The Locke Historic District, otherwise called the town of Locke, California, was constructed in 1915 by Chinese immigrants. The historically significant area is situated in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, an extensive agrarian region in Sacramento County, California. The Historic Locke District is the biggest, most entire case of a provincial, agrarian Chinese American people group in the United States.
Before the 1800s, migration from Asia to the U.S. was negligible. Amid the nineteenth century, the U.S. experienced mass migrations from several Asian nations, especially China. Numerous variables set off this vast scale movement. In 1848, gold was found in California and all through the 1850s Chinese were recruited as a noteworthy source of labor for the gold mines. Numerous Chinese likewise moved amid this period to get away from the Taiping Rebellion, a civil war that enveloped the greater part of Southern China. During the 1860s, Chinese were recruited in extensive numbers from both China and the U.S. mining industry to construct the Central Pacific Railroad's portion of the Transcontinental Railroad.
At the time when the railroad was finished in 1869, thousands of Chinese workers, principally from Guangdong Province, were employed to help build the extensive levee project in the California Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Their insight into how to create farmland in river valleys, acquired from farming the Pearl River Delta area in southern China, was utilized to develop a vast system of earthen levees that in the end transformed 500,000 acres of bog into some of California's most valued farm land. The reclaimed land has been able to support large farms, and the development of the pear and asparagus businesses, along with other crops, made a demand for cheap manual labor. A large number of the Chinese workers remained in the area and made a living working as farm laborers and tenant farmers, settling in towns in the locale, for example, Courtland, Isleton, Rio Vista, and Walnut Grove.
Locke was the final Sacramento River Chinatown to be constructed and turned into a flourishing Chinese community serving the area's workforce, which comprised fundamentally of Chinese laborers toiling in the asparagus fields. The town subsequently developed to 14 acres of land, and made up of single and two-story wooden structures. Besides than various houses, Locke had a small Chinese school, a church, hotels and restaurants, a post offices, a lodge, a theater, a fish market, grocery stores, hardware and herb store, two dry goods stores, a dental office, a shoe repair, a bakery shop, and a community vegetable garden. Having no police to oversee the town, bars, gambling houses, and opium dens developed, operating from behind commercial storefronts. By 1920, Locke was a goto location for Prohibition-era speakeasies and was offering recreational facilities to both the agrarian workforce and Caucasians from close-by urban communities. The town population average was around 600 people, however on weekends and amid the agricultural season it rose to 1,500.
Locke started a slow decline in the 1930s amid the end of Prohibition in 1933, the Great Depression and the decline of the asparagus business meant that less individuals went to the town. Moreover, expanded motorization of the agricultural business lessened the requirement for unskilled farm workers. Locke, in the same way as other Delta communities, saw an expansion in prosperity amid World War II, although after the war a large portion of the more youthful second-generation Chinese Americans started to leave the town for the cities, looking for better monetary opportunities.
The Locke family sold the town in 1977 to a Hong Kong development company. In 1952, California's Alien Land Laws had been declared unconstitutional; although, the occupants of Locke never acquired the land upon which their town was constructed. The rest of the occupants kept on leasing the land while various endeavors were made to develop the area. Locke was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990, and in 2002, the town was acquired by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. Working hand in hand with the California State Historic Office of Preservation, The Locke Foundation along with the inhabitants of the town of Locke continue to preserve the numerous unique structures in the architecturally significant area.