Orange County, California is home to some of the oldest cities in the United States. From Anaheim to Laguna Beach, these cities boast a long and storied history that dates back centuries. In the mid-1800s, a man named Spurgeon conducted research in the area and purchased 74 acres of land.
Visionary individuals then crafted cities on the beaches, ranches and farmland of Orange County.
Two lawyers, Alfred Beck Chapman and Andrew Glassell, acquired 1,385 acres of land instead of paying legal fees and transformed it into a city originally called Richland, which was later renamed Orange. The city quickly became a hub for packing and shipping fruits. George Hansen, representing a group of German settlers, bought the land along the Santa Ana River that would become Anaheim. Hansen planted 400,000 grape vines, making the area a major producer of wine and brandy. A century later, Anaheim would come to be known as the home of Disneyland and Mickey Mouse. The fertile soil of northern and central Orange County yielded barley, wheat, grapes, walnuts, oranges and lemons.
Dairy farms flourished in what would become Cypress and La Palma. To the south, Dana Point and Newport Beach became bustling ports. Cattle and sheep roamed the open ranches of the South County interior. In the early 20th century, Huntington Beach landowners discovered oil and movie stars discovered Laguna Beach, first as a filming location and later as a tranquil retreat. Laguna Beach is the second oldest city in Orange County.
During the 1920s, its architectural style of Spanish Colonial Renaissance was iconic for California landscapes. Orange County's real population boom followed World War II. After the war, farmland was replaced by houses in the north, center and west areas of the county, giving rise to the cities of Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and Los Alamitos. Over time, growth spread southward, transforming still-rugged ranches and productive farmland into housing areas in the late 1960s. Old Towne Orange is another one of Orange County's oldest cities. Its outdoor restaurants, specialty boutiques, galleries, theaters and more give it a modern feel with the charm of an old town.
Always bustling with locals, veterans and historians alike, you're sure to run into someone with an interesting story about Old Towne Orange. Orange County is home to some of America's oldest cities with a rich history that spans centuries. From Anaheim to Laguna Beach to Old Towne Orange, these cities have something special to offer visitors from all over.