On a happy day, I might have said something like mayter's writeup (see below), though I didn't grow up in OC and couldn't wait to get out. More often, however, I found myself bitter and ranty about the place I lived from May 2001 until April 2002, which made me prone to calling Orange County, California a place "where rich old white people come to die, but not nearly soon enough."

With the exception of Laguna Beach and occasional hidden enclaves of coolness, the land behind the Orange curtain exemplifies pretty much everything that sucks about the Wasteland that is Southern California: rampant car culture and plenty of resultant smog, gated communities and other horrid suburban sprawl, and a near-total lack of soul. Orange County also has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's first covered shopping mall, South Coast Plaza. It's also a bastion of political conservativism (again with the exception of Laguna Beach and some fun spots in Newport Beach). It's fun to compare and contrast the OC Weekly and OC Register's spin on things and hope the truth is somewhere in between.

Orange County (OC) is the most prominent of the 4 counties bordering Los Angeles County. Originally a part of L.A. County, it separated in the 1800s because:

  • The only fire hose for the county was at the main station in downtown Los Angeles.
  • The fare for a trip from downtown to Anaheim cost $6.

The major newspaper of the county is the Orange County Register (OC Register) and the county seat is located in Santa Ana. Located in southern OC is the campus of the University of California Irvine.

Orange County is infamous for a early-1990s bankruptcy caused by the Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron who put county money on the stock market. With that aside, the county is a wonderful place compared to the dense urbanization that is Los Angeles County. Yes, much of Orange County has been subjected to the plauge that is urban sprawl. However, places like Newport Beach, Manhattan Beach and all these places give Orange County a superficial idea of the Southern California lifestyle.

Nothing wrong with that...


Prominent landmarks in Orange County include:

Having spent my formative years in OC (I emigrated to the Pacific Northwest in '94), I have a couple things to add.

Point the first: the air quality in OC and LA are both equally bad. The two counties sort of merge seamlessly in that special way only two identical sets of suburbia (suburbiae?) can. The weather is also the same; overcast in the AM, burning off by 10, eighty degrees by noon.

B: as for soullessness - ever been to Bellevue? One takes one's soul where one can find it. I remember quite a few awesome little places (coffeehouses, bookstores, etc) in downtown Fullerton, of all things. Although it is true that Newport/Laguna rocks.

-and-

3: dead right about the sprawl. You'll be hard-pressed to find a building taller than 3 stories anywhere in OC, even in corporate centers like Irvine.

So, all in all, a place like any other. A place to be born, a place to be raised, and a place to get the hell away from.

God, I'm tired

An offshoot of Los Angeles County that was named for its namesake crop - Oranges.

Once home to many produce packing houses and hundreds of acres of produce farms besides just Oranges (note that Garden Grove to this day holds the nickname The Big Strawberry), all that are left are a few patches of privately owned and poorly cared for trees - and very few privately owned farm plots where the crop is sold from roadside stands. (One in particular - about 1/2 mile from Disneyland - is owned by a Japanese family, and as I understand it, The Mouse has been trying their damndest to buy this plot for their own nefarious purposes; this is not to be confused with another strawberry field that they ultimately did purchase and turned into the western hemisphere's largest parking structure. Or at least, for now, it's the western hemisphere's largest.)

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