1946 to 1962
Santa Ana Junior College opens, temporarily using barracks moved from the
closed Santa Ana Army Air Base. School segregation ends in OC.
James Irvine Jr. dies in Montana. His son Myford assumes control of the
Irvine Company. The yacht owned by Walter and Beulah Overell of Los Angeles
blows up in Newport Harbor, killing the couple. Their daughter Beulah Louise
Overell and her boyfriend Bud Gollum are charged with homicide, but are
acquitted after the five-month trial. The trial is the longest in OC history. As
a result of the case, new regulations are enacted regarding the sale and
purchase of explosives. James Irvine II dies in Montana.
Orange Coast College opens on the site of the former Santa Ana Army Air Base
with 500 students. The Green River fire starts in Santa Ana Canyon and burns
46,000 acres. The first Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race opens. The race goes on
to become the world’s largest yacht race. The O'Neill family donates 278 acres
of land to OC for use as a park. Geologist E.S. Larsen identifies the Bedford
Canyon Formation on the eastern slope of the Santa Ana Mountains. It is the
oldest known rock formation in OC, dating back 180 million years.
First snow since 1881 falls in OC. The U.S. Navy ends blimp operations at the
Tustin "Lighter-Than-Air" base and decommissions the base. Joseph Edward
Prentice donates 16 acres of land for Prentice Park to the City of Santa Ana. He
stipulates that at least 50 monkeys, his favorite animal, be kept in the park at
all times. The animals become the first residents of the Santa Ana Zoo at
Prentice Park. The Santa Ana City Council passes a resolution defining the
official Civic Center as the area between Sycamore and Ross streets and from
Sixth to Church Street (later renamed Eighth Street and finally Civic Center
Drive). The First Corn Festival is held in La Habra.
The U.S. Census puts the population of OC at 216,224. OC adopts its first air
pollution regulations. Oil income in OC matches the income from agriculture.
Pacific Electric Railway Red Car service to Newport, Huntington Beach and Santa
Ana ends. Construction begins on the "Santa Ana Parkway" (future Interstate 5),
providing a highway link between Los Angeles and Santa Ana. The highway roughly
follows the old El Camino Real and was seen as an extension of the
Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101) from Los Angeles. Raymond Hoiles founds freedom
Communications Inc., as a holding company for his newspaper properties,
including the Santa Ana Register. Southern California Bible College
(future Vanguard University) moves from Pasadena to Costa Mesa to become the
first four-year college in OC. Heavy amounts of oil smoke from orchard smudging
prompts efforts to curtail the practice.
The U.S. Navy reactivates the Tustin air base to support operations in the
Korean War. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens moves to Claremont in Los Angeles
The Los Alamitos Race Track opens. The first scheduled airline service at OC
Airport is launched by Bonanza Airlines. The Southern California Fruit Exchange
is renamed Sunkist.
Walt Disney purchases 160 acres in Anaheim from the Paul Dominguez family,
descendents of Juan Pacifcio Ontiveros, original 1837 grantee of Rancho San Juan
Cajon de Santa Ana. Buena Park, with a population of 5,483, and Costa Mesa, with
a population of 16,840, incorporate as cities. The Third International Boy Scout
Jamboree is held at Irvine Ranch. It is the first Jamboree held west of the
Mississippi River with 50,000 scouts from all 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii and 16
foreign countries. The California Alligator Farm moves from Los Angeles to Buena
The Santa Ana Freeway (future Interstate 5) opens between Los Angeles and
Santa Ana. It was then designed a part of U.S. 101. Newport Beach outlaws oil
drilling within its city limits. Hesperian College, renamed Chapman College in
honor of its entrepreneurial benefactor, C.C. Chapman, moves its campus to
downtown Orange. Ground is broken for the construction of Disneyland. 160 acres
of citrus trees and 15 houses were cleared for the new theme park. The OC
Philharmonic Society is incorporated.
OC adopts its first water pollution ordinance. Opening day for Disneyland in
Anaheim draws 28,000 visitors (many holding counterfeit tickets). The Santa Ana
Freeway is backed up with a line of cars approaching the new theme park. At the
same time, OC begins baking under a 15-day heat wave with temperatures reaching
110 degrees Fahrenheit that, along with a plumber’s strike resulting in few
operating water fountains, brings a very hot experience to Disneyland visitors.
