Orange County (Template:IPA-en) is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County. It is the sixth most populous county in the United States as of 2009 while at the same time is also the smallest area-wise county in Southern California, being roughly half the size of the next smallest county, Ventura. The county is famous for its tourism, as the home of such attractions as Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, as well as several beaches along its more than Template:Convert of coastline. It is also known for its affluence and political conservatism. In fact, a 2005 academic study listed three Orange County cities as being among America's 25 "most conservative," making it the only county in the country containing more than one such city.
Orange County also became well known for being the largest US county ever to have gone bankrupt, when in 1994, longtime treasurer Robert Citron's investment strategies left the county with inadequate capital to allow for any raise in interest rates for its trading positions. When the conservative residents of Orange County voted down a proposal to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, bankruptcy followed shortly thereafter. Citron later pleaded guilty to six felonies regarding the matter.
Whereas most population centers in the United States tend to be identified by a major city, there is no defined urban center in Orange County. It is mostly suburban, except for some traditionally urban areas at the centers of the older cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton. There are also several edge city-style developments such as South Coast Metro and Newport Center.
While Santa Ana serves as the governmental center of the county, Anaheim is its main tourist destination, and Irvine its major business and financial hub. Three Orange County cities have populations exceeding 200,000: Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Irvine.
Thirty-four incorporated cities are located in Orange County; the newest is Aliso Viejo, which was incorporated in 2001. Anaheim was the first city incorporated in Orange County, in 1870 when the region was still part of neighboring Los Angeles County.
Members of the Tongva, Juaneño, and Luiseño Native American groups long inhabited the area. After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the area Valle de Santa Ana (Valley of Saint Anne). On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area's first permanent European settlement. Among those who came with Portolá were José Manuel Nieto and José Antonio Yorba. Both these men were given land grants - Rancho Los Nietos and Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, respectively. The Nieto heirs were granted land in 1834. The Nieto ranches were known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Yorba heirs Bernardo Yorba and Teodosio Yorba were also granted Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Canyon Ranch) and Rancho Lomas de Santiago, respectively. Other ranchos in Orange County were granted by the Mexican government during the Mexican period in Alta California.
A severe drought in the 1860s devastated the prevailing industry, cattle ranching, and much land came into the possession of Richard O'Neill, Sr., James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains, attracting settlers via the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads.
This growth led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889. The county is generally said to have been named for the citrus fruit (its most famous product). However, in the new county there was already a town by the name of Orange, named for Orange County, Virginia, which itself took its name from William of Orange. The fact the county took the same name as one of its towns may have been coincidence.
Other citrus crops, avocados, and oil extraction were also important to the early economy. Orange County benefited from the July 4, 1904 completion 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 for celebrities of early Hollywood. It was deemed so significant that the city of Pacific City changed its name to Huntington Beach in honor of Henry Huntington, president of the Pacific Electric and nephew of Collis Huntington. Transportation further improved with the completion of the State Route and U.S. Route 101 (now mostly Interstate 5) in the 1920s.
Agriculture, such as the boysenberry which was made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II but the county's prosperity soared. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community for many who moved to Southern California to work in aerospace and manufacturing. Orange County received a further boost in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland.
In the 1980s, the population topped two million for the first time; Orange County had become the second-most populous county in California.
An investment fund melt-down in 1994 led to the criminal prosecution of County of Orange treasurer Robert Citron. The county lost at least $1.5 billion through high-risk investments in derivatives. On December 6, 1994, the County of Orange declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, from which it emerged in June 1995. The Orange County bankruptcy was the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
In recent years land-use conflicts have arisen between established areas in the north and less developed areas in the south. These conflicts have regarded things such as construction of new toll roads and the re-purposing of a decommissioned air base. For example, the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station site was designated by a voter measure in 1994 to be developed into an international airport to alleviate the heavily used John Wayne Airport. But subsequent voter initiatives and court actions have caused the airport plan to be permanently shelved. Instead it will become the Orange County Great Park.
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of Template:Convert, of which Template:Convert (or 83.27%) is land and Template:Convert (or 16.73%) is water. It the smallest county in Southern California. The average annual temperature is about Template:Convert. Despite its small size as a county, Orange County's total area in square miles is actually just smaller than the State of Rhode Island's land area.
