Eureka, California

Eureka (Hupa: do'-wi-lotl-ding,[17] Karuk: uuth[18]) 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.[19] At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,191,[20][21][22] and the population of Greater Eureka[23][24] was 45,034.[14]

Eureka, California
City of Eureka
Aerial view: Eureka on Humboldt Bay

Eureka! (I have found it!)[1]
Location within Humboldt County
Location within California
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 40°48′07″N 124°09′49″W[2]
Country United States
State California
FoundedMay 13, 1850
Incorporated (town)April 18, 1856[3]
Re-incorporated (city)February 19, 1874
  MayorSusan Seaman[5]
  City managerGreg Sparks[6]
  State senatorMike McGuire (D)[7]
  AssemblymemberJim Wood (D)[8]
  U. S. rep.Jared Huffman (D)[9]
  City14.45 sq mi (37.43 km2)
  Land9.38 sq mi (24.30 km2)
  Water5.07 sq mi (13.13 km2)  35.07%
18.498 sq mi (47.908 km2)
Elevation39 ft (12 m)
  Density2,901.32/sq mi (1,120.19/km2)
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
  Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes[15]
95501–95503, 95534
Area code707
FIPS code06-23042
GNIS feature IDs277605, 2410463
Reference no.477

Eureka is the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon,[25] and the westernmost city of more than 25,000 residents in the 48 contiguous states.[26][27] 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).[26] 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.[28] Eureka is home to California's oldest zoo, the Sequoia Park Zoo.[29]


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

The Wiyot people lived in Jaroujiji (Wiyot: "where you sit and rest"), now known as Eureka, for thousands of years before European arrival. They are the farthest-southwest people whose language has Algic 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.[30] 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.[31]

Founding on Humboldt Bay

For nearly 300 years after 1579, European exploration of the coast of what would become northern California repeatedly missed definitively locating Humboldt Bay because of 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.[32] The timing of this discovery led to the May 13, 1850, founding of the settlement of Eureka on its shore by the Union and Mendocino Exploring (development) companies.[33]

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.[28]

"Eureka" received its name from a Greek word meaning "I have found it!"[34][35][36] 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.[37]

Wiyot Massacre

The first Europeans venturing into Humboldt Bay encountered the indigenous Wiyot. 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 U.S. Government and military officials to assist the native peoples or at least maintain peace. Fort Humboldt was established on January 30, 1853, by the U.S. Army as a buffer between Native Americans, gold-seekers and settlers, commanded by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Buchanan of the U.S. 4th Infantry Regiment.[38] 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.[33] Major Gabriel J. Rains, Commanding Officer of Fort Humboldt at the time, reported to his commanding officer that a local group of vigilantes had resolved to "kill every peaceable Indian – man, woman, and child."[39]

Lumber industry

Eureka's first post office opened in 1853[40] just as the town began to carve its grid plan 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.[33] 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.[33] 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.[41] 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 because of its location 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 remained 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

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 and 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.[42] 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

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[43] 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[41]

Chinese expulsion

Rising emigration from China in the late 19th century sparked conflict between white settlers and immigrants, which ultimately led to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Economic downturns resulting in competition for jobs led to violent actions against Chinese immigrants, especially on the Pacific coast. In February 1885, the racial tension in Eureka intensified 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.[44]

Among those who guarded the city jail during the height of the sinophobic tension was James Gillett, who went on to become Governor of California.[45] The anti-Chinese ordinance was repealed in 1959.[44][46]

Queen City of the Ultimate West

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. As a 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.[47] 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.[28]

Post-World War II

The timber economy of Eureka is part of the Pacific Northwest timber economy which rises and falls with boom and bust economic times.[48] In Eureka, both the timber industry and commercial fishing declined after the Second World War.[49]

The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 downed trees and caused a surplus in the domestic timber market, which caused increased shipping to foreign markets. The log trade with Japan and other Pacific Rim nations increased.[48] Despite many rumors to the contrary, little of this wood returned to U.S. markets.[48] 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.[50]