Eight weeks after opening, however, the park counts its one-millionth visitor.
The City of Dairyland is incorporated, later changing its name to La Palma. UCI
opens a 200-acres agricultural research station in El Toro (future Lake Forest).
The Santa Ana Register newspaper is renamed The Register. The
115-acre Buffalo Ranch opens in Newport Beach. Aviation pioneer Glenn Martin
dies. County takes over administration and operation of Newport Harbor.
Garden Grove, with a population of 42,000, Stanton (for the second time),
with a population of 1,500, and Dairy City, with a population of 1,500, (later
Cypress) incorporate as cities. Dairy City is a major dairy center for OC and
decides to name itself after this industry. The city decides to later change its
name to Cypress. The U.S. Army temporary bases the Nike-Hercules antiaircraft
missile system at Santa Ana Army Air Base until permanent missile bases were
completed in the Los Angeles area. Fiberboard boxes replace the old wooden
orange crates and citrus labels are discontinued., the first of the OC
electronic-aerospace industry. The OC Office of the Public Defender becomes a
The communities of Westminster and Barber City combine to incorporate as the
City of Westminster (population 10,755). Fountain Valley, with a population of
597, incorporates as a city to keep developers out and avoid annexation by Santa
Ana, naming itself for its natural underground water wells. The Santa Ana
Freeway (future Interstate 5) opens between Santa Ana and Tustin. It continued
to be designated U.S. 101. An influx of new residents to Newport Beach causes
prices of oceanfront lots to rise to $15,000.
The Santa Ana Army Air Base is declared surplus by the military. A Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) control tower begins operations at Fullerton
Municipal Airport. The first tall ship ever built in OC is the square-rigged
Columbia, built for Disneyland. It is a replica of the original Columbia
that sailed from Boston in 1787 to trade with the California coast. It was the
first American vessel to circumnavigate the world.
The Stewart fire starts on Ortega Highway and burns 66,300 acres. Dunes Resort
opens with plans to rival Disneyland. The Santa Ana Freeway is completed through
OC. O'Neill Park is dedicated. Howard Hughes' semiconductor plant and
Aeronutronics open in Newport Beach, launching the electronics-aerospace
industry in OC.
Myford Irvine, the third generation leading the Irvine Company, dies. His
death is ruled to be a suicide. Disneyland introduces the first daily operating
monorail in the Western Hemisphere. OC State College (future California State
University Fullerton) opens in Fullerton with 450 students. The new "San Diego
Freeway"(Interstate-405 and 5) is built through San Juan Capistrano. Fairview
State Hospital opens in Costa Mesa. The Santiago Girl Scout Council unites the
multitude of Girl Scout councils and troops in OC.
The U.S. Census puts the population of OC at 703,925. The Democratic Party is
the dominant political party in OC. Los Alamitos, with a population of 1,750,
incorporates as a city. The new San Diego Freeway(Interstate-405 and 5) reaches
the OC/San Diego County line. The Riverside Freeway (91) is completed through OC.
Construction begins on UCI. Wycliffe Bible Translators is established in Santa
Ana. Two U.S. Navy destroyers (Ammen and Collett) collide in heavy
fog off Newport Beach. Eleven of the Ammen's crewmembers are killed and the ship
is damaged beyond repair. The first Newport Beach high-rise is built. The
Moulton Ranch is sold to a syndicate to develop Laguna Hills and Leisure World.
The Irvine Company donates 1,000 acres of land a new University of California
campus (future UCI). The Newberry (Mojave Desert) to Placentia gas pipeline is
completed, bringing a vastly increased supply of natural gas into OC from West
Texas and New Mexico.
Robert Schuller and his Garden Grove Community Church move into their
walk-in/drive-in church on Chapman Avenue. San Juan Capistrano, with a
population of 1,287, incorporates as a city in order to avoid annexation by San
Clemente. The first residents move into Ross Cortese’s Leisure World in Seal
Villa Park, with a population of 830, incorporates as a city in order to
avoid annexation by Orange. OC State College in Fullerton is renamed Orange
State College. The Costa Mesa/Newport Freeway (55) is completed. The Movieland
Wax Museum opens in Buena Park.