After an exciting game this morning, we detoured to the Locke Historic District near Sacramento before heading home. This is an unincorporated area built by Chinese immigrants during the early 1900’s. We stopped by the visitor center (also known as the boarding house) and found out the town is named Locke, after George Locke, who owned the land. He leased to the Chinese, at a time when Chinese people were not allowed to own land. All the museums are free and let us roam around. The attractions include besides the visitor’s center: a Chinese language school, a museum, a memorial garden, a gambling hall, a theatre, and a meeting place (even had a round of Chinese chess), all within walking distance. There was a calligraphy lesson in the Chinese school, so we sat down and practiced.
The whole district consisted of 2 main blocks, so it was a nice stroll. Locke is certainly unique with rustic charm and surrounded with “lost in time” feel. Happy we decided the detour for this opportunity to learn about the rich history of Chinese immigrants. It’s definitely worth the visit.
From the website: Locke is the only remaining authentic Chinese village in the United States of America. Although many cities in America have a Chinatown, Locke is the only separate Chinese community that was built by, and exclusively for, Chinese immigrants. Locke was virtually unknown outside of California until a book entitled “Bitter Melon” by Jeff Gillenkirk with photographs by James Motlow was published. At one time, 600 residents, all of whom were Chinese, lived in this three square block community. Now the permanent population of the town is less than 100, and less than a dozen of the residents are Chinese. The origin of the Chinese town of Locke dates back to 1915 when a fire in the neighboring town of Walnut Grove destroyed the city’s Chinatown. Locke was established by Lee Bing, on land owned by George Locke in 1915. There were two sections in the Walnut Grove Chinatown, one of which was populated by Chinese immigrants from Chungshan (中山) and the other by immigrants from Sze Yap in China. The Chungshan group decided to rebuild their community a half mile south of Walnut Grove where there were already three buildings in a tiny hamlet called Lockeport.