The History of Orange County: From William III to the Present

Orange County is a place with a rich and varied history. From its earliest days as part of the Spanish Empire to its modern-day status as a bustling metropolitan area, Orange County has seen many changes over the centuries. But one thing has remained constant: its name. Orange County was named after William III of Orange, who became king of England, Scotland and Ireland in the late 17th century.

The first carbon-dated human settlement in North America, more than 12,500 years old, is located in Orange County. The area was explored by Spanish explorers in 1769 and ceded to ranchers by the start of the Mexican War in 1846. In 1889, the rest of the area voted overwhelmingly in favor of splitting off from Los Angeles County and forming Orange County. Santa Ana was selected as the county seat, and Orange County was officially formed on August 1, 1889. The postwar boom hit Orange County hard in the 1950s, and communities such as Garden Grove and Buena Park grew at a breakneck pace. The Pacific Electric Railway built three main lines to Orange County between 1905 and 1910: one along the coast from Seal Beach to Balboa, a second that crossed the center of the valley through Cypress and Garden Grove en route to Santa Ana, and a third to serve the northern communities of La Habra, Brea and Yorba Linda. Today, Orange County is home to more than three million people.

It is located just 40 miles from Manhattan and is one of the most attractive areas in the New York metropolitan area. Its agricultural products include corn, tobacco, dairy products, berries, horses, sheep and pigs. Non-university related cultural institutions in Orange County include the Carrboro ArtsCenter and the Jewish Heritage Foundation.