Photographer Jeremiah Gilbert is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. To see Jeremiah’s portfolio click on any image.
Locke: The Last Chinese Town in California
Locke is about thirty miles south of Sacramento and lays claim to being the only town in the United States constructed solely by the Chinese for the Chinese. Locke was founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the Chinese sector of nearby Walnut Grove. The Chinese who lived in the area decided that it was time to establish a town of their own. They approached landowner George Locke and inquired if they could build on his land and an agreement was reached. By 1920, the town of Locke stood essentially as it appears today.
Levee construction originally brought the Chinese to the area, but by the time Locke was founded, most of the work was farm labor. At its peak, Locke had many businesses that catered to the farm workers and residents of the region. In the 1940’s, restaurants, bakeries, fish markets, gambling halls, boarding houses, brothels, grocery stores, a school and a theatre lined the lively streets of Locke. While the town was once home to 600 residents, today there are around 80 people living in Locke, with the Chinese population down to about 10.
By Jeremiah Gilbert