquaculture in Humboldt Bay produced an average of 7,600,000 pounds (3,400,000 kg) of oysters from 1956 to 1965[49] an average of 844,444 pounds (383,033 kg) per year. In 2004, only 600,000 pounds (270,000 kg) were harvested.[49] Oysters and oyster seed continue to be exported from Humboldt Bay.[49] The value of the oysters and spawn is more than $6 million a year.[49] Consolidation of buyers and landing facilities resulted in local vulnerability to unexpected events, leading the City to obtain grant funding for and complete the Fishermen's Terminal on the waterfront which will provide fish handling, marketing, and public spaces.[49]

Historical seismicity.[50]

Significant earthquakes

The area regularly experiences large earthquakes.[50] On January 9, 2010, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred about 33 miles (53 km) off shore from Eureka.[51] After two seconds, it became a violent "jumper", making objects fly;[52] the mostly vertical shocks from the ground led to broken windows in shops, overturned shelving in homes and stores, and damage to architectural detail on a number of historic buildings.[51][53] Local hospitals treated mostly minor related injuries and electrical power was out over a large area. Numerous natural gas leaks occurred, but no fires resulted.[52][54] This was the largest recent earthquake since the April 25–26, 1992 sequence.[55] It was followed on February 4, 2010, by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake which struck at 12:20 pm (local time) about 35 miles (56 km) northwest of the community of Petrolia and nearly 50 miles (80 km) west of Eureka. The shaking was felt within a 150-mile (240 km) radius, as far north as southern Oregon and as far south as Sonoma County.[55][56] The largest recorded in the area was the 7.2 Mw event on November 8, 1980.[57][58]


Eureka is located at 40°47′24″N 124°9′46″W / 40.79000°N 124.16278°W / 40.79000; -124.16278 (40.790022, −124.162752).[19]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.5 square miles (38 km2), of which 9.4 square miles (24 km2) of it is land and 5.1 square miles (13 km2) or 35.07% of it is water.

Eureka is situated within California's Redwood Empire region which includes Pacific Ocean coast, Humboldt Bay, and several rivers in addition to Redwood National and State Parks and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The location of Eureka on U.S. 101 is 283 miles (455 km) north of San Francisco and 315 mi (507 km)) north and west of Sacramento. Eureka is the closest city to the most central point of the United States' Pacific Coastline.

Eureka's port facilities – the Port of Humboldt Bay – is the largest protected deep-water port between San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound.

The city marina is on one of three islands at a narrow point on the 13 miles (21 km) long bay and increases in elevation slightly as it spreads north, south, and especially to the east. This city of mostly one and two story wooden structures (fewer than ten buildings over five stories) gently encroaches at least two miles (3.2 km) eastward into primarily Redwood and Douglas-fir second growth forests. The city has a traditional grid that generally radiates toward the points of the compass, though a correction to more accuracy in relation to the compass just east of the older downtown and residential area is noticeable. Most post-1970 houses were built in formerly clearcut forested areas.

The transition between the official city limits and smaller unincorporated areas described in the demographic section is mostly not discernible. The most recently developed eastern areas include secluded developments on a golf course among or in close proximity to extensive second growth forest. The city then gives way to hills and mountains of the rugged coast range, which quickly exceed 2,000 feet (610 m) in elevation.


Eureka has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). Due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean, its temperatures resemble those of an oceanic climate. Winters are mild and rainy, and summers cool and dry. The average August high temperature of 64.3 °F (17.9 °C) is very cool for an area at such a southerly latitude. The seasonal temperature variation is very small; the difference between the August average of 58.5 °F (14.7 °C) and the December average of 47.8 °F (8.8 °C) is only 10.7 °F (5.9 °C), about equal to the temperature difference between day and night. The all-time highest and lowest temperatures recorded in Eureka are 87 °F (31 °C) on October 26, 1993, and 20 °F (−7 °C) on January 14, 1888, respectively. Temperatures occasionally drop to freezing or below. NOAA's weather station averages indicate only 0.18 inches (4.6 mm) of rainfall in July, which is well within the Mediterranean range, only with cooler air than a typical Mediterranean climate.

