From the Gabrielino Indians to Spanish ownership, the city of Irvine has a long and rich history. In the mid-1750s, the king of Spain ended the tranquil life of the Gabrielino Indians and parceled out land grants to the Spanish and Mexican citizens. These large grants later become the Irvine Ranch comprising of Rancho Lomas de Santiago, Rancho San Joaquin and Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. The Spanish and Mexicans has privy to the area until 1846. In the Mexican American War of 1846, the Mexican army was defeated in the final battle. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe, California was then annexed to the United States.
As a sheep-raising venture, James Irvine I purchased interest in three major Southern California ranchos as a partner of Flint, Bixby and Company. Although ranch operations centered on sheep raising in the beginning, operations shifted to field crops, olive and citrus orchards later on. In the 1950s, Myron Irvine began to sell sections of the ranches to urban development, and the University of California purchased 1,000, and the state purchased an additional 500 acres. The Irvine Company planners drew up master plans for greenbelts, commercial centers, industrial zones and recreational areas. A planned city began to emerge.
Today, Irvine is a city unlike any other. It is a city of master-planned urban living in a beautifully preserved natural setting of coastal southern California. Roughly 45 square miles with a population over 200,000, the city is a multicultural nexus of innovation, preserved wild lands, education, outdoor recreation and family-friendly communities.
Family friendly, Irvine has been rated by the FBI as America’s Safest Big City for seven years running. Nestled in the valley between the San Joaquin Hills and Loma Ridge, the city of Irvine is a convenient gateway to some of California’s most popular attractions, including Laguna Beach, Disneyland Park and Knott’s Berry Farm. With Interstate 405, Highway 55 and Interstate 5, access to all of Orange County’s beaches, attractions and airports is convenient.
Hikers, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the sun-kissed skies and Mediterranean year round temperatures in Irvine’s many parks. One of the most visited parks is Irvine Regional Park, which was once the private picnic grounds of James Irvine. This breathtaking park sports 160 acres of winding trails with native flora and fauna decorating its landscape.
Watersport enthusiasts and sun worshipers enjoy the jeweled beaches of Orange County. Stretches of gorgeous shoreline and charming seaside towns are less than a half-hour drive from Irvine. Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach are popular destinations for the locals and are ideal for water skiing, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing or just basking in the golden sun.
Reflecting the innovative image of Irvine is the Orange Country Great Park. Its iconic 72-foot orange sphere rises up like a second sun by day and transforms to a harvest moon by night. Evolving from ranchos to marine bases to a haven for the community, it is the favorite place for locals to rest, be entertained, shop and just plain have fun. Free rides on the giant helium balloon offer patrons a panoramic view of the county from 400 feet high.
The park also features a farmer’s market with naturally grown products, herbs, ornamental plants and handmade crafts. Kids can learn all about how to grow natural foods at the Farm Lab. With local food trucks offering gourmet crepes and authentic tapas, a visit to the park is a culinary delight. Kids can also enjoy cave-like adventures at the Kid’s Rock Tot Lot and learn about fossils. Free concerts, movies on the lawn and comedy shows are featured throughout the fall months.
With its year round sub-tropical weather, white sandy beaches, engaging cultural activities and family-friendly communities, the city of Irvine is a great place to call home.