Arcata is a city, adjacent to Humboldt Bay, in Humboldt County, California, United States. The population was 16,651 during the 2000 Census. This quirky and socially progressive college town is home to both the Humboldt State University and the Humboldt Crabs, a successful semi-professional baseball team.
In an exercise of their growing political power, progressives pushed through laws in Arcata to limit the number of chain restaurants allowed in the city. Residents hotly debate major issues, including protection of the physical environment, the domination of America by corporate culture, legalization of marijuana, and the statue of President William McKinley that is located in Arcata's downtown plaza. Arcata was the first city in the nation to pass a resolution purporting to nullify the USA PATRIOT Act in said city . The legality of the resolution has not yet been tested. Arcata was also the first municipality to ban the growth of any type of Genetically Modified Organism within city limits, with exceptions for research and educational purposes.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 16,651 people, 7,051 households, and 2,813 families residing in the city. The population density was 699.6/km² (1,812.1/mi²). There were 7,272 housing units at an average density of 305.5/km² (791.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.51% White, 1.56% Black or African American, 2.65% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 3.49% from other races, and 5.31% from two or more races. 7.22% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Hispanics are a rapidly growing ethnic subgroup in Arcata and Humboldt County.
The composition of Arcata's households reflect the large number of unrelated college-age students living together. Of the 7,051 households in Arcata, only 19.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, only 25.9% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, while a whopping 60.1% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.81.
Arcata's age cohorts are also distorted by a large percentage of college-age students. Only 15.3% of Arcata residents are under the age of 18, while nearly a third (32.3%) fall between ages 18 and 24, and 27.8% are 25 to 44 years old. Among older age cohorts, 15.9% are 45 to 64 years old, and 8.7% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 99.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.
As of 2002, there were 8,210 employed persons living in Arcata  and an unemployment rate of 7.2%. For many years the timber industry dominated Arcata's economy. Today the majority of Arcata jobs come from government (including schools and Humboldt State University), the city's many owner-resident small businesses, some lumber and food manufacturing, and a wide variety of service industries (ranging from professional services to restaurant and hospitality). A large but unmeasurable cannabis economy employs many in Arcata and the surrounding area. The area's economy and population are both growing more slowly than the State of California overall.
Median reported household income in Arcata was $22,315, and the median income for a family was $36,716. Males had a median income of $26,577 versus $24,358 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,531. About 14.3% of families and 32.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.
Arcata is a prominent stop along the old West Coast hippie trail connecting Eugene, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, California. Today's itinerant young nomads represent a spinoff or mutation of the deadhead phenomenon associated with the Grateful Dead. For some it may be a temporary experience in low-cost cannabis-related tourism, while others may be driven by addictions, mental illness, or abuse at home. This is a relatively homogeneously white subculture. Arcata is a popular stop, and hosts a higher-than-average share of these young vagrants, perhaps due to Arcata's tolerant culture and easy access to cannabis. Many of these nomads temporarily reside in illegal crash pads within old redwood stumps in the Arcata Community Forest, located only a short walk from the Arcata Plaza and the Food Endeavor . Aggressive panhandling by able-bodied young hobos is a part of daily life in Arcata, and community members have coined the colloquial term "plazoid" or "spanger" for them because of their concentration in Arcata's central Plaza and their frequent requests for spare change. Plazoids simultaneously denounce and demand support from "babylon," also known as mainstream working America. Many older residents find the Arcata Plaza to be an uncomfortable place to visit due to the ever-present plazoids. Certain plazoids voluntarily adopt a homeless, panhandling lifestyle as a social or political statement, which undermines some of their support. Nevertheless, college students from Humboldt State University are some of the most generous supporters of plazoids.
Arcata also features a large number of original Victorian structures, many of which have been lovingly restored, and is home to one of the three oldest movies-only theaters in the United States which is still in operation (the Minor theater of Arcata). For its size, the city has many bookstores, coffeehouses, restaurants, galleries and music venues, yet remarkably few bars.