The area experiences coastal fog throughout the year, especially during summer when inland temperatures are significantly warmer. This phenomenon and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean keep the city relatively cool while areas a few miles inland may have much higher temperatures, with frequent differences in summer and early fall of 30-40 degrees.

Annual precipitation averages 38.1 inches (968 mm). Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 119 days each year. The wettest year was 1983 with 67.21 inches (1,707 mm) and the driest year was 1976 with 21.71 inches (551 mm). The greatest monthly precipitation was 23.21 inches (590 mm) in December 2002. The greatest 24-hour precipitation was 6.79 inches (172 mm) on December 27, 2002. However, historic "100" year dramatic weather events such as the Christmas Week flood of 1955 and, especially, the Christmas flood of 1964, which severely damaged the region, may not be reflected in records listed herein. Snowfall on the coast happens occasionally, averaging only 0.2 inches (0.51 cm) as of the 1981–2010 normals, but only 5 years during that period had measurable snowfall.[59]

Climate data for Eureka, California (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1886–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 55.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 48.3
Average low °F (°C) 41.1
Record low °F (°C) 20
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.50
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 16.6 14.9 16.2 13.4 9.1 5.8 2.7 3.2 4.4 8.5 15.2 17.5 127.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 140.1 143.7 207.4 253.1 280.5 277.7 273.4 236.5 220.3 175.8 131.3 126.2 2,466
Percent possible sunshine 47 48 56 63 63 62 60 55 59 51 44 44 55
Source: NOAA (sun and relative humidity 1961–1990)[59][60][61]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201527,017[62]−0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[63]
Bookstore in Eureka's Old Town
The Eureka Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1937. It is listed as a Streamline Moderne Theater.

The population of the city was 27,191 at the 2010 census, up from 26,128 at the 2000 census, representing a 4.1% increase, and the population of Greater Eureka[20] was 45,034[13][19] at the 2010 Census, up from 43,452[10] at the 2000 census, representing a 3.6% increase.

According to a report by the City of Eureka, the Greater Eureka area minimally includes the unincorporated adjacent or nearby neighborhoods and Census Defined Populated Areas of Bayview, Cutten, Elk River, Freshwater, Humboldt Hill, Indianola, Myrtletown, Pine Hill, Ridgewood Heights, and Rosewood,[64] all of which have Eureka addresses, postal zip codes and Eureka-specific telephone numbers. The Greater Eureka area makes up the largest urban settlement on the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and Portland.[20] This area is similar to what the US Census officially defines as the Eureka UC (urban cluster), which is a "densely settled core of census tracts and/or census blocks that meet minimum population density requirements, along with adjacent territory containing non-residential urban land uses as well as territory with low population density included to link outlying densely settled territory with the densely settled core" of up to 50,000 in population. The bayside communities of Manila, Samoa, and Fairhaven (all on the Samoa Peninsula), and King Salmon and Fields Landing (both located south of the city), and communities listed above, with the exception of Elk River and Freshwater, are shown to be part of the Eureka Urban Cluster.[65] A 2011 community study performed by the St. Joseph Health System, projects increased growth of 20,000 to occur in the unincorporated communities (outskirts) located adjacent to Eureka. If that forecast is realized, Greater Eureka could achieve a population of at least 65,000, barring any increase within the city limits.[66] Eureka is the largest city of the Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna Micropolitan Area, a construct of the US Census Bureau, which is synonymous with the County of Humboldt.[67]

2000 Census data

As of the census[68] of 2000, there were 26,128 people. The population density was 2,764.5 people per square mile (1,067.5/km²). There were 11,637 housing units at an average density of 1,231.3 per square mile (475.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.5% White, 1.2% Black or African American, 4.2% Native American, 2.6% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 5.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.8% of the population.

There were 10,957 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.8% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.93. In the city the population dispersal was 22.4% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,849, and the median income for a family was $33,438. Males had a median income of $28,706 versus $22,038 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. About 15.8% of families and 23.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.6% of those under the age of 18 and 11.1% of those 65 and older.

