CaliforniaCity Stories

Richmond, CA

The Short Richmond California Ghetto Story

A first hand look and rarely before seen view of the Richmond California ghetto of areas in North Richmond, South Richmond and Central Richmond with the full and true story about an unknown community of the Bay Area.


Richmond CA: Before 1950s

While Richmond has always had a small black population for generations, most came during World War II of the 1940s to work in the shipyards and wartime factories.

Many would experience racism and discrimination during their early years in the city of Richmond, as many envied the newcomers of African-Americans, including the black residents that have been living there generations before.

The community of North Richmond, known to many as the Nolia, was the first community that African-Americans resided and established a community at.

Technically, North Richmond is not in the city of Richmond, instead it is an unincorporated community in Contra Costa County.

Due to its isolation, along with not being part of the actual city of Richmond, the community goes unnoticed and does not receive the proper resources as other areas of Richmond and Contra Costa County.

north richmond ca ghetto

Richmond’s North Side community of today.

North Richmond was always a neglected community, even in the early days before the 1950s when the city of Richmond was expanding and officials refused to incorporate North Richmond into the city of Richmond.

Despite efforts by officials to neglect the community, North Richmond had its moments of a thriving community with a number of black owned businesses during a time where black people were not allow to live or at times visit areas outside of the black community.

Before the days of integration, there was much racial tension in the city where many whites were not welcomed or afraid to go into the black community of North Richmond, while African-Americans would receive even worse treatment outside of their neighborhood.

Outside of North Richmond, many of the African-Americans lived in the housing projects of South Richmond and Central Richmond as temporary housing to be able to work in the wartime industries.

Eventually, many of the housing complexes were demolished after many of the wartime factories were closed following the end of the war.


Richmond CA: 1950s – Present Day

During the 1950s, many African-Americans tried to move into places outside of North Richmond, especially after the city destroyed many of the housing projects that many African-Americans were living in.

central richmond california ghetto

Today’s Central Richmond community.

Places like Central Richmond, communities of the Iron Triangle and Coronado, were some of the first places African-Americans tried to move into, while just north of North Richmond a small black subdivision by the name of Parchester Village was constructed.

With many African-Americans wanting the same resources as the white community, many eventually wanted to live in other areas of the city even as many black families were redlined from living in certain areas.

south richmond ca ghetto

Today’s South Richmond community.

Eventually, areas like the South Richmond around Cutting Blvd. or Central Richmond became the heart of Richmond’s black community, along with the North Richmond community.

In recent years, the Latino population and community in Richmond has been constantly growing, becoming the largest racial group in the city.


Click to see more on Richmond and other California communities.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Corburn, Jason. Healthy City Planning: From Neighbourhood to National Health Equity. Routledge, 2013.

DeBolt, David, and Robert Rogers. “North Richmond: Most Killings Go Unsolved in Tiny Enclave.” The Mercury News, The Mercury News, 12 Aug. 2016,

Erenberg, Lewis A., and Susan E. Hirsch. The War in American Culture: Society and Consciousness during World War II. University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson. To Place Our Deeds: the African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963. University of California Press, 2000.