Stock Photos of Orange County

A Brief History of Orange County, part 2

The first towns grew up around the Santa Ana river, named by Portola for Saint Anne. Anaheim was founded in 1857 by German settlers (-heim is "home" in German) as a wine producing colony for nearby Los Angeles. The town of Santa Ana got the stagecoach line between L.A. and San Diego; Tustin was founded by Columbus Tustin; Fullerton was named for the railroad manager, George Fullerton, who would decide where to run the railroad; and Orange was named by 1873 probably for the area’s most promising industry. By 1887, the area had enough political clout to secede from Los Angeles County and become Orange County. Today there are 33 cities with the county seat in Santa Ana. Oranges were one of many citrus crops suited to the Meditteranean climate, along with lemons and avocados. Valencia and Navel were the most popular varieties with the first groves started in the 1870s.

Besides agriculture, another industry benefitted from the warm weather: tourism. Starting in 1940, Walter Knott enhanced his berry farm in Buena Park with a ghost town. A complete Old West hotel was relocated from Arizona and an entire steamtrain railroad was moved from Colorado. Meanwhile, Walter Disney had hired the Stanford Research Institute to find the perfect tourist site. Anaheim topped the list and, in 1955, the Magic Kingdom opened as "the happiest place on earth." Fifty years later, Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland Resort are the original theme parks and two of California’s most popular destinations. Today, tourism is a $5 billion industry and has helped make Orange County’s economy equivalent to that of Hong Kong or Portugal. With the fruits of its history, Orange County is ripe for the future.

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Photos and text by Andrew Hudson from his book “A Photo Tour of Orange County.”>
© Photo Tour Books, Inc. 2001–2011. No use permitted without written permission.

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