2010 Census data

The 2010 United States Census[69] reported that Eureka had a population of 27,191. The population density was 1,881.3 people per square mile (726.4/km²). The racial makeup of Eureka was 21,565 (79.3%) White, 514 (1.9%) African American, 1,011 (3.7%) Native American, 1,153 (4.2%) Asian, 176 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 1,181 (4.3%) from other races, and 1,591 (5.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3,143 persons (11.6%).

The Census reported that 25,308 people (93.1% of the population) lived in households, 1,434 (5.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 449 (1.7%) were institutionalized.

There were 11,150 households, out of which 2,891 (25.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 3,554 (31.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,449 (13.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 710 (6.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,161 (10.4%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 146 (1.3%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,971 households (35.6%) were made up of individuals and 1,183 (10.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27. There were 5,713 families (51.2% of all households); the average family size was 2.93.

The population dispersal was 5,431 people (20.0%) under the age of 18, 3,102 people (11.4%) aged 18 to 24, 8,021 people (29.5%) aged 25 to 44, 7,422 people (27.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 3,215 people (11.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.2 years. For every 100 females there were 106.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.7 males. There were 11,891 housing units at an average density of 822.7 per square mile (317.6/km²), of which 4,829 (43.3%) were owner-occupied, and 6,321 (56.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 3.7%. 11,251 people (41.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 14,057 people (51.7%) lived in rental housing units.


The 1892 Carson Block building in Eureka, which was the largest office building north of San Francisco on the California coast at the time of its construction.

The economic base of the city was originally founded on timber and fishing and supplying gold mining efforts inland. Gold mining diminished quickly in the early years and activities of timber and fishing have also diminished, especially in the latter decades of the twentieth century. Today, the major industries are tourism, timber (in value), and healthcare and services (in number of jobs). Major employers today in Eureka include the following governmental entities: College of the Redwoods, The County of Humboldt, and the Humboldt County Office of Education. In 2006 St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka the largest private employer in Eureka.[70]

The 2000 U.S. Census indicates that 3.7% of the employed civilian population 16 years and over (totaling 20,671) worked in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries. This percentage may not be indicative of the actual number of people in these professions as many are self-employed, especially in the fishing industry. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that 24.9% of the community worked in education, health care, and social services. Another 18.4% were employed by the government, while self-employed workers totaled 11.2% of all workers. The unemployment rate in 2000 was 5.5% compared to the national average of 5.7% (calculated by dividing the unemployed population by the labor force). For the population 16 years and older, 42.7% were not in the labor force, while 57.3% were employed.[71] According to the 2000 U.S. Census, in 1999 the median household income was $25,849 and the per capita income was $16,174. Inhabitants whose income was below poverty level in 1999 were 23.7% of the population. Of the 11,637 housing units in 2000, 94.2% of the housing units were occupied, while 5.8% were vacant. Of the occupied housing units, 46.5% were owner occupied and 53.5% were renter occupied.[72]


Eureka's Historic Old Town: View is to the east on 2nd Street, which was the equivalent of Main St. in the Victorian Era.

Local government

The City of Eureka has a Mayor-Council system of governance. Primary power lies with the five council members, divided up into five wards. The Mayor has the power to appoint, as well as ceremonial duties, though the job includes presiding over council meetings, and meeting visiting dignitaries.[73] Official city business is administered by the Office of the City Manager. The Eureka City Council regularly meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 5:30 pm for closed session, and 6:30 pm for open session. All meetings are open to the public, with the exception of the published closed session portion. Time is allowed during every council meeting for the public to address the council. The meetings are held in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of Eureka City Hall at 531 "K" Street, Eureka.[74]

State and federal government

Eureka is in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Mike McGuire,[7] and the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Wood.[8]

Federally, Eureka is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.[9]



View of southernmost span of Route 255 "Samoa Bridge." Woodley Island Marina (on Humboldt Bay), Eureka, is visible in the foreground with northeasterly views of Fickle Hill (Coast Ranges) in the background.