The Wiyot People and Yurok People lived in this area prior to Russian and European arrival. "Kori" is the name for the Wiyot settlement that existed on the site of what would become Arcata. The natives of this region are the farthest-southwest people whose language has Algonquian roots. The traditional homeland of the Wiyot ranged from Mad River in the north and continues through Humboldt Bay (including the present cities of Eureka and Arcata) and then south to the lower Eel River basin. The traditional homeland of the Yurok ranges from Mad River to beyond the Klamath River in the north. Due to several factors, including the effects of disease, loss of traditional sources of food, and attempted genocide against the Wiyot people, their population was reduced to less than 5% of pre-European numbers. See the article on the Wiyot people for more on their history in the region. The Yurok managed slightly better. Both cultural groups continue to be a part of today's life in Arcata.
Arcata was originally founded as the town of Union (the permanent name change occurred in 1860). Union was created as a port and re-provisioning center for the gold mines in the Klamath/Trinity/Salmon mountains to the east. It was slightly closer to the mines than Eureka, which gave Union an early advantage. What was to become the first significant town on Humboldt Bay began as Union Company employees laid out the plaza and first city streets in the Spring of 1850. By later in the 1850's redwood timber replaced the depleted gold fields as the economic driver for the region, and Eureka became the principal city on the bay, gaining the county seat by the end of the decade. 
In August 1989, the voters of Arcata passed the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Act, prohibiting activities benefiting nuclear weapons contractors within city jurisdictional limits.
On January 4, 2006, the Arcata city council adopted the New Year's Resolution, demanding the impeachment or the resignation of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney for violations of Constitutional and International law, making it the first city to pass such a resolution. This is the second time the City Council has passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.
Arcata is also known for its progressive involvement in environmental politics and environmental activism. As an example, in 1981, Arcata constructed the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Arcata Marsh has multiple uses including recreation, wildlife habitat, education, and wastewater treatment. In 1996 Arcata elected the first-ever Green Party city council majority. This majority was lost two years later, restored in 2004 and lost again in 2006.
U.S. Route 101 extends north and south and bisects the city. The downtown has several overcrossings, Arcata is considered a fairly walkable community. California State Route 299 connects to U.S. Route 101 at the northern end of Arcata. SR-299 begins at this point and extends easterly towards Weaverville, Redding, Alturas, and Nevada.
At times vehicle traffic into and out of Arcata has been restricted or completely blocked in the rainy months, due to landslides or flooding on US 101, SR 299, and SR 36. All the highways connecting Arcata to areas outside Humboldt County reduce to many miles of winding two-lane traversing remote mountains and river canyons. Large modern tractor-trailers cannot negotiate many of these roads, raising the cost of freight shipping in and out of the area. Arcata, Eureka, Fortuna and the Redwood Coast region is one of the most remote locations along the continental US west coast.
Redwood Transit System (RTS) is the major provider of public bus transportation in Humboldt County with several stops in Arcata. Arcata and Mad River Transit Service (AMRTS) is the local bus and serves Arcata and a small surrounding area. Dial-A-Ride service is available from Humboldt Senior Resource Center through an application process.
Transit and longhaul bus services including Amtrak and Greyhound use the Arcata Transit Center as their central interchange point for Arcata.
Arcata is the home of the Arcata Bike Library Program, a non-profit lending library for refurbished bicycles. While there is considerable talk about promoting cycling as a more healthful and sustainable mode of transportation, the city falls short in terms of practical action. Road shoulders are deteriorating and riddled with glass, bike route markers and striping are eroding, potholes go unfilled, and new paving is usually limited to the auto lanes.
The closest airport is the Arcata-Eureka Airport and is located in McKinleyville. This airport was built by the Army Air Corps in World War II in a particularly foggy location, as a site to test fog dispersal techniques. No successful dispersal method appears to have been found, and after demobilization the airfield was given to the County of Humboldt as a civilian airport. Thus this airport is plagued by chronic fog, and countless flights are canceled or diverted to Redding (a 3 hour mountain drive away). Reliable air travel remains a major challenge. Birds (and Alaska Airlines) seem to have no trouble.