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.[48] However, debate continues between four stakeholders: timber owners, domestic processors, consumers and communities on the impact of log export on the local economy.[48][51] During the span 1991 to 2001, timber harvest peaked in 1997.[52] The local timber market was also affected by the Pacific Lumber Company hostile takeover[53] and ultimate bankruptcy.[54]

Local fisheries expanded through the 1970s and early 1980s. During the 1970s, Eureka fishermen landed more than half of the fish and shellfish produced and consumed in California.[55] In 2010 between 100 and 120 commercial fishing vessels listed Eureka as homeport.[55] The highest landings of all species were 36.9 million pounds (16.7 million kg) in 1981 while the lowest were in 2001 with 9.4 million pounds (4.3 million kg.[55]

After 1990 regulatory, economic, and other events led to a contraction of the local commercial fleet.[55] In 1991, the Woodley Island marina opened, providing docking facilities for much of Eureka's commercial and recreational fleet.[55] Many species are considered to be overfished.[55] Recreational fishing has increased over time. Fifty percent of recreational fishermen using local boats are tourists from outside the area.[55]

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[55] an average of 844,444 pounds (383,033 kg) per year. In 2004, only 600,000 pounds (270,000 kg) were harvested.[55] Oysters and oyster seed continue to be exported from Humboldt Bay.[55] The value of the oysters and spawn is more than $6 million per year.[55] 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.[55]

Significant earthquakes

The area regularly experiences large earthquakes as it is situated on the southern end the Cascadia subduction zone and near the San Andreas Fault, which interface around the Mendocino Triple Junction.[56] On January 9, 2010, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred about 33 miles (53 km) off shore from Eureka.[57] After two seconds, it became a violent "jumper", making objects fly;[58] 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.[57][59] 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.[58][60] This was the largest recent earthquake since the April 25–26, 1992 sequence.[61] It was followed on February 4, 2010, by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake which struck 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.[61][62] The largest recorded in the area was the 7.2 Mw event on November 8, 1980.[63][64] The larger earthquakes can pose a tsunami threat to coastal areas.[65]


Eureka is located at 40°47′24″N 124°9′46″W (40.790022, −124.162752).[20]

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) is land and 5.1 square miles (13 km2) or 35.07% 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)) northwest of Sacramento.

The city marina is on one of three islands at a narrow point on the 13-mile-long (21 km) bay and increases in elevation slightly as it spreads north, south, and especially to the east. The city 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. Most post-1970 houses were built in formerly clear cut forested areas.

The transition between the official city limits and smaller unincorporated areas is mostly not discernible. Eastern areas including secluded developments on a golf course among or in close proximity to extensive second-growth forest have more recently developed. These new houses were built as a result of the Eureka Community Plan of 1995 in attempt to bring locals close to centers of recreation and encourage community interaction.[66] 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 enjoys a mild, temperate cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). Due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean, its temperatures are cooler than those of a typical Mediterranean climate. Winters are mild and rainy, and summers mild, cool, and dry. The average high in December, the coolest month, is 55.0 °F (12.8 °C), while the average high temperature in August, the warmest month, is 64.3 °F (17.9 °C), which is very cool and mild 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. In addition, Eureka has a very short and milder range of temperatures compared to most of the contiguous US, with the all-time highest and lowest temperatures recorded in Eureka being only 87 °F (30.6 °C) on October 26, 1993, and September 2, 2017,[67] and 20 °F (−6.7 °C) on January 14, 1888, respectively. On average, the highest temperature seen throughout the entire year is only 79 °F (26 °C), one of the mildest in the contiguous US, while on average the lowest temperature seen in the year (most often occurring at night) is only a similarly moderate 29 °F (−2 °C), yielding a very short and mild temperature range of about 50 °F (28 °C) throughout the year. Additionally, Eureka remains the only city on the West Coast of the continental United States to have never recorded a temperature of 90 °F (32 °C). Temperatures drop to freezing or below only on a few nights per year, and daytime temperatures for these days are typically mild temperatures ranging between 43 °F (6 °C) and 58 °F (14 °C). 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 and milder air than a typical Mediterranean climate.