Eureka's full service airport is the Arcata-Eureka Airport, located 15 miles (24 km) north in McKinleyville. This airport has two airlines, United and PenAir, and connects to both San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. Murray Field and Eureka Municipal Airport are general aviation airports for private and charter air service. Both are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay either at the edge of Eureka or just outside the city limits. East-southeast of Downtown Eureka by 10 miles (16 km), Kneeland Airport, also a general aviation airport, at 2,737 feet (834 m) elevation, provides an option for pilots choosing to land when the prevalent marine layer is affecting airports nearer sea level.[76]


The Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation & Conservation District manages the resources of Humboldt Bay and its environs, including the deep water port. The port is located directly west of the city and is serviced across the bay in the community of Samoa. In addition to two deep water channel docks for large ships, several modern small craft marinas are available for private use, with a total capacity of more than 400 boats.[77]


Public bus transportation services within Eureka are provided by the Eureka Transit Service. The Redwood Transit System provides bus transportation through Eureka and connects to major towns and places outside the city, including educational institutions. Dial-A-Ride service is available through an application process.

Amtrak provides Thruway Bus service to Eureka at its unstaffed bus stop. The bus service connects passengers from the northernmost coastal train station in Martinez, California and continues to southern Oregon.

Greyhound provides bus service to San Francisco from Eureka. Tickets not purchased online may also be purchased at the nearest full service station in Arcata, CA.


Electricity and natural gas

Eureka residents are served by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Some reserves of natural gas are located south of the city. These and other fuels help power the Humboldt Bay Power Plant (which includes the now defunct and dismantled Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant). The cogeneration plant, completely rebuilt and expanded next to the original site and defunct Nuclear power facility, has all new, state of the art, European designed and built power units which increased the 130 MW total combined capacity production of the old units to 163 MW in late 2010.[78]


The City of Eureka is the largest of the local water districts supplied by the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. The entire region is one of the few places in California that has historically enjoyed a significant surplus of water. The reduction in major forest products manufacturing in recent decades has left the area with a 45 MGD surplus of industrial water.[79]


Eureka is the regional center for healthcare. The city is served by St. Joseph Hospital, which is the largest medical acute care hospital north of the San Francisco Bay Area on the California Coast. The hospital was the first opened by the order in 1920 and was still operated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange in 2016. The facility is composed of two parts: a main campus contains the acute care facility and a nearby second site, the former General Hospital Campus, which contains a rehabilitation facility and a skilled nursing site.

In November 2012, the hospital completed required earthquake safety standards upgrades. The new primary wing contains surgical suites, intensive care, 24-hour emergency care, as well as new and enlarged patient rooms for those requiring care beyond short stay or outpatient procedures, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, surgery centers, and radiology (including MRI) facilities.

In June 2016, The California Attorney General’s office approved merging the St. Joseph Health system and the Providence Health and Services which includes St. Joseph's in Eureka, which becomes part of the third-largest non-profit health system in the nation.[80] The merger raises local and regional concerns about health care.[81]

Eureka is also the site of the only comprehensive private and county operated mental health emergency and hospitalization facilities north of San Francisco within California. Most of the doctors for the many medical specialties available on the far North Coast are located in or near Eureka, which also has the only oncology program and dialysis clinic in the region.


Institutions of higher learning include the College of the Redwoods located on the south edge of the Greater Eureka Area and Humboldt State University, located just eight miles (13 km) north in Arcata. College of the Redwoods manages a downtown satellite campus to augment offerings of the 270-acre (1.1 km2) campus located south of the city.

