Crescent City (Chetco-Tolowa: Taa-’at-dvn, Yurok: Kohpey, Wiyot: Daluwagh ) is the county seat and only incorporated city in Del Norte County, California. Named for the crescent-shaped stretch of sandy beach south of the city, Crescent City had a total population of 7,643 in the 2010 census, up from 4,006 in the 2000 census. The population includes inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison, also within the city limits, and the former census-designated place Crescent City North annexed to the city. The city is also the site of the Redwood National Park headquarters, as well as the historic Battery Point Light. Due to the richness of the local Pacific Ocean waters and the related catch, and ease of access, Crescent City Harbor serves as home port for numerous commercial fishing vessels.
The city is located on the Pacific coast in the upper northwestern part of California, about 20 miles (32 km) from the Oregon border. Crescent City's offshore geography makes it unusually susceptible to tsunamis. Much of the city was destroyed by four tsunami waves generated by the Good Friday Earthquake off Anchorage, Alaska in 1964. More recently, the city's harbor suffered extensive damage and destruction due to tsunamis generated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake off Sendai, Japan. Several dozen vessels and many of the docks they were moored to were destroyed as wave cycles related to the tsunamis exceeded 8 feet (2.4 m).
The area that is now known as Del Norte County was and still is inhabited by the Yurok (Klamath River Indians) and Tolowa Nations of indigenous peoples. The first European American to explore this land was pioneer Jedediah Smith in the early 19th century. He was the first European American to reach the area overland on foot in a time before the European Americans knew anything about such a distant territory. For him it was literally "Land's End" — where the American continent ended at the Pacific Ocean. In 1855 Congress authorized the building of a lighthouse at "the battery point" (a high tide island on the coast of Crescent City) which is still functioning as a historical landmark.
European explorers first visited the area now known as Crescent City by ship in the late-1820s.Europeans began moving to the area in the 1850s. Crescent City was incorporated as a city in 1854.