Orange County, California: A Piece Of US History

Orange County, California is steeped in history. Gaining an understanding of how Orange County increased from 100’s of people to millions who currently reside here is truly fascinating.

The History

The Early Days

The Gabrielios, a Native American tribe, happened to be the 1st known inhabitants of Orange County and were given this name by the Spaniards. It was from here that Juan Pablo Grijalva became the 1st landholder. Juan was one of the Spanish soldiers that arrived with earlier expeditions from Mexico to California. When The Spanish colonial government granted him permission, he built his own ranch in the year 1801. This ranch carried on expanding until the holdings of this family had extended as far as the ocean from the Riverside

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded California to the US. Close to 10 years later the “Rancho” was validated. His entire family carried on living there, which included all his extended family. Yet, there were many changes that were just about to take place.

Leonard Corta, one of the extended family members who was living on this Rancho, borrowed money and then utilized his property on the Rancho as collateral. In the year 1866, he defaulted on the loan, and Abel Stearns went to the Los Angeles Superior Court to file a lawsuit with the aim of trying to obtain Corta’s piece of land. This followed 2 years of attempting to sort through each family member’s section of land, 1,000 units were then parceled to the family members along with Corta.

Andrew Glassell and Alfred Chapman were the lawyers that preceded over this case. These lawyers were already in a process of growing their own investments in purchasing Rancho land. Their payment for their services included land parcels. In total, these 2 lawyers ended up owning around 5,400 acres. This area later became downtown Orange. As this town continued growing, so did industries such as farming. The farmers experimented with various crop types, but none succeeded as expected. The grains were doing fairly well, and later on, tropical fruits were introduced. These crops were not successful, and this is when oranges became the most popular crop.


The railways were starting to make their way into Orange. As these railways started competing against one another, the fares were reduced to very low prices. This drop in price brought about a lot more businesses, which included newspapers and hotels. Libraries were constructed, they started implementing sidewalks, and in the downtown area, they started installing gas streetlights. They also started to beautify the community and the town with the addition of their city park along with a fountain.

This continuation in incorporation brought about electing William Blasdale as the mayor for the City of Orange. People talked about this early incorporation of this town as a method to prevent building saloons. The dislike for saloons resulted in a 1st ordinance against any of the intoxication beverages.

In the 1880s the major increases in incorporation came to an end. The local farmers were still continuing with Orange tree crops, and they were also working with other crops while they waited for these trees to mature. Despite a few natural disasters, which included floods, and record-freezing temperatures, the crops in this city were flourishing. Orange County went onto to produce $12 million in oranges. Orange County was affected later on by more of these natural disasters along with The Great Depression, yet they still managed to make a dramatic comeback.

The Modern Era

The modern-era is a period which would not be complete without World War II. There were many servicemen who were shipped to California for training. When these servicemen returned after the war, they settled in Orange County with their families. This resulted in the 2nd rapid growth of the economy and the population. By the year 2005, the population in this area was over 138,000, after it nearly doubled from 1950 onwards.

George Weimer, the former mayor worked hard to make sure this city remained manageable in association to incorporations and population. He aimed to ensure that jobs were reserved for citizens and the tax-base for this city. The growth of the economy with the new services and businesses was planned purposely. Orange County carried on increasing, where it went onto build an attractive neighborhood along with maintaining a business base that is strong. It was at this time a big town, that maintained small-town values.


Orange County in relation to Southern California is regarded as one of its smallest towns. Bordered to the southwest situated by the Pacific Ocean, and Los Angeles County to the North, and Riverside and San Bernardino County to the Northwest, and San Diego County to the Southeast makes Orange County look even smaller.

Temperature/ Climate

Orange County maintains a comfortable temperature annually of 68 degrees. This area is well-known for maintaining this comfortable temperature throughout the year. The highs often go into the 100’s during the months of summer, while over December, the area reaches record lows of around 29 degrees. The months of rain in Orange County is typically from November through to March, with the peak rain in the month of January.

The micro-climates are very common in Orange County. This includes temperatures which vary by up to 18 degrees between the coast and inland. It also results in overcast or foggy skies when it is morning onto sunny skies by the afternoon.

Economy/ Business

Over the last several decades, the economy in Orange County has evolved and grown. Some of its top employers include the Sisters of St. Joseph Hospital, the University of California, The Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Irvine Medical VCenter, Chapman University, and Orange County Transportation Authority.

The unemployment rates in Orange County is under the National average, while the job markets have experienced an increase that is steady. Even though tax rates in this area are higher in comparison to the overall National average, it is also what contributes to the continuous growth of the economy. The approximate average income is $81.837 for median household incomes. The poverty rate is 11%, with around 1.59 million employees based in Orange County. Employee and household income rates continue to increase for this county.


Orange County, currently has a population of more than 3 million, it contains various racial makeups. Around 56% of the residents are white, 1.8% are African American, 0.3% are Pacific Islander, 0.6% Native American, 20% Asian, while 14.5% make up other races, while 4.2% are mixed with one or two races. Latino or Hispanic descent from any races make up about 33.7%. These statistics are according to the United States Census report in 2010. Even though the race that is dominant is white, the Asian race over the last few years has increased significantly. All these races are in similar ranges to the statistics for the state of California.