Eureka City Schools, the largest school district in the region, administers the public schools of the city. Eureka High School receives all students from city grammar schools as well as all those from nearby unincorporated communities. Specific Schools within the 95501 and 95503 zip codes include: Alice Birney Elementary, Grant Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Washington Elementary, Winship Middle School, Zane Middle School, Eureka High School, Humboldt Bay High School, Zoe Barnum High School, the Eureka Adult School, and Winzler Children's Center. The District offices are located in the remodeled Marshall School, which also contains the Marshall Family Resource Center, a site designed to offer programs in support of parents and families.[82]

Offices of the administration of the Superintendent of Humboldt County Schools are located in the Franklin Elementary School site in the city of Eureka. Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) administers the Glen Paul Center in Eureka, which specializes in the education of children with special education needs, from ages 3–22.[83]


The North Coast's primary shopping facility, the Bayshore Mall, is the largest north of the San Francisco Bay Area on the California coast. The mall features over 70 stores, which is anchored by Kohl's, Sears, and Walmart. TJ Maxx opened August 25, 2013, Sports Authority opened November 16, 2013, Ulta opened December 2013. Eureka is the site of the only Costco, Target, and Wal-Mart in the region.

Other major shopping areas and centers include Henderson Center, the Eureka Mall, Burre Center, and Downtown and Old Town Eureka. Major stores not in centers include Target (at the north end) and Kmart (in the south end just north of Pine Hill).

Arts and culture

The Richard Sweasey Theater, originally built in 1920, was refurbished to an earlier era in 2007 [84] and served as home of the Eureka Symphony[85] until it closed in 2013.[86]

Eureka is one of California's historic landmarks. The California State Historical marker, #477, designating Eureka, is located in Old Town, one of the nation's best preserved original Victorian era commercial districts.[87] The city was voted as the No. 1 best small art town in John Villani's book "The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America."[88] Eureka hosts the region's largest monthly cultural and arts event, "Arts' Alive!" on the first Saturday of each month.[89] More than 80 Eureka business and local galleries open their doors to the public.[89] Often local cuisine and beverages accompany live performances by acclaimed regional bands and other types of performance art.[89] The downtown Eureka area is also decorated with many murals.[90]

Theater offerings include year round productions from several various theater groups including the North Coast Repertory Theater and the Eureka Theater. Various events occur throughout the year at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds.[91] Art organizations include the Humboldt State University First Street Gallery, Humboldt Arts Council and the Morris Graves Museum of Art, Redwood Art Association, The Ink People and the Eureka Art and Culture Commission. As a regional center, the city offers lodging, restaurants and shopping areas, including dozens of specialty shops in its historic 19th Century Old Town commercial district[92] and the only large mall in the region.

Annual cultural events

A participant team in the World Championship Kinetic Sculpture Race approaches the Old Town Eureka finish line completing the first day of three of the internationally known event of people powered art!
Note: original brick masonry on 1870s commercial store fronts in the background.

Museums and galleries

Museums include the Clarke Historical Museum, the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, the Morris Graves Museum of Art, HSU First Street Gallery, Discovery Museum for Children, the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park and the Blue Ox Millworks and Historic Park.


The William S. Clarke "cottage", completed in 1888, is an excellent example of a Victorian using many characteristics of Eastlake style architectural detail. The home is a National Historic Landmark.
Milton Carson Home (aka the "Pink Lady"), a Queen Anne style Victorian, completed in 1889, was a wedding gift to the eldest son of William Carson, owner of the stunning Carson Mansion located across the street.

Due to northern isolation and unfavorable economic conditions in the latter part of the twentieth century, much of the post-war redevelopment and urban renewal that other cities experienced did not occur in Eureka. As a result, Eureka has hundreds of examples of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture and historic districts. David Gebhard, Professor of architectural history at University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote that Eureka has the potential of becoming the West Coast Williamsburg. He stated Williamsburg, Virginia preserves an authentic colonial environment; Eureka preserves intact Victorian and early twentieth-century architecture. The extensive array of intact Victorian era and later homes and public buildings include many ornate examples of Colonial Revival, Eastlake, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Stick styles of Victorian architecture. All of these styles are present in the Carson Mansion (pictured above).

A remake of another Newsom and Newsom (builder architects of the Carson Mansion), is the Carter House Inn located only two blocks from the mansion. The original Queen Anne mansion built on these plans was lost in the fire after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Plans were found and the building rebuilt as original. Local craftsman, including the owners of the Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka, have revived the old ways and secrets in building from the bygone era and are in demand in local refurbishment and other projects, including from the White House.

