Small town in Orange County, California. Many antique stores and quaint bungalows. Home of Chapman University. One of the characters in Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion attends Chapman, and James Blaylock's All The Bells On Earth is set in Orange. There's a roundabout in the middle of town called Orange Plaza.

Orange, California

Fast Facts

  • Population (2003 estimate): 134,523
  • Density: 2446 people per square mile
  • Population change (1998-2003): +1.32%
  • Land Area: 55 square miles
  • Jobs: 107,400
  • Unemployment: 3.9%
  • Mean Elevation:187 ft
  • Mission Statement: "The City of Orange is committed to excellent service for our residents, businesses and visitors."

A Short History of Orange, California

"The City of Orange was incorporated in 1888. However, Orange dates back to 1869 when Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell, both lawyers, accepted 1,385 acres of land from the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana as legal fees. Soon thereafter, the men laid out a one square mile town with ten-acre farm lots surrounding a forty acre central town site. The center of the town site became known as the Plaza, which has become the symbol of the community. Today, the Plaza and the original one square mile town site contain many homes and buildings dating to the early days of the City and the site is registered on the National Historic Register."

Orange began, like most of Southern California as a farming community. The first crops grown were not citrus fruits from which the town got its name, in fact the first crops were grains such as wheat, oats, and corn. Farmers then moved into grapes, but blight at the end of the 19th century ended that practice. It was not until this time that farmers began planting oranges. At this same time the Southern Pacific Railroad built a depot in the city and reduced fares to bring settlers into Southern California, allowing the orange industry to boom. “By 1929, Orange County was producing more than $12 million in oranges, with 820,000 boxes of the fruit coming from just one of the packing houses in Orange.”

The depression caused the price of the orange to plummet, and caused many economic problems in the town. At the end of World War II however many returning troops settled in Orange County, transforming the region into what it is today, primarily residential and commercial.

A Small Slice of Hollywood

The Olde Towne Orange is famous for its original architecture and has attracted many a movie maker to the town. The 1979 comedy Gumball Rally was filmed in the plaza, in fact one of the cars even crashed into a storefront (on purpose). The 1994 hit-movie, Crimson Tide with Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, and Viggo Mortensen had scenes filmed at Chapman University (3 blocks from the plaza). Tom Hanks filmed parts of That Thing You Do (1995) in the town. Additional movies filmed in town include Rocky and Bullwinkle (1999), Moving Lulu (1999), Big Mama’s House (2000), Surviving Christmas (2003), and American Wedding (2003).

Orange Today

Today, Orange is predominantly residential and commercial. Some small industrial regions still exist in the city (primarily along the train tracks), but in recent years, these businesses have been moving out of the town. The town has few attractions which attract tourists. It does have two good sized malls (The Block at Orange, and The Villages at Orange), a few multiplex theaters, and of course there is Olde Towne which is full of antique shops. The town also is home to St Joseph’s Hospital (city’s second largest employer) and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Neighboring towns include Villa Park, Anaheim, and Irvine.

California State Department of Finance
Center for Demographic Research, California State University at Fullerton
California Employment Development Department

CST Approved

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