Orange County is bordered on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by Los Angeles County, on the northeast by San Bernardino County and Riverside County, and on the southeast by San Diego County.
The northwestern part of the county lies on the coastal plain of the Los Angeles Basin, while the southeastern end rises into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Most of Orange County's population reside in one of two shallow coastal valleys that lie in the basin, the Santa Ana Valley and the Saddleback Valley. The Santa Ana Mountains lie within the eastern boundaries of the county and of the Cleveland National Forest. The high point is Santiago Peak (Template:Convert), about Template:Convert east of Santa Ana. Santiago Peak and nearby Modjeska Peak, just Template:Convert shorter, form a ridge known as Saddleback, visible from almost everywhere in the county. The Peralta Hills extend westward from the Santa Ana Mountains through the communities of Anaheim Hills, Orange, and ending in Olive. The Loma Ridge is another prominent feature, running parallel to the Santa Ana Mountains through the central part of the county, separated from the taller mountains to the east by Santiago Canyon.
The Santa Ana River is the county's principal watercourse, flowing through the middle of the county from northeast to southwest. Its major tributary to the south and east is Santiago Creek. Other watercourses within the county include Aliso Creek, San Juan Creek, and Horsethief Creek. In the North, the San Gabriel River also briefly crosses into Orange County and exits into the Pacific on the Los Angeles-Orange County line between the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach. Laguna Beach is home to the county's only natural lakes, Laguna Lakes, which are formed by water rising up against an underground fault.
Residents sometimes figuratively divide the county into "North Orange County" and "South County" (meaning Northwest and Southeast—following the county's natural diagonal orientation along the local coastline). This is more of a cultural and demographic distinction perpetuated by the popular television shows "The OC" and "Laguna Beach", between the older areas closer to Los Angeles, and the more affluent and recently developed areas to the South and East. A transition between older and newer development may be considered to exist roughly parallel to State Route 55 (aka the Costa Mesa Freeway). This transition is accentuated by large flanking tracts of sparsely developed area occupied until recent years by agriculture and military airfields.
While there is a natural topographical Northeast-to-Southwest transition from inland elevations to the lower coastal band, there is no formal geographical division between North and South County. Perpendicular to that gradient, the Santa Ana River roughly divides the county between northwestern and southeastern sectors (about 40% to 60% respectively, by area), but does not represent any apparent economic, political or cultural differences, nor does it significantly affect distribution of travel, housing, commerce, industry or agriculture from one side to the other.
As of August 2006, Orange County has 34 incorporated cities. The oldest is Anaheim (1870) and the newest is Aliso Viejo (2001).
- Aliso Viejo, incorporated in 2001
- Anaheim, incorporated in 1870
- Brea, incorporated in 1917
- Buena Park, incorporated in 1953
- Costa Mesa, incorporated in 1953
- Cypress, incorporated in 1956
- Dana Point, incorporated in 1989
- Fountain Valley, incorporated in 1953
- Fullerton, incorporated in 1904
- Garden Grove, incorporated in 1956
- Huntington Beach, incorporated in 1909
- Irvine, incorporated in 1971
- La Habra, incorporated in 1925
- La Palma, incorporated in 1955
- Laguna Beach, incorporated in 1927
- Laguna Hills, incorporated in 1991
- Laguna Niguel, incorporated in 1989
- Laguna Woods, incorporated in 1999
- Lake Forest, incorporated in 1991
- Los Alamitos, incorporated in 1960
- Mission Viejo, incorporated in 1988
- Newport Beach, incorporated in 1906
- Orange, incorporated in 1888
- Placentia, incorporated in 1926
- Rancho Santa Margarita, incorporated in 2000
- San Clemente, incorporated in 1928
- San Juan Capistrano, incorporated in 1961
- Santa Ana, incorporated in 1886
- Seal Beach, incorporated in 1915
- Stanton, incorporated in 1956
- Tustin, incorporated in 1927
- Villa Park, incorporated in 1962
- Westminster, incorporated in 1957
- Yorba Linda, incorporated in 1967
- North Tustin
- Orange Park Acres
- Rancho Mission Viejo
- Red Hill
- Silverado Canyon
- Sunset Beach
- Trabuco Canyon
Orange County has a history of large planned communities. Nearly 30% of the county was created as master planned communitiesTemplate:Citation needed, the most notable being the City of Irvine, Coto de Caza, Anaheim Hills, Tustin Ranch, Tustin Legacy, Ladera Ranch, Talega, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo. Irvine is often referred to as a model master-planned city, for its villages of Woodbridge, Northwood, University Park, and Turtle Rock that were laid out by the Irvine Company of the mid-1960s before it was bought by a group of investors that included Donald Bren.
