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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Crescent City


Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 1720 1
1940 1363 1
1960 2958 0
2000 4006 3138 185 244 441 171

Method of Exclusion

  • Violent Expulsion

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black
  • Asian


“Miners considered the Chinese a pest… The
saloon keepers were opposed to them because the
Chinese had their own methods of gambling and
dissipation, so did not leave any money in the local
“By the late 1870s, the Chinese had a well
established Chinatown in Crescent City.”

An 1881 book on the history of Del Norte
county states: “Of the Chinese population it is not
necessary to say much. We of the Pacific Coast are
too well acquainted with their vile habits, their
thieving ways, and their contaminating influence, to
render a description of the same either interesting
or profitable… [Crescent City] has a Chinese
population of between 40 and 100… It is difficult to
estimate the Chiense population correctly, because
crowded as they are into filthy dens, there is no
means of estimating their number by the number of
houses they inhabit…. As a general rule their
shanties are surrounded by mud, filth, and garbage
of every kind %u2014 fit surroundings for such a
degraded class. And to crown all, the perfumes …
rise up in one grand, overpowering stench.”

In 1885, a Eureka city councilman was
accidently shot and killed by a Chinese-American,
which led to the expulsion of Chinese people from
Eureka. “The next evening a parade was held down
the main street of [Crescent City], with a small band
playing, and citizens marching holding placards
reading ‘The Chinese Must Go.’… It was reported
that a number of eyes could be seen peeking from
the roofs of some of the buildings [in Chinatown].”
The citizens of Crescent City held meetings
the first week of March, 1886, to “remove all
Mongolians from our midst.”

“The exodus began by loading the women and
children and two old men on a wagon with what
bedding they could collect while being pushed and
dragged to the wagons. Their cries and pleas were
unforgettable. They were afraid the men would be
beaten and killed. By the end of the next day most
of the men were with their relatives, except
possibly a half dozen who were permitted to stay
and sell their effects.”

“The Bay Hotel Company had trouble keeping
a crew of four [Chinese workers]. They contracted
in San Francisco with four Japanese to take the job.
Within two weeks they were waited on by a
delegation from the logging camps and told that
Orientals were not permitted to live in Del Norte
County. They left by boat the next day.