Friday, December 12, 2014

Who Knew #14 Orange County was Once Part of Los Angeles County

Who Knew that one hundred and twenty five years ago, on Aug. 1, 1889, the southern portion of Los Angeles County broke away to become Orange County. 

A map of the old Los Angeles County

According to KCET, 
A trip to the county seat in Los Angeles required two over hot and dusty roads in the summer time -- through mud and mire in the winter time. Bridges there were none, and often during the rainy season, the rivers swollen to raging torrents cut off all communication with the metropolis for weeks at a time. A lumbering old stage coach three times a week carried the mail, and at the compensation of ten cents a mile banged and battered the unfortunate passenger onward to his destination at the reckless speed of five miles an hour.

Discussions and attempts to break away from Los Angeles County took 10 years with original proposals such that the city of Downey and Whittier would become part of  "Anaheim County". After a few battles California legislature decided to incorporate a new county. Politicians then decided to name the county, for the citrus fruit in an attempt to promote immigration by suggesting a semi-tropical paradise–a place where anything could grow.

The plaza in the City of Orange in 1889, the year Orange County split from Los Angeles County. Courtesy of the Orange Public Library.

On the day Orange County separated, there were about 15,000 residents, three incorporated cities, and no paved roads. Their growth was slow but steady, reaching only 34,000 residents  by 1910. But in the following decade,  population nearly doubled. In the roaring '20s, it doubled again, to 120,000. 

Prior to WWII, Orange County was centered on agriculture.any crops would do well and bring prosperity, taking advantage of our ideal climate and soil, until a disease would wipe them out and force them to find something new, beginning the cycle again. Along the way, Orange County residents  had enormous success with grapes, apricots, walnuts, and oranges. 

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