California Counties

Orange County, California

If you think oranges, Orange County would probably bring surprises--today there aren't many orange groves remaining in a place named for them. Orange County or "OC" or "THE OC" are some of the ways you can say the name of the county that: Is portrayed as wealthy and filled with rich, spoiled people in films and TV; made history when it became bankrupt in 1994; is visited by millions of vacationers each year; is home to Disneyland; features the nation's coveted sunbathing beaches such as Laguna Beach, shown in the picture. Orange County has 34 incorporated cities and is known for its tourism, theme parks, high-tech industries, fashion, and outdoor sports.

One of California's densest county's population-wise, is an entertainment capital in California. It is home to Disneyland Resorts, Knott's Berry Farm, Medieval Times, Pirates Dinner Adventure, Hornblower Cruises & Events, Catalina Flyer, 40 miles of beaches, a professional baseball team (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Mighty Ducks hockey team, two major universities, University of California, Irvine, and California State University Fullerton, and more!

Santa Ana, the county seat, has a majority Hispanic population and is the fastest growing ethnicity in the second most populous county in California and 6th in the nation.

Anaheim, home to Disneyland, is OC's largest tourist destination, and Irvine its major business and financial hub. There are 34 incorporated cities in Orange County that range from a city comprised 100% by people over 55 years of age. Then there's a city

In 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area's first permanent European settlement. Today, the mission has but a few remnants of the original structure. It has been rebuilt to appear as the original mission looked, though the grounds have diminished.

In 1904 Orange County celebrated the arrival of the Pacific Electric Railway, a trolley connecting Los Angeles with Santa Ana and Newport Beach. The link made Orange County an accessible weekend retreat, and land developers quickly began to parcel land, promoting their seaside residential tracts. One of the most famous is Balboa Island, which exists due to dredging. Lots on the island were cheap when first offered for purchase in the early 1900's. Today the parcels and homes cost no less than $1 million, but usually much more.

Much of Orange County's growth has been a result of freeway and road construction. State Route and U.S. Route 101 (a portion which is Interstate 5 today) and the completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 allowed people to work in Los Angeles County, and return home to OC. I-405 west of I-605 at Seal Beach opened before 1965 and the southern junction with I-5 in Irvine Spectrum opened in 1969. SR22 Garden Grove Freeway opened in 1967 starting at the I405 at Seal Beach, intersecting with I-5 and State Route 57 until terminating at the Costa Mesa Freeway SR55. Toll roads have been built in recent decades to ease the crowding on the "free-ways".

OCTA manages the county's bus network of approx. 77 lines running along most major streets, while Metrolink operates three commuter rail lines through Orange County with parallel Amtrak service. Lines include Orange County, 91, and Inland Empire-Orange County, and total around 40 trains per day.

A car and passenger ferry service, the Balboa Island Ferry, comprising three ferries running every five minutes, operates between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island in Newport Beach.

Orange County Airport and nearby Long Beach Airport and Los Angeles International Airport serve the county citizens. Ontario Airport also is considered within reach of Orange County's transportation needs.

In1994 Orange County lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments, and filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged in June 1995. The Orange County bankruptcy was the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Orange County is bordered by Los Angeles County to its north, San Diego County to the south, Pacific Ocean to the west, and San Bernardino County and Riverside County on the northeast.

Located within two shallow coastal valleys, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley, Santa Ana Mountains form the eastern boundaries of the county along with the Cleveland National Forest. Saddleback mountains in the county can be seen from most cities and are formed by Santiago Peak at an elevation of 5,689' and Modjeska Peak. Peralta Hills extend westward from the Santa Ana Mountains through the communities of Anaheim Hills and Orange Hills. Loma Ridge parallel to the Santa Ana Mountains, is separated from the taller mountains to the east by Santiago Canyon.

Tourism remains a vital aspect of Orange County's economy. Anaheim is the main tourist hub, with the Disneyland Resort's Magic Kingdom Park being the second most visited theme park in the country. The Anaheim Convention Center receives many major conventions throughout the year.

Orange County residents have included Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, John Wayne, Tiger Woods, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Mark McGwire, Kevin Costner, John Stamos, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Gwen Stefani, and countless other celebs and sports figures. Yorba Linda-born Orange County native Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States in 1969. He also lived in seaside San Clemente. His presidential library is in Yorba Linda.


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