The area experiences coastal fog throughout the year, especially during summer on the coast when temperatures in the city remain consistently around a mild 64 °F (18 °C). This phenomenon and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean keep Eureka relatively cool and mild, while contrasting with inland areas even just a few miles outside of Eureka, which are prone to extreme temperatures that often exceed 100 °F (38 °C), causing frequent temperature differences between Eureka and inland areas during summer and early fall of 30 to 40 °F (17 to 22 °C). Despite the common coastal fog, Eureka enjoys on average about 55% possible sunshine per year, about on par with cities such as Calgary; Portland, Oregon; New York City; and Chicago.[68][69][70][71]

Annual precipitation averages 40.3 inches or 1,024 millimetres. Measurable precipitation falls on an average of 127.5 days each year, concentrated heavily from October to April. On average, December is the wettest month, averaging over 8 inches of precipitation, virtually all of it rain. The wettest "rain year" was from July 1889 to June 1890 with 73.30 inches (1,861.8 mm) and the driest from July 1976 to June 1977 with 17.56 inches (446.0 mm). The greatest monthly precipitation was 23.21 inches (589.5 mm) in December 2002. The greatest 24-hour precipitation was 6.79 inches (172.5 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 only on rare occasions, averaging 0.2 inches or 0.51 centimetres as of the 1981–2010 normals, but only five years during that period received measurable snowfall.[72] The most snowfall in one month was 6.9 inches or 18 centimetres in January 1907.

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
Mean maximum °F (°C) 64.6
Average high °F (°C) 55.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 48.3
Average low °F (°C) 41.1
Mean minimum °F (°C) 31.4
Record low °F (°C) 20
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.50
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0
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)[72][73][74]


Historical population
Est. 201826,998[12]−0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[75]

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[23] was 45,034[14][20] at the 2010 Census, up from 43,452[76] 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,[77] 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.[23] This area is similar to what the U.S. 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.[78] 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.[79] Eureka is the largest city of the Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna Micropolitan Area, a construct of the U.S. Census Bureau, which is synonymous with the County of Humboldt.[80]

2000 Census data

As of the census[81] 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 people 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[82] 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 people 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 11,150 were occupied, 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 economic base of the city was 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. St. Joseph Hospital is the largest private employer in Eureka.[83]


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.[84] 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. Open sessions are open to the public.[85]

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]




U.S. Route 101 is the major north and south highway, which connects Eureka to the rest of the North Coast region. The highway connects to Oregon, located approximately 100 miles (160 km) to the north, and San Francisco, over 250 miles (400 km) to the south. The highway follows city streets through the city, with flow and cross-traffic controlled by traffic signals. Highway 101 enters Eureka from the south as Broadway. As it reaches the downtown area, it splits into a one-way couplet composed of 4th Street and 5th Street. On the north side of the city, northbound and southbound rejoin at the northeast side before the highway becomes a restricted (safety corridor) expressway (to Arcata and points beyond) as double bridges cross the Eureka Slough (mouth of the Freshwater Creek).[86]

State Route 255 is an alternate route of U.S. 101 between Eureka and the nearby city of Arcata, running along the western shore of Humboldt Bay. It begins in the downtown area at U.S. 101 and proceeds north along R Street towards the Samoa Bridge and the community of Samoa.[86]

State Route 299 (formerly U.S. Route 299) connects to U.S. Route 101 at the northern end of Arcata. Route 299 begins at that point and extends easterly to serve as the major traffic artery to the east for Eureka.[86]


Eureka's full service airport is the Arcata-Eureka Airport, located 15 miles (24 km) north in McKinleyville. This airport has one airline, United Airlines , and connects to San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA. Murray Field and Eureka Municipal Airport are general aviation airports for private and charter air service. Both are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay. Kneeland Airport, at 2,737 feet (834 m) elevation, is a general aviation airport that provides an option for pilots choosing to land when the prevalent marine layer is affecting airports nearer sea level.[87]


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.[88]

Bus service

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 may be purchased online or at the nearest full service station in Arcata.


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 defunct Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant). In 2010, the cogeneration plant increased its capacity from 130 MW to 163 MW.[89]


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.[90] The reduction in major forest products manufacturing in recent decades has left the area with a 45 MGD surplus of industrial water.[91]


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 in 1920 and was operated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange until 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.[92] The merger raises local and regional concerns about health care.[93]

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 and Humboldt State University in Arcata. College of the Redwoods manages a downtown satellite campus as well.

