Locke, California

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Locke, California is a community built in California, USA 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 California California Highway 160.

In 1915, 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 leased, settled and established by Yuehai-speaking Chinese (a subdialect 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 forbid 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 Kuomintang government of China 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.

A Hong Kong-based developer purchased the town in 1977 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 have been 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 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. In addition, it was designated a National historic landmark on December 14, 1990.

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