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101 Things Humboldt County

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Arcata

Home of Cal Poly Humboldt

Arcata

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Many diverse elements contribute to the mix that is the city of Arcata. Founded in 1850 as Union Town, Arcata originally served as a depot and base camp for the gold fields in the Trinity Alps to the east and lumber camps all around. At present, Arcata has an economy that includes education, tourism, the arts, some light manufacturing, a healthy retail base and various service industries. The resident population is a colorful mix of students, senior citizens, artists and various working folk.

With a population of around 17,000, Arcata is a colorful place to spend a few days. Close to beaches, the forest, and home to a marsh bird sanctuary, there are outdoor opportunities everywhere. For those who want to enjoy some nightlife, there are theatre, live music, dancing, numerous taverns and restaurants in town. There are events happening year-round like Arts! Arcata, which is held on the second Friday of each month. Arts! Arcata is an open house for local businesses and artists featuring musical performances, dance, demonstrations and fine arts by Humboldt County artisans.

The city center is Arcata Plaza, see pages 68-69, around which the community turns. Once home to grazing cows and pack animals, today the Plaza serves as the central focus of commercial and festive activities. Several historic buildings around Arcata have been restored. Jacoby's Storehouse, located on the south side of the plaza is one example. It was built by Augustus Jacoby, a prominent local merchant, who saw how quickly wooden buildings turned to tinder. In 1857, he completed his “fireproof storehouse.” Built of locally quarried stone and bricks, with decorative stonework and iron shutters, the building quickly became a source of pride to the whole community. The storehouse, designated a Historical Landmark, is one of the most beautiful restorations on the North Coast. Across the plaza is the iconic Hotel Arcata. The hotel was completely renovated several years ago and is a remarkable example of early hotel design. Arcata is home to the Minor Theatre, the oldest continuously run movie theater in the country. One of the oldest colleges in the California State University system, Cal Poly Humboldt, is located in Arcata and is the second largest employer in Humboldt County.

A great way to spend a summer evening is to watch the Humboldt Crabs summer collegiate baseball team at the Arcata ballpark on 8th and F Streets. The Crabs are perennially one of the top-rated teams in their league, and the ballpark is small and intimate. The Fourth of July celebrations should not be missed in Arcata, as the whole town comes out to party with barbecues, music, food, baseball and other old-fashioned, small-town pleasures.

The California Welcome Center in north Arcata provides information about Humboldt County. Take Hwy 101 2 miles north of downtown Arcata to the Giuntoli exit. The Welcome Center is on the west side of the highway on Heindon Road.

California State Polytechnic Institute - Humboldt

Arcata is the home of Cal Poly Humboldt, one of 23 campuses that comprise the California State University system. The university was founded in 1913 as a teachers college and was called Humboldt Normal School. Today the university's curricula include environmental engineering, forestry, science, business, liberal arts and creative arts. In 2022, was officially designated as California's third Polytechnic Institute, leaving behind it's title of Humboldt State University.

Offering education in a distinctive setting, Cal Poly Humboldt is attractive to college-bound students who are looking for small classes and individual attention from faculty. Typically, the students who attend Humboldt State are from the upper one-third of their high school graduating classes.

Overlooking Humboldt Bay, Cal Poly Humboldt is regarded as an exceptionally beautiful college campus. It is also a cultural hub of the North Coast, sponsoring art exhibits, symphony concerts, dance performances, live theatre and lectures. The campus boasts the largest library facility in California north of San Francisco, a marine laboratory, fish hatchery, wildlife museum, greenhouse, art galleries, performance venues, and more. Cal Poly Humboldt hosts a variety of annual meetings and conferences for professional organizations and clubs from across the country, bringing thousands of visitors to Humboldt County every year. Student-led campus tours are offered beginning in the Student Business Services (SBS) Building, and typically lasting two hours. WHERE: 1 Harpst St., Arcata MORE INFO: 707-826-3011, Humboldt.edu

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