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 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.[94]


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 and Ulta opened in 2013. Other major shopping areas and centers include Henderson Center, the Eureka Mall, Burre Center, and Downtown and Old Town Eureka.

Arts and culture

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.[97] 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."[98] Eureka hosts the region's largest monthly cultural and arts event, "Arts' Alive!" on the first Saturday of each month.[99] More than 80 Eureka business and local galleries open their doors to the public.[99] Often local cuisine and beverages accompany live performances by acclaimed regional bands and other types of performance art.[99] The downtown Eureka area is also decorated with many murals.[100]

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.[101] 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.

Annual cultural events

  • Redwood Coast Music Festival – May[102]
  • Perilous Plunge – March[103]
  • Rhododendron Festival – April[104]
  • Kinetic sculpture race – May
  • Redwood Acres Fair and Rodeo – June[105]
  • Humboldt Wood Fair – June[106]
  • Summer Concert Series on the Boardwalk – June – August[107]
  • Fourth of July Celebration – July[108]
  • Humboldt Bay Full of Blues – August 30 & 31, 2014[109]
  • Chicken Wingfest – September[110]
  • Excalibur Medieval Tournament and Market Faire – September[111]
  • Pride Parade and Celebration – September[112]
  • Humboldt Bay Paddle Fest – September[113]
  • Craftsman's Days – November[114]
  • Christmas Truckers Parade – December[115]

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.


Because of 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.

The original Queen Anne-style Murphy home in San Francisco was completely destroyed by the fire resulting from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.[116] Mark Carter found the blueprints for the home in an antique store and rebuilt the structure, but in Eureka; it is now the Carter House Inn.[117]

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.[118]


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. Media News Group also owns a weekly classified advertiser, the Tri-City Weekly.[119] The Eureka Reporter, founded in 2003, became a daily in 2006, began publishing five days per week at the end of 2007, and permanently closed in November 2008.[120] The Times-Standard printing nearly 20,000 papers per day as of 2004,[121] as of 2018 Its distribution was 13,000 and it published online-only on Mondays.[122] The LostCoast Outpost is another web based news source

The North Coast Journal, a regional weekly, moved from Arcata to Eureka in 2009. Eureka is also home to several alternative weekly publications. Senior News[123] is a 24-page monthly newspaper distributed along a 150-mile stretch of the Northwest California coast, published by the Humboldt Senior Resource Center since 1981. 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.

Many of Humboldt County's commercial radio stations are based in Eureka: KINS-FM,[124] KWSW-AM,[125] and KEKA-FM,[126] 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, KLGE, 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,[127] based in the Myrtletown neighborhood of Eureka went on the air; it offers 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. 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.[128]
  • Disney characters Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Daisy Duck, and most of their supporting cast live in the fictional city of Duckburg, first mentioned in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #49 in 1944, created by Carl Barks,[129] where Duckburg is described as a medium size city located in the fictional U.S. state of Calisota. Don Rosa, a subsequent cartoonist of Donald Duck, described his placement of the imaginary town: "I won't bother to say precisely where I situated Duckburg and Calisota on America's west coast... but if you get out a good map and compare the coastline, you'll see that I stuck the old gold-prospector's adopted hometown directly across the bay from a very appropriately named actual city."[128]
  • In the 1977 film Heroes, starring Henry Winkler and Sally Field, the plot revolves around Winkler's character trying to get to Eureka, California to start a worm farm. While the film depicts scenes supposedly in Eureka, the actual shooting location was elsewhere.
  • In season 3 of "Lost" the episode "Further Instructions": main character John Locke encounters a hitchhiker in a flashback while driving through a vigorous rainstorm. The hitchhiker informs John that he is looking for timber work in Eureka.

Sister cities

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

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Further reading

  • Ray Raphael; Freeman House (January 1, 2007). Two Peoples, One Place. Humboldt County Historical Society for the Writing Humboldt History Project. ISBN 978-1-883254-01-8. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
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