- Los Angeles County, California - north, west
- San Bernardino County, California - northeast
- Riverside County, California - east
- San Diego County, California - southeast
National protected areasEdit
Transit in Orange County is offered primarily by the Orange County Transportation Authority. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) cited OCTA as the best large property transportation system in the United States for 2005. OCTA manages the county's bus network and funds the construction and maintenance of local streets, highways, and freeways; regulates taxicab services; maintains express toll lanes through the median of California State Route 91; and works with Southern California's Metrolink to provide commuter rail service along three lines - the Orange County Line, the 91 Line, and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line.
Surface transportation in Orange County relies heavily on three major interstate highways: the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), the San Diego Freeway (I-405 and I-5 south of Irvine), and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), which only briefly enters Orange County territory in the northwest. The other freeways in the county are state highways, and include the perpetually congested Riverside and Artesia Freeway (SR 91) and the Garden Grove Freeway (SR 22) running east-west, and the Orange Freeway (SR 57), the Costa Mesa Freeway (SR/SR 55), the Laguna Freeway (SR 133), the San Joaquin Transportation Corridor (SR 73), the Eastern Transportation Corridor (SR 261, SR 133, SR 241), and the Foothill Transportation Corridor (SR 241) running north-south. Minor stub freeways include the Richard M. Nixon Freeway (SR 90), also known as Imperial Highway, and the southern terminus of Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1). There are no U.S. Highways in Orange County, though two existed in the county until the mid-1960s: 91 and 101. 91 went through what is now the state route of the same number, and 101 was replaced by Interstate 5. SR-1 was once a bypass of US-101 (Route 101A).
The bus network comprises 6,542 stops on 77 lines, running along most major streets, and accounts for 210,000 boardings a day. The fleet of 817 buses is gradually being replaced by LNG (liquified natural gas)-powered vehicles, which already represent over 40% of the total fleet.
Starting in 1992, Metrolink has operated three commuter rail lines through Orange County, and has also maintained Rail-to-Rail service with parallel Amtrak service. On a typical weekday, over 40 trains run along the Orange County Line, the 91 Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line. Along with Metrolink riders on parallel Amtrak lines, these lines generate approximately 15,000 boardings per weekday. Metrolink also began offering weekend service on the Orange County Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County line in the summer of 2006. As ridership has steadily increased in the region, new stations have opened at Anaheim Canyon, Buena Park, Tustin, and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo. Plans for a future station in Placentia are underway and is expected to be completed by 2014.
Since 1938, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad and later Amtrak, has operated the Pacific Surfliner regional passenger train route (previously named the San Diegan until 2000) through Orange County. The route includes stops at eight stations in Orange County including San Clemente (selected trips), San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo (selected trips), Irvine, Santa Ana, Orange (selected trips), Anaheim, Fullerton.
Orange County's first public Monorail line is undergoing Environmental impact assessment. This line will connect the Disneyland Resort, Convention Center, and Angel Stadium to the proposed ARTIC transportation hub, in the city of Anaheim. A streetcar line connecting Downtown Santa Ana to the Depot at Santa Ana is also in the environmental phase.
Orange County's only major airport is John Wayne Airport. Although its abbreviation (SNA) refers to Santa Ana, the airport is in fact located in unincorporated territory surrounded by the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Irvine. Unincorporated Orange County (including the John Wayne Airport) has mailing addresses, which go through the Santa Ana Post Office. For this reason, SNA was chosen as the IATA Code for the airport.Template:Citation needed The actual Destination Moniker which appears on most Arrival/Departure Monitors in airports throughout the United States is "Orange County," which is the common nickname used for the OMB Metropolitan Designation: Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California. Its modern Thomas F. Riley Terminal handles over 9 million passengers annually through 14 different airlines.
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