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Locke Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark District
The main street of Locke, in 2006, has some Chinese shops among habitations.
Locke, California is located in California
Location: Bounded on the W by the Sacramento River, on the N by Locke Rd., on the E by Alley St., and on the S by Levee St., Locke, California
Coordinates: 38°15′2″N 121°30′34″W / 38.25056°N 121.50944°W / 38.25056; -121.50944Coordinates: 38°15′2″N 121°30′34″W / 38.25056°N 121.50944°W / 38.25056; -121.50944
Area: 14 acres
Built/Founded: 1915
Architectural style(s): Gothic, Other
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: May 06, 1971[1]
Designated NHLD: December 14, 1990[2]
NRHP Reference#: 71000174

Locke (Chinese: 樂居), also known as Locke Historic District, is an unincorporated community in California built by Chinese immigrants during the early 20th century. It was originally named Lockeport after George Locke, a local land owner. It is located in the primarily agricultural region south of Sacramento, California, near State Route 160. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and further was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1990 due to its unique example of a historic Chinese American rural community.[2]



The ZIP Code is 95690, and the community is inside area code 916.

The official US Geological Survey, National Geographic Names Database (NGND) ID 1656136. The NAD83 latitude and longitude listed in NGND is 38°15′02″N 121°30′34″W / 38.25056°N 121.50944°W / 38.25056; -121.50944.


In 1913, the Chinatown of nearby Walnut Grove was destroyed and burned after an accidental fire thus causing a migration of Chinese into neighboring areas. Afterwards, the town of Locke was settled and established by a group, headed by Lee Bing., of Chinese/American Businessmen Yuehai-speaking Chinese (a dialect of Cantonese) from the Zhongshan region of Guangdong province in China. Differing in some respects from the predominant Toisanese Chinese-speakers in practice, they created a town of their own. The land was leased from George Locke as California law at the time forbade the selling of farmland to Asian immigrants. Many Chinese immigrants were facing massive discrimination in the major cities. It is a town built completely "by the Chinese for the Chinese" and can be considered a distinct rural Chinatown enclave. Like many other Chinatowns, it had a Chinese-language school, general stores, and restaurants. Because of its relatively large population of Chinese people at the time, the Chinese Kuomintang political party once had a local chapter in Locke.

Ironically, however, the current population of Locke is predominantly white and the population of Chinese Americans (i.e., descendants of the town's original settlers) is 10. During the 1940s and 1950s, many of Locke's Chinese Americans, many of whom received better education, began joining the American mainstream by moving out of rural Locke and into the burgeoning suburbs of the major cities.

The Locke Historic District bounded on the west by the Sacramento River, on the north by Locke Rd., on the east by Alley St., and on the south by Levee St. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1971.[1]

A Hong Kong-based developer purchased the town in 1977 from the Locke Heirs and sold it in 2002 to the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. In 2004, the agency finally allowed the sale of land to those who had been living on it for many years. There were plans to convert Locke into a housing development and tourist attraction. Plans are under way to use state and federal grant money to convert the boarding house (now owned by the California Department of State Parks) into a museum.

The Locke Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 14, 1990.[2][3]


In the state legislature Locke is located in the 5th Senate District, represented by Democrat Michael Machado, and in the 15th Assembly District, represented by Republican Guy S. Houston. Federally, Locke is located in California's 10th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +9 [4] and is represented by Democrat John Garamendi.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01 -23.  
  2. ^ a b c "Locke Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  3. ^ James H. Charleton (June 21, 1990) (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Registration: Locke / Locke Historic District, National Park Service,, retrieved 2009-06-22   (includes map) and Accompanying photos, exterior and interior, from 19.PDF (1.14 MB)
  4. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  

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