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Riverside History, California

Civilizations grow besides rivers, and Riverside, California, is no exception. Founded by John North and his group of Easterners, a colony was soon established on what was once a Spanish ranch.  The settlers were hoping to establish a school for their children and a place they could call their own from the vast swaths of prairies in early American history.

Discovery and Development

When the soil beside Santa Ana River proved that it could successfullynourish citrus plants, full-scale planting followed suit and families settled on the area.  As people moved in from Canada and England, they brought along their native traditions and culture.  The discovery of the soil’s fertility in the early 1870s led to development of the place into what it is today.

Riverside’s famous navel oranges where cultivated in 1873 and started the citrus industry.  It all began with two navel orange trees from Brazil given to Eliza Tibbets.  The trees thrived in the warm climate spawning a lucrative industry.  With people coming in to stake their claim and make a fortune on navel oranges, accommodations had to be set up; stores were established to cater to demands for supplies and food.  

With the boom in navel oranges came the refrigerated transport.  This contributed to the widespread distribution of the oranges, and there was less damage in-transit. As the town grew prosperous, the first golf courses and a polo field in California were built on Riverside.  By 1895, Riverside became the richest city per capita. 

Economic Boom and Links to the Past

As guests poured in, a small hotel was built, and today it stands as a reminder of the city’s early phenomenal economic success.  The Mission Inn is one of the must-see places in Riverside; it resembles the missions left behind by Franciscan friars.  The 1930 architecture reflects the revival style popular in those days.

Riverside became a favorite vacation spot for Easterners seeking warmer climates.  Many of them relocated to the place, increasing the number of local population and adding to the hoi polloi of cultural diversity. In Victoria Avenue, the homes are reminders of investors coming from Europe. 

Other interesting historical landmarks sites are the National Packing House, Citrus Experiment Station, Gage Canal, and Chinatown.  Chinatown was developed when Chinese migrant workers swarmed to Riverside to find jobs as fruit pickers and farmhands.  

What was once a riverside town is now a booming city teeming with hotels and top entertainment.  There are over 500 hotels in the city ranging from the pricey to the family economy hostels and bed and breakfast inns.  

Entertainment is thriving in Riverside, as there are fun festivals, ethnic shops, museums, antique shops, galleries, and a great nightlife.  A visit to Riverside is not replete without a visit to the old haunts like the Riverside National Cemetery and Mission Inn.

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  • ElzaJensen Alvarado Ranch
    travel tip by Elza posted more then 30 days ago
    We wanted to roam the city's surroundings a bit, so we decided to get to Mount Rubidoux and on the way to the sight, we spotted the Jensen Alvarado Ranch. We already about it in town, so we decided to look around. A short...
  • athenaloveRiverside Metropolitan Museum
    travel tip by athenalove posted more then 30 days ago
    This museum is a must if you're spending a little bit more time in Riverside, because its main focus is the historical, natural and cultural development of the settlement and its surroundings. Among the collections of the Riverside...
  • andra88Mission Inn Museum
    travel tip by andra88 posted more then 30 days ago
    A building that is more than just a historical landmark, the Mission Inn Museum was shaped and developed throughout the years, trying to represent the current decades' architectural aspect. The museum in itself is also a hotel, which...
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