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Santa Ana History, California

Santa Ana, CA US – History: Financial & governmental center of Orange County

The valley, where city of Santa Ana is situated, was discovered in 1769. The expedition was led by Don Gaspar Portola. Explorers christened Santa Ana valley for honoring Saint Anne and named the river which flows across the valley (Santa Ana). Father Junipero Serra, a member of Portola party, later came up with several Franciscan missions.

Role of Yorba in making Santa Ana fertile

Antonio Yorba, a soldier from the Portola group, and Juan Peralta, his nephew, had a Spanish grant to extend the land of Santa Ana Canyon to the ocean. They used this land to raise cattle. Its irrigation system was fed by Santa Ana River. Thus, its land was considerably fertile and the region transformed soon into an agricultural center. Several ranches were also established in the valley during this period.

1849 California Gold Rush

The Californian Gold Rush of 1849 brought a population boom in Santa Ana, which was followed by another one during the Civil War. The large ranches of the valley were subdivided and were sold to newcomers, who later on founded the cities of Orange, Tustin and Santa Ana.

How Santa did Ana get its name?

The history of Santa Ana actually began in 1869, when William Spurgeon bought 70 acres of land from Yorba heir and came up with the plan of a town.

Developments in Santa Ana

Soon, Santa Ana started thriving. Several residences and stores were opened within its boundary. Farms were established throughout the valley. Favorable climate and rich soil permitted cultivation of numerous crops. The city became a commercial center, as its central location made it a natural marketplace for producing crops. Following the arrival of rail transport in 1877, Santa Ana developed and its population increased. This led to the town getting incorporated in 1886.

Santa Ana as Orange County’s governmental and financial center

The Second World War brought more development in Santa Ana, as industry started moving into this area. Santa Ana population increased from about 50,000 (1900) to over 200,000 (1950) within 50 years. The city charter, which provided a council-manager government form, was adopted in 1952. Since the Second World War, the city became Orange County’s governmental and financial center.

Efforts began during the 80s for restoring and revitalizing Santa Ana. Today, its residents are known for enjoying ethic and cultural diversity. In the meantime, the city continues to be Orange County’s governmental and financial center.

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Read our members' travel tips about Santa Ana

  • BelindaSantora Arts Building
    travel tip by Belinda posted more then 30 days ago
    Santa Ana Artists Village is the heart of the town's cultural venues and events. Full of art galleries that feature contemporary, local and classic artists, the Santora Arts Building stands out from them all. It is not only the...
  • TorontoguyHelena Modjeska Historic House
    travel tip by Torontoguy posted more then 30 days ago
    In the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains, at the Santiago Creek river, the famous Helena Modjeska Historic House is located. The house and its surrounding gardens is known for the admired actress of the past century. Surrounded with...
  • BelindaBowers Museum of Cultural Art
    travel tip by Belinda posted more then 30 days ago
    Dedicated to arts and crafts of indigenous people throughout the world, the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art is a beautiful and educational venue for all ages. Chinese and Native American, African and Pacific artifacts can be found here,...
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