Approximately 16% of the city's structures are cataloged as important historical structures, with many of those attaining the status of state and national significance in terms of a particular structure's importance in relationship to the body of surviving examples of the architectural style attributed to its construction and related detail. Thirteen distinct districts have been identified which meet the criteria for the National Register of Historic Places. Among them are the 2nd Street District (10 buildings), 15th Street district (13 buildings) and the O Street district (43 buildings). Hillsdale Street, a popular and well-preserved district, contains 17 buildings of historic interest. In all, some 1,500 buildings have been recognized as qualifying for the National Register. The Eureka Heritage Society, a local architectural preservation group founded in 1973, has been instrumental in protecting and preserving many of Eureka’s fine Victorians.

Parks and recreation

Sequoia Park Zoo, situated on more than 67 acres (270,000 m2) of mature second-growth Redwood forest, includes Eureka's largest public playground and a duck pond in addition to meticulously kept gardens and examples of the area's many varieties of rhododendron bushes. The City of Eureka Recreation Department manages 13 playgrounds, including Cooper Gulch, which is 33 acres (13 ha), and many ball fields as well as tennis courts and others, including basketball and soccer. Other parks in or near Eureka include the Humboldt Botanical Garden and the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Eureka Marsh, an accessible protected marsh between the Bayshore Mall and Humboldt Bay. There is a modern boardwalk along the city's waterfront and two large marinas capable of mooring over 400 small craft.[107]


Though Eureka has been the base for two major daily newspapers at different times in its 150 years, only the Times-Standard, owned by the Colorado-based Media News Group, survives, printing nearly 20,000 papers a day.[108] This major daily contains original local news and syndicated content on state, national and international news. The Eureka Reporter, founded in 2003, became a daily in 2006. It began publishing only five days a week at the end of 2007 and permanently closed in November 2008.[109] Media News Group also owns a weekly classified advertiser, the Tri-City Weekly. [110]

The North Coast Journal, a regional weekly, moved from Arcata to Eureka in 2009. Eureka is also home to several alternative weekly publications.

Senior Newsis a 24-page monthly newspaper distributed along a 150-mile stretch of the Northwest California coast. Senior News has been published by the Humboldt Senior Resource Center since 1981 telling stories of local seniors and local issues of importance to seniors, their families and caregivers. The small staff is augmented by community volunteer writers and by senior volunteers who distribute 5,000 FREE newspapers to more than 100 locations from Crescent City to Garberville. 8,000 newspapers are distributed into Times-Standard subscriber issues the last Tuesday of each month. Distribution: 13,000

Many of Humboldt County's commercial radio stations are based in Eureka: KINS-FM, KWSW-AM, and KEKA-FM owned and operated by Eureka Broadcasting Co. Inc. KFMI, KRED, KJNY and KATA. Lost Coast Communications owns and operates several stations broadcasting to Eureka: KSLG-FM, KHUM, KXGO, and KWPT. Eureka also hosts KMUE, the local repeater for Redway-based community radio station KMUD. On August 26, 2006 the Blue Ox Millworks launched KKDS-LP, a low power FM station focused on youth and community issues. On November 3, 2008, a low-power part 15 AM radio station, Old Glory Radio 1650 AM based in the Myrtletown neighborhood of Eureka went on the air and airs the area's only daily live local call-in program in the morning. KHSU, the region's local public radio station, is broadcast from Humboldt State University in Arcata.

Notable people

The map shown on the left indicates the location of Duckburg ("Donaldville" in Calisota in French). The Calisota map resembles a map of Northern California (right), with Duckburg corresponding to a coastal area in Humboldt County near the city of Eureka, located on Humboldt Bay.[111]

Sister cities

Country City State / Region Since
Japan Japan Kamisu Ibaraki Prefecture
New Zealand New Zealand Nelson Nelson

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Further reading

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Eureka.
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