The History of Orange County: From Inhabited Land to Tourist Hotspot

On June 4, 1889, residents of the southernmost tip of Los Angeles County went to the polls and voted to form their own county. It was the culmination of two decades of struggles, setbacks and political maneuvers everywhere. Archaeological evidence shows that the area was inhabited for some 9,500 years. At the time of contact with the Europeans, the northern area of what is now Orange County was mainly inhabited by the Tongva, a part of Tovaangar, while the southern area of the county, below Aliso Creek, was mainly inhabited by the Acjachemen.

Both groups lived in villages throughout the area. Large villages were sometimes multi-ethnic and multilingual, such as Genga, located in what is now Newport Beach. The village was shared by the Tongva and the Acjachemen. The primitive economy of Orange County was largely based on citrus crops, avocados and oil extraction. Orange County benefited from the completion of the Pacific Electric Railway, a streetcar that connected Los Angeles to Santa Ana and Newport Beach, on July 4, 1904. The link made Orange County an accessible weekend retreat for celebrities from early Hollywood.

It was considered so important that Pacific City changed its name to Huntington Beach in honor of Henry E. Huntington, president of Pacific Electric and nephew of Collis Huntington. Transportation improved even more with the completion of the State Route and the U. S. Route 101 (now mostly interstate) in the 1920s.

In 1969, Richard Nixon, a native of Orange County, born in Yorba Linda, 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. Orange County is bounded to the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, to the north by Los Angeles County, to the northeast by San Bernardino County, to the east by Riverside County, and to the southeast by San Diego County. The Santa Ana River is the county's main watercourse, flowing through the center of the county from northeast to southwest. Its main tributary to the south and east is Santiago Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek and Horsethief Creek.

In the north, the San Gabriel River also briefly crosses Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the line between Los Angeles and Orange County, between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which form when water rises against an underground fault. Cultural and entertainment facilities include Disneyland Resort, Angel Stadium, Cathedral of Christ (formerly Crystal Cathedral), City National Grove of Anaheim (a live concert hall), Orange County Discovery Cube, Honda Center (home of Anaheim Ducks NHL), and Anaheim Convention Center. Health centers include CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County), Kaiser Permanente Health Pavilion (Anaheim), St. Joseph Hospital (Orange) and ICU Medical Center. Shopping complexes include Anaheim GardenWalk, Anaheim Marketplace (which claims to be largest indoor swap fair in Orange County with more than 200 vendors), MainPlace Mall, Orange Town & Country and The Outlets at Orange (originally a mall called The City which was centerpiece of planned mixed-use development from 1970s with same name).

There is strip-type commercial development that includes large stores along West Chapman Avenue in Orange (Marshalls & Ralphs), along Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove (Burlington & Ross Dress for Less) and around Harbor Blvd. Tourism continues to be vital aspect of Orange County's economy. Anaheim is main tourist center with Disneyland at Disneyland Resort being second most visited theme park in world. In addition Knotts Berry Farm receives about 7 million visitors a year & is located in city of Buena Park. Anaheim Convention Center hosts many important conventions throughout year. Resorts within coastal cities welcome visitors year-round because their proximity to beach, bike trails, mountain hiking trails, golf courses, shops & restaurants.

Area's warm Mediterranean climate & its 42 miles (68 km) of year-round beaches attract millions tourists every year. Huntington Beach is popular spot for sunbathing & surfing; dubbed Surf City USA. The Wedge at tip Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach is one most famous places world for bodysurfing. Southern California's surf culture is prominent in Orange County's beach towns. Another these beach towns is Laguna Beach just south Newport Beach.

Some popular beaches include A Thousand Steps on 9th Street; Main Street Beach; & The Montage. Other local beaches worth visiting include Tablerock Beach & West Street Beach both located South Laguna Beach. Orange County is autonomous county in California; its seat is Santa Ana. Orange County has produced such notable Republicans as President Richard Nixon (born Yorba Linda & lived Fullerton & San Clemente); USA Congressman Seymour (formerly Mayor Anaheim); & USA Former Congressman Christopher Cox (of Newport Beach). President Reagan's White House lawyer John G Schmitz was also former president USA; he was presidential candidate 1972 for ultra-conservative Independent Party USA; member John Birch Society; & father Mary Kay Letourneau. In 1996 Curt Pringle (later mayor Anaheim) became first Republican president California State Assembly in decades.

Some institutions that are not based in Orange County operate satellite campuses such as University Southern California; National University; Pepperdine University; & Springfield College. The Orange County Department Education oversees 28 school districts. Orange County has media in Los Angeles including its radio & television stations. Two television stations KOCE-TV main PBS station in...