About Orange County

Orange is a county in the state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,010,232 making it the third-most populated county in California, the sixth-most populated in the United States, and even more populated than twenty-one U.S. states. Its county seats in Santa Ana. It is the 2nd most populated county in the state, second only to San Francisco County. The county’s four biggest cities, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Huntington Beach each have residents exceeding 200,000. Several of Orange County’s cities touch the Pacific coast, including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and San Clemente.

Orange County counts thirty-four incorporated cities; the newest is Aliso Viejo, incorporated in 2001. Anaheim was the first town, incorporated in 1870 when the area was still part of neighboring Los Angeles County. There is no designated urban center in Orange County. It is mostly suburban except for some traditionally urban areas at the hearts of the older cities of Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Orange, and Santa Ana. There are several edge developments such as Irvine Business Center, South Coast Metro and Newport Center.

The county is known for tourism with attractions like Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and several famous beaches adjacent its more than 40 miles (64 km) of coastline. It is part of the Tech Coast.

Members of the Juaneño, Tongva, and Luiseño Native American groups long occupied the area. After the 1769 voyage of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the region Valle de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the region’s first perpetual European settlement. Amongst those who came with Portolá were José Antonio Yorba and José Manuel Nieto. Both these obtained land grants—Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana and Rancho Los Nietos, respectively. The Nieto ranches, known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Yorba inheritors Teodosio Yorba and Bernardo Yorba were also given Rancho Lomas de Santiago and Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana, respectively. The Mexican government granted other ranchos in Orange County during the Mexican period in Alta California.

A severe drought in the 1860s crushed the regular industry, cattle ranching, and much land came into the ownership of Richard O’Neill, Sr., James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains, attracting immigrants via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads.

This extension led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a different political entity on March 11, 1889. The county is said, owes its name for the citrus fruit to promote immigration by suggesting a tropical paradise–a place where anything could grow.

Other citrus crops, avocados, and oil extraction were also important to the early economy. Orange County profited from the July 4, 1904, completion of the Pacific Electric Railway, a trolley linking Los Angeles with Newport Beach and Santa Ana. The link made Orange County a convenient weekend escape for celebrities of early Hollywood. It was so important that Pacific City replaced its name with Huntington Beach in honor of Henry E. Huntington, chairman of the Pacific Electric and nephew of Collis Huntington. Transport further developed with the conclusion of the State Route and U.S. Route 101 (now mostly Interstate 5) in the 1920s.

Agriculture, such as that comprising the boysenberries made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II. However, the county’s success soared during this time. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom neighborhood for many who settled in Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County got a further lift in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland.

In 1969, Yorba Linda saw Richard Nixon born in Orange County who became the 37th President of the United States.

In the 1980s, Orange County became the second most populated county in California as the population surpassed two million for the first time.

In 1994, an investment fund calamity led to the criminal prosecution of trustee Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk purchases in bonds. The loss was imputed on derivatives by some media news. On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged on June 12, 1996. The Orange County bankruptcy was at that moment, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Recently, land use disputes have arisen between established areas in the north and less developed areas in the south. These conflicts have issues such as the construction of new toll roads and the re-direction of a decommissioned air base. El Toro Marine Corps Air Station was assigned by a voter measure in 1994 to be expanded into an international airport to complement the current John Wayne Airport. However, voter initiatives and court actions caused the airport plan to be permanently suspended. Instead, it became the Orange County Great Park.

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